Rob Reviews "Power Rangers"
It has almost become cliché to say that Hollywood has run out of ideas. I fully admit to being vocal about this, but at some point it just has to be realized that the entertainment industry works in cycles and we can roll with it or we can just frustrate ourselves about it. Sure, it has failed more often than not, but every once and again it is nice to be proven wrong, and that is where we are going with “Power Rangers”.
Based on the over twenty-year old worldwide phenomenon that has more iterations than anything with “Law & Order” on it (there have been almost twenty versions of it), a group of teenagers find a set of magical coins that choose them to become the legendary Power Rangers: a team of heroes tasked to protect a life and death creating gem from evil. I mean, really. That’s it.
Not only is this the first go ‘round with this franchise, it is also not the first big screen version, with the first film in 1995 and a sequel with the “Turbo” title two years later. For me, I was a generation ahead of this particular brand, and coupled with the fact that when they took the world by storm, I was working at a large toy retail outlet that had to deal with the mob of parents buying the toys for their kids (this has been documented in detail on our show as well as our audio version of this review), I really wanted NOTHING to do with anything “Power Rangers”. Director Dean Israelite and writer John Gatins must have heard my cries and said, “You know what, Rob? Challenge accepted”. When the first trailers hit for this film, I found myself mildly intrigued, and by the time the full trailer was unleashed upon the masses, I found myself going “I really kinda wanna check this out!” Taking the formula of “The Breakfast Club” with powers, we meet three of the five team members in a weekend detention, as injured football captain and rebel Jason (Dacre Montgomery), disgraced cheerleader Kimberly (Naomi Scott), and autistic outcast Billy (R.J. Cyler) wind up in an excavation site that stumbles them on the mystical coins. Joined by loner Trini (Becky G.) and hermit Zack (Ludi Lin), they form the new team with the help of former ranger and now spirit guide Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) to take on the evil Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks).
The really neat thing here is that Gatins is able to take a story that is totally geared towards the late elementary school crowd (almost to the point of pandering through the eyes of an at-the-time college student who has always been very leery of his geek franchises) and lets it mature while still making it appealing to the next generation of said adolescents. For a film that clears the two-hour mark, I found myself highly entertained from not just a visual aspect (complete with a shot at the “Transformers” franchise… Necessary? Probably not. Funny? I chuckled AND rolled my eyes…) but also from a strong story told by a group of actors that seemed to be embracing the characters and the story. And as much as original actresses Sog Machiko and Carla Perez really did not do anything for me as a villain, Banks absolutely OWNS Rita Repulsa, bringing the darkness to compliment the struggle the team faces to become the heroes and try to save the day from the villain. There are also a couple of new wrinkles added to the characters that have been covered by the media that are not really as big of a deal as the Internet has made them out to be (shock of the year, I know).
“Power Rangers” is a spring film that could easily have been a summer film, complete with action, a solid story, actors that treat their roles with the respect they deserve, and even a few surprises, and if you have seen the film, do the rest of the world a favor and don’t spoil them. There are a couple of points where the crowd that attended the same screening that I did absolutely roared in glee, which made even an old anti-MMPR curmudgeon like me smile. And make no mistake, a sequel is going to happen.