Film review: Power Rangers a nostalgic ride

When the world is in danger from a resurrected villain, the most logical thing to do is assemble a band of high school teenagers to defeat her.

On the outside, Power Rangers sounds like some outrageous action porn that Hollywood wanted to take advantage of during this nostalgia revival period, but it’s one of the most surprising movies you’ll see.

Power Rangers became a cultural phenomenon in the 90s. The premise was youths being given powers that allowed them to “morph” into specialized suits and defeat the villain of the week. The Power Rangers series are the Americanized version of Japan’s Super Sentai series and actually borrows footage from this source material. Each season introduced a different cast of Rangers with a different big bad they were up against.

I watched Power Rangers for many years growing up and I had way too many toys. I eventually grew out of it, but that didn’t stop my excitement when I heard the franchise would be getting this generation’s Hollywood treatment.

Power Rangers (2017) is mainly based off the original Power Rangers series, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. The first act of the movie provides an interesting and refreshing backstory to the Power Rangers’ leader, Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and their main villain Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks). From there, we’re introduced to each of the five Power Rangers as they experience the struggles of being a high schooler. The movie does an impressive job at weaving in these introductions into central locations as opposed to shoehorning them into short segments for each character (Looking at you, Suicide Squad).

The Rangers share the same names and basic traits of the original Power Rangers cast. Beyond that, the movie does a good job of modernizing the characters and their struggles. Without going into too much detail, each Ranger seems to have a struggle that’s meant to make them more relatable in today’s world and they all have a reason to be fighting. The actors portraying the Rangers are perfect. Casting mostly no-name actors was a bold and smart thing to do for this type of reboot. Doing this almost makes them more relatable and likeable.

Once the Rangers are all assembled, they’re introduced to the movie’s big bad, Rita Repulsa. This character was in the original series, but was developed as a non-intimidating and wild villain with little motivations. The Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) in Power Rangers (2017) has come back to life after being a mummy for millions of years and is terrifying. She’s set on recovering an ancient artifact that holds an immense amount of power capable of destroying the planet. Very early on, we find out that she’s more than willing to kill a Power Ranger unlike in the original series when the character seemed to toy with them. This was the perfect change to a character that built the stakes for the movie.

The pacing in Power Rangers was one of the most surprising parts about it. Far too often in origin movies like this, there’s too much screen time wasted on exposition. Within ten minutes, we’re introduced to the idea that this motley crew of teenagers may have received some kind of powers. There’s a perfect amount of plot and character development between then and the movie’s climax. I was really impressed with how much they could develop five different characters in two hours of screen time.

This is a movie based off an old children’s television show, so don’t expect any Oscar-worthy acting or writing. Power Rangers (2017) knows what it is and that makes the whole experience better. It doesn’t try to be an overly gritty reboot and there’re callbacks to the goofy and cheesy source material.

The central theme across all of Power Rangers has been teamwork and Power Rangers (2017) hits this on the head. Throughout the movie, we see the ups and downs of this group of strangers being forced to band together and defeat this common enemy. One of the most magical moments in the movie is when this group is able to overcome their differences and finally morph.

Power Rangers (2017) is a fun and entertaining reboot that sends a universal message about working as a team towards a common goal. It’s something that the casual moviegoer and grown-up Power Rangers fans will appreciate.

Gabe Hewitt

Gabe is a junior mass media student at MSU. He's usually up for anything. You can find him on Twitter (@gabehewitt) or you can email him at gabriel.hewitt@mnsu.edu.

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