This week saw the release of Saban’s Power Rangers. A film that is considered by some a reboot, but it really is just a cinematic re-imagining of the the popular 90s television property. I say it’s not a reboot because their is no influence of 1995 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (MMPR): The Movie to be found in this film. If feels more like a greatest hits mix of 80s and 90s teen films like Breakfast Club or Varsity Blues combined with a more grounded version of MMPR or at least as grounded as you can get it with alien power coins and robots that look like Dinosaurs. This is my review. SPOILERS AHEAD
The plot is rather similar to the plot of the pilot episode of the MMPR, with far more character development. This time around the titular heroes aren’t five goodie two shoe teenagers with so called attitude, but rather teenagers who are deemed outcasts for one way or another for being “different”.
They are all different in their own way; Billy (RJ Cyler) is on the spectrum of autism , Trini (Becky G) is struggling with her family’s reaction to her sexual identity of being gay, Jason (Dacre Montgomery) feels the pressure of being the golden boy quarterback in a small town (similar to Johnny Moxon in Varsity Blues) who has fallen from grace after a stunt goes horribly wrong, Kimberly (Naomi Scott) has a conflict of conscious when she realizes that a mean act might mean she isn’t as nice person as perceived, and then there is Zack (Ludi Lin) who has to deal with the pressures of a teenager while having to carry the heavy responsible to provide and take care of his terminally ill mother all alone.
These five teens with attitude stumble upon several colored crystal coins buried in a rock quarry near the town’s goldmine (its believable for teens to hangout there in a small town) and are unwittingly imbued with super powers after each taking one. Shortly thereafter, they meet Zordon in a buried spaceship who tasks them with saving the galaxy from Elisabeth Bank‘s Rita Repulsa (who is having a lot fun) and her nefarious plot to raise her minion Goldar (as the name suggest is made of gold) to obtain the Earth’s Zeo Crystal (an ancient crystal that can take or create life) as the Power Rangers.
The leader of the Rangers is, as is customary, the Red Ranger a mantle that was once held by Zordon himself. Filling out the cadre of Rangers is the Blue Ranger Billy (RJ Cyler), Pink Ranger Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Black Ranger Zack (Ludi Lin) and Yellow Ranger Trini (Becky G).
Power Rangers doesn’t waste much time getting into the action with training montages. The teams attempts at morphing are fruitless because they still have yet to connect as a team. Bill Hader haming it up as snarky robot guide Alpha 5 is a nice touch. He does say his signature catch phrase of “Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi!” but in a different context but is still great. And unlike other remakes/reboots that mistake darkness and grittiness for substance, there’s heart and a sense of humor underlying here. Bryan Cranston who is no stranger to MMPR (having voiced several baddies in the TV series)plays the stern overseer of the Rangers, Zordon.
Zordon and Rita’s origin is different in this iteration as well. In the films preface, Zordon was the original Red Ranger and team leader of the Power Rangers 65 million years ago on Earth that included Rita as the Green Ranger. She became intoxicated with the power bestowed on her by the Rangers and betrayed her fellow Rangers in her quest for more power. Zordon was able to defeat Rita by expelling her into the sea. He did so at the loss of his team and was able to bury the teams power coins before his physical form died. Setting the up the coins be discovered by our heroes in present day and therefore setting up the events of the film. All of which leads the new team to battle Rita.
In the end, Power Rangers has a positive message — Be true to yourself! Don’t judge a book by its cover. Anyone no matter their background or obstacles toovercome can achieve greatness. It’s a good film that doesn’t play down to the audience or try to please all demographics. It just tells a great story with humor and heart. Its a highly enjoyable film. PICKED