Power Rangers (2017)
Cast: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G.
Director: Dean Israelite
Warning: This might contain slight spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film, please leave now.
By: Myri Nieves
In the wave and trend of remaking old classics into rebranded films with better technology, who best to follow but the Power Rangers? If you were within the ages of 10-12 in the early 90’s, you remember this world wide phenomenon. Five teenagers, randomly selected, were given unworldly powers to fight the forces of evil and keep their home, Angel Grove, and the world, safe from the mighty Rita Repulsa and her band of minions. Using their Power Coins, they are given the ability to morph and use the power of their Zords – based on dinosaurs – to combat the deadly forces of evil.
As a fan of the original series (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) I was – you guessed it – skeptical about this remake. What made the original so great was that it didn’t take itself that seriously and the element of camp made it that much better. They mostly used stock footage from the original version that hailed from Asia in order to fit the gaps of what their budget wouldn’t allow, AKA the Zords and monsters, while adding footage they shot in the USA. Many didn’t really believe a show based on five teenagers with super powers would do well, yet 20 years later here we sit writing a review on a reboot/remake of the original world wide smash.
Like its predecessor before this, Zordon (Bryan Cranston) is a champion for all that is good and fights to save the world. Slightly different to the original – as Zordon’s complete origins are not known canonically – he is part of the original elite Power Rangers to which Rita is a part of too. However, her greed and lust for power leads her to corrupt what the Rangers stood for and in her quest of control power of the galaxy, Zordon defeats her and buries the power coins in hopes of finding a new league of Rangers that will one day find them and defend the planet against her – and other – forces that threaten the galaxy. He then becomes trapped and Rita is buried in hopes to never be found again.
The film then takes us on a journey as we meet all five Rangers, starting by Jason (Dacre Montgomery) a former Football star who is forced to leave the team and be placed under house arrest after a prank gone wrong. In detention, he finds Billy (RJ Cyler) and Kimberly (Naomi Scott) and after helping Billy with a bully, he repays Jason by taking off his house arrest ankle monitor so they can explore a cave Billy’s father was once looking for. After running into Kimberly, Billy explodes a rock, attracting two other students near by, Trini (Becky G) and Zack (Ludi Lin) where they find the power coins. They each take a coin and while fleeing from mine security their car gets hit by a train, but instead of dying, they find themselves in their home and learn they have been granted superhero abilities, much to their surprise and delight. At the same time, Rita (Elizabeth Banks) has been uncovered and she begins to start havoc by stealing gold to build her ultimate minion, Goldar.
After finding Zordon and his faithful robotic companion, Alpha (voiced by Bill Hadar), they discover they are the new league of Power Rangers. Unlike the original, however, Alpha is more of a sarcastic cliche little toy that bosses the Rangers around in an attempt to free Zordon and not to really benefit the Rangers. To become the Rangers, however, they must truly believe in one another to align with the morphing grid and become one with the power. If you think this sounds familiar, I thought of Star Wars as well. In a series of repetitive and sometimes monotonous sequences, we see when they finally develop and become the heroes we all expect, while Rita is growing stronger and recharging herself and murdering anything in her path to obtain the gold she needs to bring Goldar back to life and retrieve the Zeo Crystal, which will allow her complete control of the galaxy.
Elizabeth Banks gives a disastrous and over the top performance as Rita Repulsa, sneering and screaming in order to become ‘evil’. Surprisingly, Banks received little to no backlash for her casting as Repulsa, as the actress for this role has always been of Asian or Mediterranean decent, while Banks is neither. I don’t doubt Bank’s acting abilities, but she needed to reel this one in because while the original camp version of Rita was perfect for that specific version, for something that wants to be a bit more serious and grittier, it needed that kind of subtle performance by Banks to truly strike fear in the hearts of those she wanted to reach with her performance. Instead it’s more of a cringe worthy, look away, type of performance you can’t wait until it leaves the screen so you won’t have to cover your eyes any longer. The added grillz she has on certainly don’t help, either.
While the film does have cheesy aspects to it and the acting isn’t the most top notch, it’s a popcorn blockbuster like you would expect. Filled with fun, life lessons, and the tale-as-old-as-time message that if you truly believe in yourself and the power of love (friendship, in this case) you can achieve anything you want. What’s disappointing about the Power Rangers are that it does deliver us that powerful puff out your chest moment when they are finally in costume and walking in slow motion, but fails to give us that glorious moment with their Zords which are a huge extension of what they are and their power. This could have been achieved if the film had dedicated a bit more time to them and had them looking less like Michael Bay Transformer rejects. Never the less, the film captures the essence and true message of the Power Rangers and despite its faults, it is still a movie to take your kids to see; or to relive your own kid ages. Go go, Power Rangers.
Official Rating: ✰✰✰