So I watched Power Rangers…
You know, sometimes procrastination works in your favour. I kept putting off watching this movie. Days turned into weeks and eventually months and I missed my chance to see it at the cinema. I believe all movies deserve be seen at the cinema because that’s the best way to experience them but I definitely don’t believe that all movies deserve the price of a cinema ticket. So while I’m sure seeing Power Rangers kicking butt would have been better on a larger screen, I’m grateful that I didn’t have to pay ever-rising cinema prices to see this.
Okay, basic plot: Five teenagers – who are each outcasts in their own way – stumble upon five Power Coins. These coins grant these five teenagers superhuman abilities. As the group investigates the coins and their new-found powers, they discover an alien spaceship. The spaceship belongs to Zordon (Bryan Cranston) – an ancient, powerful intergalactic warrior who himself once held the powers that the group now have. Zordon tells the teens that they are now The Power Rangers – a group of mighty warriors whose responsibility it is to protect Earth from Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) – a former Ranger gone rogue who seeks to destroy all life in the universe.
The difficulty plaguing remakes is that they have to bring a story that was not meant for the modern era into said era while still keeping the original magic that made the original a hit. When you look at the majority of the films that are being remade, their stories aren’t necessarily timeless. They’re heavily defined by the period in which they were created. Periods in which logic in film wasn’t necessarily king. Periods in which you could get away with campiness and over-the-top stories because “hell, it was the 80’s or the 90’s”. So often when you try to inject modern logic into these stories, the film falls apart and loses its spirit.
That’s the problem with this Power Rangers remake. It constantly feels trapped between attempting to create a modern, realistic telling of the story and providing the goofiness of the original. It never manages to obtain the balance between these two facets and ends up being, simultaneously, far too little and far too much of both. For those looking for a fun, nostalgia-filled trip to your childhood, the film is too angsty overall and for those seeking a modern, teenage-driven drama, the film is too silly. In their attempt to create a movie that caters to both the original fanbase and Power Rangers virgins, they end up creating a film that will please neither.
My above comments are my thoughts on the film as a whole but there are moments when this film functions well. The film starts off well and gives us a new, grittier backstory. It feels like a decent teenage drama in the first third or so. Problem is that it changes its tone completely and then features the goofiness of the original. Once again, in isolation this worked because it instantly transported me back to my childhood. There’s a scene where the original Power Rangers theme song is used and I couldn’t stop myself from singing along to “Go, go, Power Rangers!” while that electric guitar strung the all too familiar chords from my childhood. It doesn’t last because then the film goes back to being serious, then light-hearted. This film would have been so much better if it had simply decided on one tone. Director, Dean Israelite and screenwriter, John Gatins do a horrible job in their attempt to craft a uniform and harmonious feel to the film.
This film’s incongruous, split personality is perfectly represented by Elizabeth Banks’ portrayal of the villain, Rita Repulsa. There’s this amazing scene in the trailer where Rita appears to be talking to a Ranger and says, “I’ve killed Rangers before…”. From this scene you assume that her character was going to menacing and a bit terrifying. However, the character in the actual movie has a bipolar quality to her. One minute she’s competent and menacing, the other bumbling and idiotic. There’s no consistency to the character at all. It’s a shame because I think Banks could have really crafted an entertaining villain if she’d simply shown more consistency in her portrayal.
There isn’t a lack of consistency in the performances from the main cast, however. They’re all consistently poor. Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G and Ludi Lin star as Jason (Red Ranger), Kimberly (Pink), Billy (Blue), Trini (Yellow) and Zack (Black). respectively. The acting here is clearly set to “kids movie” mode and while the acting is consistent in terms of lack of quality, it does display the inherent topsy-turvy tone of the film. Montgomery – who’s a discount Zac Efron (seriously look at him) – is in the lead and functions as nothing more but a stereotype, as do the rest of characters and the performances behind them. There’s no soul in any performance in this film and that’s a real shame. Though I will say, that out of the lot, I enjoyed Becky G’s performance the most.
Now, being teenagers, The Rangers go through the Earth-shattering drama that all teenagers feel. Drama surrounding identity, place in society, future plans etc. This drama could have been a great point of juxtaposition. All teenagers feel that their lives( and the drama in it) is the end of the world but The Rangers are actually facing the end of the world so the contrast between the two could have been truly entertaining. Unfortunately, the script is so busy doing flips between its two moods that it fails to deliver on this promising aspect. Speaking of failure to deliver – Kanye West’s ‘Power’ is featured in this film and while it makes for a great moment, the song could have been so much better utilised. That sums up this film – a pathalogical and chronic inability to fulfill its full potential.
Overall, Power Rangers never does enough to make itself a truly entertaining remake. It tries to be a Jack-of=all-trades and ends up being a master-of-none. Though I heavily criticised this film, I still enjoyed it because in those moments that it hits the nostalgia sweet spot, it hits it hard. If you were a fan of the original, I’d suggest watching it if there’s literally nothing else to do and you feel like reminiscing; otherwise, give it a miss. 6/10
P.S. Aaargh, I forgot to mention how low-budget the film’s action is. Whenever a member of the cast has to make a giant leap or flip, the movement is so unnatural that you can almost see the wire harness that’s pulling them through the air. So, with that in mind, 5/10