Huge question marks are always raised whenever a beloved franchise is given a big budget cinematic makeover because more often than not, studios tend to for unknown reasons stray away from the source material, making the on-screen adaptation more easy on the eye for the general public and concocting the original incarnation into something unrecognizable for the fans. But I think it’s safe to say that while Lionsgate and Saban offers a modern spin on this iconic franchise, it is still the Power Rangers we all know and love – the Power Rangers which doesn’t forget its roots of being inexplicably cheesy and campy at the same time.
65 million years ago, Red Ranger, Zordon and his team lost the battle on Earth protecting the Zeo Crystal. He hides the Rangers’ power source, the Power Coins and sacrifices himself in the process. Fast forward to modern-day Angel Grove, five teenagers are chosen by destiny to become the next line of legendary warriors called the Power Rangers. Although sceptical about their sudden empowerment, they soon learn that as Power Rangers, they are the only ones who can stop the impending attack from space villainess, Rita Repulsa who betrayed Zordon and his team during the battle.
Perhaps the biggest update to this version of the Power Rangers is the switch from five chosen goody two shoes to five prepubescent teenagers who have random bouts of premenstrual syndrome. Fate draws them into a detention class where they meet and from then on, everything else is history. To be fair, there isn’t anything wrong portraying the chosen rangers as flawed teenagers with a plethora of personal problems. But when the film shows us too much of their unexplainable shifts in mood and incessant whining about absolutely nothing, Power Rangers can feel like a coming-of-age movie with stereotypically easily irritable teenagers as its main cast.
However, the characters are much more likeable when their leader, Jason is given the task of helping the group build rapport and a sense of camaraderie with each other. Dacre Montgomery is given a lot of work to do here in the script as the Red Ranger and he gives a very convincing performance in the role; imbuing a sense of confidence and leadership which is characteristic of an exemplary Red Ranger.
Never have I imagined a Power Rangers film to have blatant product placement but yes, we now live in a world where that exists. In fact, we probably have to thank Krispy Kreme for funding this movie (maybe even the next five planned movies) because their brand was so shamelessly rammed into the main storyline that they must have paid a hefty sum for it to even materialize. As much as it was bizarre to constantly hear the destination of ‘Krispy Kreme’ being the primary goal of our heroes, it was still funny to hear Rita Repulsa proclaim Krispy Kreme as being ‘the source of all life’ among other statements. Regardless of this embarrassing product placement, everything still made sense and that is still the most important out of anything. Michael Bay will be taking notes from this for his Transformers series for sure.
It is pretty apparent that this movie banks on the nostalgia of the older generation to receive favourable ratings and Power Rangers is at its best when it re-enacts memorable scenes. I can’t help but smile gleefully from ear to ear when the rangers make the hallmark of ‘superhero landings’, which is quickly followed up by an effortless tussle with Rita’s minions and then finally riding in their sprinting zords with the classic ‘Go Go Power Rangers’ theme from 1995 playing in the background. It is very easy to have fun when Power Rangers proudly basks in its moment and my mind was exploding with sentimentality for this one.
This new Power Rangers is overall a hard to resist trip down memory lane for those who grew up during the era of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and its various other siblings. It has elements which don’t gel too well with the movie as a whole, but reliving one of my most cherished childhood shows through this cinematic imagination renders a tremendous amount of joy in me and I feel a great swell of pity for the travesty which Power Rangers has now become on television. It will definitely please those who remember crying out for their parents to buy them the newest $150 Megazord at Toysrus.
Should you spend money on it? Yes if you are a fan, no if you are not.
Directed by: Dean Israelite
Screenplay by: John Gatins
Based on: Power Rangers by Haim Saban, Super Sentai by Toei Company
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bill Hader, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks
Running time: 124 minutes
Genre: Science fiction/Action