Before anyone sees Power Rangers, they should be aware of the history. There is 20 years worth of franchise material, and the first theatrical film featured a villain named “Ivan Ooze”. For this reason, and with the onset of the post-Nolan “dark” franchise reboots, Power Rangers requires a relaxed and contextually placed eye.
Go Go Childhood Series Update!
The new Power Rangers movie updates the original American series with Jason, Kimberly, Trini, Zack, and Billy filling their respective Ranger colors. Personally, I think an update of Power Rangers: Time Force could have started this reboot (Quantum Ranger fans, anyone?). Still, Power Rangers knows their fans and the logical starting point. Of course, five teenagers in Angel Grove suddenly encountering this power is the premise. The mighty morphing power of being a Ranger. Zordon, Alpha-5, and the inherently evil Rita Repulsa (played with so much gusto by Elizabeth Banks) welcome the old aspects. In addition, the rangers become the best of friends to learn their true power.
If any of this sounds trite or cheesy, that’s because it is. Power Rangers has always displayed awesome friendships, despicable monsters, a Megazord, and incredible theme songs. Power Rangers darkens in this new movie, but it does not do away with the lovable qualities of the original series. First and foremost, the lessons are translated extremely well. This new film deals with qualities of individual identity and group efforts in a way that most films lack. Throughout, the five friends are trying to reconcile their differences of individuality, and being a Power Ranger does not hinder this search for identity. Instead, they find support in the group to accept themselves. Power Rangers can be unusually deep if you look for it. Look at the unsubtle remarks in the film of how gold is destroying the world.
Unfortunately, the film lacks in other qualities. Nostalgia helps to cover these small errors, but the pacing and other errors hurt the film. The somewhat incoherent story admirably stumbles its way to the end. Because the film is trying to appeal to a wider audience, the kid-dominated aspects may put off some grown-ups (if that’s how you see yourself). However, if someone has any idea of the Power Rangers’ history, the film welcomes you with open power crystals.
Visually, the film succeeds. The updated effects are fantastic (Zords!). Remember when the Rangers would get hit and sparks would fly out in the original series? This doesn’t happen anymore. Luckily, director Dean Israelite knows the franchise’s history (something Transformers detractors accuse Michael Bay of not having). Because of this, there is an obvious kitsch-factor. The film embraces these characteristics to perhaps some chagrin. Finally, the amazing amount of diversity in Power Rangers ushers in a new era of blockbuster. Power Rangers blasts off in so many good ways that they overshadow the mistakes.
Ultimately, the film does two things. Power Rangers is obviously fan service (which elicited one fan’s yells of “YES!”). The film constrains itself with the need to appeal to a wide audience. Fortunately, the film relies on its characters instead of overtly using FX. The finale, which plays out like a legitimate episode, is pure fun. With this much needed and appreciated reboot, Power Rangers will hopefully find a new fanbase.