Film Review

‘Power Rangers’ (2017). Non-Spoiler Review.

It’s DOUGHNUT TIME!!! Wait, no, it’s Morphin Time! Wait, no, it’s REBOOT TIME!!!

Still from imdb.com, ©Saban Entertainment

There is no need for a complex review of this film. For those who are familiar with the franchise, and even for those who aren’t, this is a joyously simple and fun film to watch: the plot is a tried and tested Threat-Protector-Challenge-Reequilibrium thread, it boasts some quite impressive CGI, and is positively crammed to the rafters with multilayered humour that had everyone in the screening chuckling. For those who were nervous about rewriting the beloved TV and Feature series, I can testify that though there are certain alterations to the characterizations and some formative narrative elements, this reboot is without a shadow of a doubt a fitting addition to the Rangers ‘verse.

The Rangers themselves are handled with respectable aplomb: these teens are a world away from the bright and bubbly clichés stereotyped by earlier incarnations of Ranger teams, presenting instead a more measured and reflective team of teens who quite believably have stepped out of our own society and onto the big screen. In fact it is the construction of the five teenage protagonists, their emotional and personal complexities, which elevates this film above and beyond the flippancy of previous franchise productions. However, that is not to say that they don’t have their goofier moments, and it’s the treatment of those scenes where the insertion of zany moments prevents the mood from slipping into Twilight territory. If the gang are moody, the backstories more than suggest why; when the gang are laughing together, they shine out from the scene. What makes the film a success is the contrast between the opposing moods of optimism and pain, and one specific moment around a campfire manages to balance the joyous with the woeful with pitch-perfect poignancy.

There’s been a fair amount of debate about whether this film is trying to be a “gritty” interpretation of the franchise, and that the moody teen trope is exaggeratedly exploited in an attempt to give audiences material that is more socioculturally and emotionally accessible. No narrative element is drastically overplayed in this film, and no one convention is sandwiched into a plotline that it will ruck the development of the film. It can sometimes feel as though the handling of the limelight moments of character contextualisation seem rushed, as if the filmmakers realised believable characters needed “depth” to their stories but didn’t want to spend too much time on the Build Up stages of the film.

There is also the issue with that teensy amount of product placement throughout two thirds of the film that balances precariously on the cusp between ridiculously laughable and simply ridiculous… I’m not sure anyone will be shocked to learn that the well-known brand of consumable, calorific delights provides both a site for a crucial plot-point and a departure point for a lot of self-aware humour. Whether it’s a hit or a miss is purely a matter of personal perception, but for me it just squeaked into the realm of the risible that seemed to be trying to translate to the Saban Shwarma Bars.

There is also that difficulty with the significance of the identity of the Green Ranger…

Ultimately, these are very minor considerations in reflection of the majority of positives combining forces within this feature. It’s easy to pick apart the flaws once you’ve left the seductive darkness of the screening, but during the film very few issues are immediately evident during the viewing process.

Still from imdb.com, ©Saban Entertainment

 

So, what else needs to be considered in reflection of this film? Important things to highlight without revealing too many details are:

  • Bryan Cranston’s Zordon is as one would expect: noble, concerned for his new charges, a fountain of knowledge that guides the new Rangers, but never babies them. For all that the five protagonists are teens, they are also the future Power Rangers- you don’t spoon-feed Power Rangers.
  • Alpha 5 says “Ay-Ay-Ay” at least once. It does not seem forced, it does not seem out of character, it does suit the moment.
  • The first Morph is a visual treat. The suits themselves are an interesting revisioning of the cleanliness and optimistic colours of the originals, and the morph itself is clearly in the same transformative vein of modern sci-fi and fantasy “avenger” films, but the overall effect is rather impressive.
  • Zords. Mother-fricking Zords.
  • The iconic theme tune makes an appearance, and at the best possible moment in the narrative.
  • Goldar really is a LOT of gold, and does a fair impersonation of Godzilla stomping about Angel Grove.
  • Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa is suitably unhinged for the main antagonist: she is the classic embodiment of corruption covered with a thin enamel layer of aesthetic modification.
  • There is an impressive amount of maturely-handled meta-humour in this film with no small amount of narrative tongue-in-cheek. Watch out for a familiar looking yellow Camaro.
  • Stay during the credits- there are some interesting teasers for any potential sequel.
Still from imdb.com, ©Saban Entertainment

I grew up watching the Power Rangers, and was something of a fan of Kimberley’s suit and Trini’s Zord, so the news of a reboot had me at once excited and somewhat nervous. We are emotionally protective of the things we knew and loved as children, and I was no exception in response to this film. What I can say without doubt is that this is a good film, a respectable reboot and a highly enjoyable couple of hours viewing.

Go Go Power Rangers!

 

 

‘Power Rangers’ (2017). PG-13. In cinemas now.

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