Power Rangers is the best franchise refresh in years.
My level of hype for this was over that of the painfully disappointing Assassin’s Creed. I was also dreadfully concerned it’d be another case of Blair Witch crushing defeat. I’m so thankful to be wrong.
I didn’t expect to be particularly wowed by the cinematography or editing in a Power Rangers production. I’ve consistently been into the show for the kitschy, campy aspects. An early scene in the movie is reminiscent of a defining scene from Children of Men. Clever editing covers up the passage of time and and the pacing is perfection. It ups every possible ante.
Zordon and Rita are surprisingly realized. Zordon feels more heroic, given the context of the film and Rita feels far more frightening and repulsive than she ever has.
Some might complain that the bulk of the film is spent out of costume, but the pace lines up with that of the episodes. It never feels like it doesn’t want to be a Power Rangers film — everything revolves around Power Coins and saving Angel Grove. For PR fans, what’s not to love?
On to the individual Rangers — who are quite realized in the modest runtime.
Jason is the most sympathetic he’s ever been. The pain of his father living vicariously through him is evident, yet subtle.
Kimberly has a surprisingly dark story, considering the levity of MMPR. I felt like the film could’ve went darker in a later scene, but my “head canon” and the circumstances allow a certain detail to go unspoken.
Zack’s soft side is a nice counter to his hard exterior. Watching him care for his ailing mother is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. In fact, being able to see the Rangers’ parents at all is a step up from what we usually see in Power Rangers media.
I was impressed with how certain characters were handled with their quirks — Billy, in particular. I was worried that his character would be a caricature of a very real condition. Aside from one awkwardly forward line, Billy is perfect — and possibly less of a caricature than his original MMPR form.
Trini stands out as one of the few personal weakspots. Becky G’s acting is stilted and flat out bizarre; following a particularly harrowing scene, Trini is entirely blasé about it. Her edge feels forced in a sea of naturally growing characters.
There’s an instance of product placement that, under normal circumstances, would annoy me (it was one of my biggest gripes about Man of Steel). In this case, the product placement is done to great, humorous effect (and really, really shines in an already surprisingly funny movie). It’s something you won’t soon forget.
I also have to commend Lionsgate for contracting excellent CGI artists who understand the weight of objects. Creatures and vehicles of incredible mass would not float around effortlessly. Even the smallest character (Alpha 5) interacts with human characters in a realistic way (Billy sparring with him is a sight to behold). Zordon himself looks otherworldly and unbelievable in the most positive of ways. The tech is believable while still seeming “out-of-this-world.”
The script, I admit, can be goofy and seemingly unnatural. However, it’s Power Rangers; such things come naturally. Some moments are surprisingly poignant and it never feels like a film made for profit, but a film made out of love for the franchise. Some amount of cheese is to be expected.
Regardless, Power Rangers succeeds in leaving you wanting more. From future teases in plot to my desire to see the five Rangers grow, it sets itself up well for a franchise. Does it stack up to Marvel or what DC is doing? Not at all. But can PR carve its own niche before the superhero bubble bursts?
I hope so.