DEFCON 1 Reviews: ‘Power Rangers’

The Downs, the Further Down Downs and…Oh Yeah, There was Some Good Stuff Too

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(Spoiler Free)

 

Well, at least it’s a start. Saban’s “Power Rangers” is the first of the franchise’s box office films since 1995’s “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”, and the improvement was definitely there. The cast of characters was new and recognizable to the audience that “Power Rangers” was aiming for, and the release was certainly exciting for long time fans, especially the ones I know.

Still, the story line wasn’t the greatest and some of the acting was bad, even by teenage actor standards (which tends to happen when you cast Becky G as a main character).

The Good Stuff

Essentially, “Power Rangers” is about a group of teenage friends who discover ancient glowy coins that used to belong to a prehistoric team of warriors called the Power Rangers. The teenagers meet the Power Ranger’s original leader, Zordon, who tells them that they must become the new Power Rangers and protect the Earth from the nemesis he could not defeat.

The Realest Robot Out There

To be honest, Zordon was one of the best parts of this movie. Zordon, played by Bryan Cranston, used to be the red Power Ranger, but in the movie, his essence is trapped in the computer of an ancient spaceship. Despite the fact that he looks like someone slammed his face into a bin of Legos, Zordon’s interactions with the new Red Ranger, played by Dacre Montgomery, are powerfully human.

Zordon is struggling to get the new team to morph, a process during which they get those cool outfits and vehicles seen in the commercials and the trailer (if you haven’t seen them just google Power Rangers), but his real motives behind trying to get the team to morph are revealed later. This lesson gives Zordon a far more human essence then he has ever had in other Power Rangers films.

Pantaloons Begone

The second best part about this movie is the costume assortment. Yo, the Rangers’ costumes were awesome (even  though you don’t get to see them until very late in the film). Kelli Jones, the movie’s costume designer, should get a medal for her work. The audience for “Power Rangers” was kids and tweens, so it was important for her to create cool, modern Sci-fi suits that would sell a lot of toys. This was a task she delivered on beautifully, not only making elegant and almost scary Ranger jumpsuits, but also revamped new villains who long time fans know and love and newcomers can easily get accustomed to.

The Black Blue Ranger

As the positive part of the review comes to a close, I’d like to praise RJ Cyler, who played Billy Cranston, the blue Ranger. His performance was by far the most likable and entertaining, as his quirkiness and humor brought some light into the surprisingly dark plot of the film. He learns to morph first, and for good reason too.

Unfortunately, “Power Rangers” fell short it quite a few ways.

Becky Geez

First, as I said before, some of the acting and dialogue was pretty cringe worthy. Casting singer/songwriter Becky G as the Yellow Ranger, Trini, was a poor choice. The important part of her role was supposed to be to introduce a dynamic and likable gay character to the franchise for the first time. For this effort I do give the writers kudos and I’m grateful that they understand what’s happening in the social world of modern day teenagers. The problem with the Yellow Ranger was that her backstory was decent, but Becky G’s acting turned what should have been a punch into a poke.

All Talk

Dialogue was also disappointing on many fronts. The film ended up confusing itself as it tried to market to elementary school kids while addressing relevant teenage issues. This made dialogue just…bleh. For example, they’d show social issues that are important to adolescents right now such as sending inappropriate photos and bullying, but the characters would have to awkwardly explain what just happened in vast detail so that six year old Jimmy in the audience can understand.

That confusion leads into the next issue with “Power Rangers”. This film tried to address social issues like race and teenage sex more than any other previous Power Rangers installment, but they tried way too hard. Billy Cranston’s race humor about “the black ranger” was actually hilarious, but the film did poorly in smoothly integrating sexting, bullying, race, religion and LGBT issues .

The entire thing seemed too preachy and not nearly real enough to be convincing or believable. “Power Rangers” didn’t show a diverse cast of great teammates who work together despite their differences; it shows adults trying to tell kids about a diverse cast of great teammates who work together kinda well despite their differences.

Why So Serious?

The last flaw is something I never thought I’d say. Ever. The movie should’ve been cheesier. Yo, where did the pointless backflips, flip phones and ridiculous Zord chants go? I’m no Power Rangers fanatic, but I’ve seen enough to recognize good Deja Vu opportunities, and “Power Rangers” missed a LOT of them. The only highlight of the old school series’ light hearted, quirky humor was the robot Alpha 5 (Bill Hader), who I was elated to see be a character who could keep the atmosphere sarcastically bright. All in all, the film was waaay too serious to be a Power Rangers movie, by anyone’s standards. Oh yeah, and since when does Red Ranger cuss like a sailor?

The Verdict

Here’s the dealio: “Power Rangers” was entertaining and fun (and I’m sure it sold a whole lot of toys), but it wasn’t good. Despite good acting here and there and a dedication to addressing relevant social issues, the film seemed like it was trying too hard and appealing to too many audiences. The confusion between appealing to mature young adults and little kids who are going to dress up like the Rangers for Halloween took a lot away from “Power Rangers”, and its honestly kind of sad.

The great thing, though, was that there’s a lot of potential. Despite Becky G’s acting and the fact that the villain wasn’t even worth mentioning (did you notice that?), I actually like the new cast of the Power Rangers franchise, and I see better follow-ups on the horizon (well, I would if my little brother would move his freaking Red Ranger action figure).

 Blooper Reel