Director: Dean Israelite
Writers: John Gatins (screenplay), Matt Sazama (story by)
Stars: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler
So I finally got around to watching the bnew Power Rangers movie and as a fan and regular viewer of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers show in the mid 90s, it would be fair to say that I was curious at how it would pan out. My memories from the tv show are bit vague, I was only 5 or 6 at the time, with the only clear things being the cheesy, but memorable theme and it bearing more than a little resemblance to the campiness of the 60s Batman show. The latter got its successful reboot into a more serious film franchise (before Joel Ely nearly destroyed it) in 1989 and it’s the Power Rangers turn in 2017, but how does it fair? Well, not too badly actually.
It starts off like most good origins stories do. I.e. Giving us a flashback and then introducing our new group of heroes. It does a very effective job of doing this too, spending the best part of forty minutes solely developing the troubled group of teenagers that are to be the Power Rangers. These consist of Angel Grove residents; Jason (Dacre Montgomery); Kimberley (Naomi Scott); Billy (RJ Cyler); Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G.) It does this rather ingeniously too by bringing the majority of them together via detention in their high school. I imagine it can be a tricky business introducing so many characters without ruining the pacing or sacrificing in the story department and I felt they just about nailed the balance. Having said that, it wasn’t a terribly complicated story, so that maybe wasn’t an issue here.
With that being said, the convenience of all five, including Trini and Zack (I don’t believe they were in the detention with the others?), converging on the hillside at the same time just before Billy had his little accident with the explosives, was pushing it. Again, minor niggle and you could always say it was destiny, they were supposed to be the Rangers, the ship was drawing them together and all that jazz. Still.
During this extended introduction we also get to meet Alpha-5 (Bill Hader) and Zordon (Bryan Cranston); the former looking much better in this than he ever did during the live action series; and the latter appearing as a giant, talking, head in what can only be described as the best looking pin art in the world. Alpha-5 managed to capture former red ranger and leader Zordon’s soul (might have been called something else in the film), trapping him onboard the ship for what I’d imagine was a good chunk of time. He certainly awakes with a fair bit of attitude and healthy dose of scepticism towards the upstarts set to take his old groups place. Meanwhile, Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks); the villain of the film and the fallen, former yellow ranger, also resurrects on a fishing ship around this point to wreak some carnage on the sleepy, little town.
There’s a training a montage (again, every good origin story needs one of these) and much soul searching, when despite numerous attempts, they can’t morph into their armours. Rita amongst all this, is slowly going about her business of finding the Zeo Crystal and resurrecting the giant, golden, golem/monster, Goldar that she hopes will retrieve it for her. This all fits into place nicely, building to an action packed showdown. And I have to say, I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed the final thirty minutes of this film. I enjoyed the entire film, I’m absolutely not knocking the rest of it, but particularly the action at the end. The film spent so much time developing the new Rangers, making them bond as a group, giving them a reason to fight and training them that it really had to pay off at the end. I’m pleased to say that Israelite and Gatins both succeeded in making it pay off.
Shoutouts to the Megazord birthing (can’t think of a better word?) moment, Zack’s near miss with the car full of nuns and the very nicely worked piece of symmetry at the end with the slap on Rita, which gave a nice little nod back to Billy and Jason’s first time meeting. I like little moments like that and do my best to mention them every time they occur.
In terms of performances, I’ll try not to break down each and every one, but I felt the young quintet of actors comprising the Rangers all did great jobs and had good chemistry on screen together. If I was pushed into picking a top three then I’d probably go with Lin, Cyler and Scott in no particular order. RJ Cyler in particular did amazing playing the autistic Billy and I’d say had the most development as a character throughout. Dacre Montgomery was giving me Chris Pine as Captain Kirk vibes and certainly did a fine job too, whilst Becky G. was maybe my weakest of the five. Hader did a good job as Alpha-5 and Cranston was magnificent as Zordon. I know it was only a voice part, but I love that man and his voice is tremendous. Speaking of voices, Elizabeth Banks was ok as Rita, but what was going on there? Was she channeling the Wicked Witch of the West or what?
I enjoyed this film, probably more than I thought I would’ve, I’d say. It felt like an attempt at an amalgamation between the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy and whilst never coming close to either, it still easily held my attention for the two hour running time and was a fun, entertaining, family friendly film. Visually, it was stunning throughout and I loved the nods to the tv series with the score in the finale (I’m pretty damn sure that retro synth was similar to the show). I would absolutely recommend giving this a blast if you haven’t already.