Power Rangers (2017)
Director: Dean Israelite
Writers: John Gatins
Stars: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G., Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks, Bill Hader
Review by Mike DeAngelo:
When the first iteration of the Power Rangers hit the U.S. in 1993, I was eight years old – and I, like many other eight-ish year olds, fell head over heels in love with it. It was unlike anything else on U.S. TV, mainly because it was repurposed from Japanese television. It was colorful, corny, fast-paced, action-tastic, and over the top. Looking back on it, the show doesn’t hold up much at all because it was so cheap and horribly written/acted – not to mention that they basically made the same episode over and over again for years on end. The films didn’t improve things at all, aside from upping the production value (which now looks as bad as the show). Now, years and many team iterations later, Saban wants to re-introduce their Rangers to a whole new generation, before they go the way of the dino-zords.
Did they succeed? The answer is a big YES – but, with caveats. If you grew up loving the Power Rangers like me, this movie is an updated, yet nostalgic blast from the past. If you want to introduce your kids to the wonder of the Power Rangers, this is a great entry point. However, if you never liked or knew the Power Rangers and aren’t young enough to overlook some shortcomings that nostalgia will cover up for adults, this movie IS NOT for you. It’s still corny and action-tastic, but the acting and writing are still questionable at points.
- The first half of the movie is EXTREMELY strong – which surprised me, as I figured that I’d just be chomping at the bit for the movie to get to the Rangeriffic action.
- Everyone outside of the Blue Ranger are fairly cookie cutter characters, but some fair better than others. The Rangers that receive the most story and screen time, Dacre Montgomery (the Red Ranger), RJ Cyler (the Blue Ranger), & Naomi Scott (the Pink Ranger), actually hold their own fairly well. I loved Dacre and RJ. Dacre stands strong as Jason, the Red Ranger, and clearly feels like the leader of the team (acting and presence-wise).
- Billy, The Blue Ranger, plays what seems like the first superhero on the autism spectrum. To my surprise, they approach the autism with respect, accuracy, and heart – to the point where Billy really was the heart of the movie.
- They spend a lot of time with the Rangers getting to know each other – it helps secure the team dynamic, which could have felt forced otherwise.
- Veterans Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks do amazingly well with the small amount of material that they’re given. This is especially clutch for Banks. If she didn’t commit as hard to the ridiculous, Rita Repulsa, the villain would fall flatter that a crushed Putty soldier.
- That first team Zord moment - you’ll know when it happens. I was fist pumping in the audience…
- With the above said about Banks’ Rita, the villain is written as cliché and two-dimensional as the original character. She’s just evil for evil’s sake. Blah.
- The Black Ranger and the Yellow Ranger can’t act their way out of a cardboard box, which becomes most apparent during a campfire scene just before the third act…*shivers*
- While the first half is refreshingly kinetic and new-feeling, the final act devolves into a fairly by-the-numbers hero finish.
The new Power Rangers movie takes the standard Ranger episode structure, stretches it out, slaps a new coat of paint on it, and shines it up like new. If you look closely, you’ll see the paint is fairly cheap, but if you just relax and roll with it, the movie really shines. It’s everything that I loved about the Rangers as a child – fun, corny, colorful, action-tastic, and, above all, ALWAYS entertaining. Don’t expect a Marvel masterpiece, expect a damn Power Rangers movie.