Power Rangers (2017) review
So I grew up with Power Rangers. I watched that stuff every day, it was great. The crazy monsters, the Bulk and Skull, the robots, the Amy Jo Johnson (don’t deny it). It was super fun. And it still is, I’ve been glued on the Twitch Presents Power Rangers thing for the last couple weeks, it’s been great fun up to S.P.D. (and RPM was legitimately really fun too, to my surprise). It’s campy and stupid, but it’s just a fun show. I also watched some of the sentai stuff more recently, it’s really fun too.
Back in the day however I actually stopped watching at the end of Mighty Morphin. See, Mighty Morphin ends with the rangers LOSING (the base getting blown up and all). I got pissed at that as a kid. So I sadly missed Zeo, thankfully missed Turbo (though I did see the Turbo movie), and sadly missed the really good In Space and anything following that (which varies wildly in quality).
Anyways, I thought this was a weird thing to do, reboot the original Mighty Morphin series. It’s such an iconic, timeless thing. There’s characters we love and clearly they were going to change them all. The one trailer I watched showed what looked like a much more serious take on the whole Power Rangers idea. I wasn’t sure what to think of it, particularly because reboots of classic franchises recently have largely ranged from “not really worth watching” to “absolute worthless garbage”. I was worried.
Read on and see if it lives up to or surpasses the original!
Starting with my overall thoughts again, because I might be going into more spoiler-y stuff afterwards.
So my thoughts about Power Rangers… well, a week ago I went to see Kong: Skull Island. If you haven’t seen that yet, go see it instead of Power Rangers. It’s a MUCH better movie. I was thinking of reviewing it, but I suck at reviewing movies so I don’t do it much.
As for Power Rangers itself, it was better than I was expecting. You can’t go see it expecting something that’s anything like the original series though. Power Rangers fans aren’t gonna get the same kind of stuff they usually get. Whether that’s a good or bad thing will be for you to decide.
The original Power Rangers is campy and stupid and has wacky monsters and horrible acting and is awesome pretty much because of that, this movie is the opposite of just about everything in there. It’s really serious, it’s all about the characters, their past and personality and not really about Power Rangers… Power-Rangering (that’s a word now).
Oh, I must say that, despite her being NOTHING like in the original, Rita is really cool here. She’s scary and legitimately a threat to the world unlike the original. She’s handled a bit weird, but when she gets serious she’s great.
The movie has massive pacing issues, as it doesn’t really have Power Rangers in it until the very end. It’s like a 2 hour long “episode 1”. I like the characters except for Trini and Zack… not that they’re bad, but rather because they’re massively under-developed compared to Billy, Jason and Kimberly. You can’t connect to them much. The special effects are solid, the few combat scenes are really cool, I just feel the first hour and 45 minutes should’ve been compressed to, like, 30 minutes, then have more monster fighting scenes.
As a fan of Power Rangers, it was nice to have some classic references (and foreshadowing for sequels), but the lack of campiness and ridiculous monsters and overall wackyness might be jarring to some. A lot of it just doesn’t work like Power Rangers usually work. There’s parts in the final scenes that I feel like they cut out some things, like how the rangers don’t have their own unique weapons like the original (Jason has a sword, that’s it).
I guess if you aren’t a fan of Power Rangers you’ll probably enjoy it in the same way you may enjoy a Marvel origin story movie. If you are a fan of Power Rangers, you might be disappointed in the massive shift in tone, but you’ll probably have some fun with it nonetheless. It’s not better than the original, but it’s not worse than the original. It’s just really different.
It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not a tremendously amazing movie. I think it’s a movie that will improve, overtime, as sequels come out. And I hope they do release sequels.
Story and the “Godzilla Problem”
The base story is that Jason gets in trouble with the law by doing a shitty prank involving a cow to another school’s sports team (but messing up and getting into a chase with the police and nearly dying). He gets removed from his football team, and put in detention at school on saturdays. There he meets Billy and Kimberly, and befriends Billy since he can hack the house-arrest thing the police latched on to him. He ends up being dragged to a quarry where Billy goes to find stuff. Somehow Kimberly is there diving into the water in her underwear (yay). Zack is around too… for some reason… and Trini is there too… for some reason (listening to death metal and doing poses… that’s never explained). Billy blows up rocks, and they find a weird crystal wakk with different-colored rocks embedded in it that they take out. After getting into a train accident, they all wake up in their beds unscathed, and find out they’ve become super strong, seemingly because of the rocks. They go back to the place, find Zordon, who tells them they need to morph to fight Rita, who is back after being missing for 65 million years. At this point they train against fake putties and try to figure out how to morph. They learn about each other, become friends, and eventually fight Rita. There’s lots of stuff that I won’t mention here though.
Actually the movie does this thing where it starts in the Cenozoic era. It’s kinda weird. You see Zordon as the red ranger, some other alien as the yellow ranger who dies, and Rita as the green ranger about to destroy the world, but somehow Zordon summons a meteor and kills himself and knocks out Rita. It’s kinda cool to see some backstory, and surprisingly an explanation for the Zords.
So this movie has what I called the “Godzilla Problem”. The 2014 american Godzilla movie had this thing, where they didn’t really show Godzilla or monster battles until the last 10-15 minutes of the movie (teasing us the rest of the way). And that’s what this movie does (mostly minus the teasing). There’s no “Power-Rangering” until the last 15 minutes or so. It’s ALL about establishing the characters and concept, but they don’t even morph until, like, 20 minutes from the end. When that happens the movie gets really cool, but it takes a long time to get there. It’s still fun though, whereas Godzilla wasn’t great until the last part.
Story isn’t bad, just the pacing is really stupid. It takes SO long for anything (that you want to see) to happen. But what’s the is fine.
Jason is a star football player in high school. He messes up his sports career though, but ends up maturing due to having to deal with being the leader of the Rangers (because red). I started out hating him but by the end I thought he was pretty cool.
Billy is an autistic nerd who likes to collect random things. He’s pretty funny, and likes making things explode. He’s probably the most loveable character in the movie.
Kimberly is a hot girl, who did mean things to her ex-friends and punched her ex-boyfriend in the teeth. Strangely she ends up being the one with the most to deal with within the rangers. I liked her, and not just because of the underwear diving thing.
Trini is a girl. Her family moves to different cities a lot so she has no friends. That’s pretty much as far as she goes.
Zack is a dude. He has a mom that’s sick. That’s about as far as he goes.
Zordon is a dick. He does end up taking on a more mentor-ish role, but for the most part he’s a dick that keeps putting the rangers down. He’s weird but sympathetic.
Alpha 5 isn’t annoying, and doesn’t have a weird accent like in Turbo. I didn’t mind him even though his design is weird.
Rita is awesome. She’s literally nothing like her original depiction may it be visually or personality-wise (in fact she’s the green ranger here, though that doesn’t really lead to anything beyond the intro and probably the sequel). But she’s really evil and creepy, and legitimately kills a bunch of people so she’s a much bigger threat than “Yo let’s transform Kimberly’s purse into a monster that does nothing”. She’s the best part of the movie.
Goldar isn’t a character. He’s a being that Rita creates to destroy the world. No talking, no having a badly-lipsynched face, just a big being made of gold with wings that he doesn’t use to fly. He has colored… stuff instead of a face. I find him cool in the context of the movie, though he’s not the cool Goldar from early Mighty Morphin (or from later when he gets much dumber for some reason).
In general I do like the characters, though I do wish we had a bit more about Trini and Zack since they give us nearly nothing. Unlike the original rangers though they never act out of character, they’re all fairly consistent (in the original they acted kinda random to find ways to fit with the bizarre japanese sentai footage). One thing that hasn’t changed from the original is that the rangers definitely look older than teenagers. I could believe Billy and Trini are teens, but the others… they’re kinda pushing it IMO. But in actuality they’re all 20 years old or older (Zack’s actor is 29). Not sure what it is with teenagers in Power Ranger always being in the 20s.
The autism thing
So there’s this saying in cinema, “Show, don’t tell”. If you show something, you don’t have to waste time describing it for us. See, in this movie, Billy is autistic. And the moment you see him, you understand that right away and understand why he acts the way he does. But then, a few scenes in, he has this really stupid scene where he decides to explain that he’s autistic and what that means and stuff… why? You showed us he was autistic. You showed us how he reacts to different things already. You don’t need to explain this.
I have no problem with Billy being autistic, whatever, it’s just part of him in this version. It just annoys me that they shove it in our faces so hard. Remove that one stupid scene and nothing changes. His autism does lead to one of the funnier lines in the movie though.
No Bulk and Skull
That’s just sad. Like ’em or not, Bulk and Skull were a really important part of the original show. There IS a bully character, but he’s not really a replacement to Bulk and Skull. He’s just a dumb bully with no relevance. Meh.
The suits, zords and other stuff
You don’t get to see the rangers in-costume much. But the costumes are pretty cool. Definitely Iron Man inspired. They show a surprising amount of grey but they still clearly show their actual colors on most of the costume. They have some features of the originals, mostly in the helmet (though red ranger’s helmet looks like a bike helmet), showing the dinosaur (or Mammoth, or sabertooth tiger) they’re based on. In general I don’t mind them, they look a bit better than I assumed they would.
The zords are a lot smaller than I thought, but they look pretty badass. I find the Blue, Black and Yellow ones don’t have enough of their color on them, sometimes I mixed them up depending on the angles they popped up in. But I love that the zords actually do something here, when in the original they basically just right away formed into the megazord and separate zords did mostly nothing. They don’t look as cool as the classics (though the
So the megazord. WAAAAAAAAAAAY too much grey. It should have more of the colors on it. . It kinda looks like a Michael Bay Transformer, but a bit cooler/more distinct. You can see the rangers in their own cockpits which actually works out really nicely (turns out each ranger controls an arm or leg… so wtf does Red do?).
The putties are not at ALL like the originals. Here they’re 4-legged rock golems. They look cool, just… not what I was expecting, even considering everything else. I feel they’d work more as the grunts for a new Power Rangers series, more than a reboot of Mighty Morphin, would’ve loved to see them more based on the originals.
Generally nothing to write home about, but THE THEME SONG IS THERE. They actually use it in a way that calls back to the original, and they didn’t change it. There was that thing with other reboots of classic things were they don’t have the classic music (or just random call-backs to it, like they have it on a radio or something in Transformers), or they fuck it up by trying to make it more “modern” and “cool”.
So the movie teases sequels. I mean, what the rangers are protecting is called the Zeo Crystal. Gee I wonder what that will do later on! Also there’s an after-credits scene that teases what we all want to see.
I WANT to see sequels. Not specifically because this movie was amazing, but rather because… this was decent setup. Now in sequels they can give us what we want. Maybe start the sequel with them fighting a ridiculous-looking monster before turning around and going back to serious stuff, probably involving the green ranger and Lord Zedd.
If this wasn’t made with the idea to pump out sequels I feel it’s a waste.