It really is kind of remarkable that three weeks in a row in the spring of 2017 the main wide theatrical releases are all remakes/reboots of things that were originally created during my childhood. Last week was Beauty and the Beast (which I didn’t care for), next week is Ghost in the Shell, and of course this week is Power Rangers. I am both happy and disgusted at this trend toward nostalgia: happy because it means we get some fresh new interpretations of properties I love, but disgusted because most of them feel creatively bankrupt. Thankfully Power Rangers is more fresh than bankrupt, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have significant flaws.
Power Rangers is the story of five ordinary teens that must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove – and the world – is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so, they will have to overcome their real-life issues and before it’s too late, band together as the Power Rangers.
Based on the existing score on the movie review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, I wasn’t expect much going into this film (it was in the mid 40% range when I saw it), but I was surprised how much I enjoyed certain aspects of the movie. There’s a lot that works. However, there is a lot that doesn’t, unfortunately.
Most of the characters were pretty well fleshed out. Some worked better than others, but overall they were well put together. The two best characters in the movie are without a doubt Red Ranger Dacre Montgomery and Blue Ranger RJ Cyler. In fact, i would say that Cyler completely steals the movie; he did such a fantastic job in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl two years ago and is the best thing about this film. There were a lot of choices with the characters that didn’t work for me, mostly involving the girl rangers unfortunately. I never ‘bought’ the bond that was created between most of the rangers, and I think the poor writing of the girl rangers is the culprit for this. It was odd to see such high caliber talent Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks in this movie, but they bring a lot to legitimize the production.
This adaptation strives for verisimilitude and is very earnest. Verisimilitude in the context of film means that it strives for realism. It attempts to make a fantastical story seem plausible in the real world and not just the pages of a comic book or in a weekday afternoon serial. This was first attempted by Richard Donnor in making 1977’s Superman: The Movie and then later by Bryan Singer for his X-Men films and Christopher Nolan in his Dark Knight Trilogy. And that’s definitely what they’re trying to do here. There are very few moments that feel comic-booky or outrageous. The times when it forgets this and hearkens back to its 90’s roots is when the movie doesn’t work for me.
Outside of RJ Cyler’s performance and its earnestness, the other winner is most certainly the movie score. I’m usually not a huge fan of composer Brian Tyler’s work, but this one was unique and I honestly can’t wait to listen to it when it gets released on Spotify.
Overall, Power Rangers is a decent film. For me it got bogged down by its cheesy roots. However, if you grew up watching the TV show, I really think you will adore this movie.