When I talk to people about my love for the MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS I usually say something along the lines of “If you take out all of the high-school stuff it is a great show”. Surprisingly this is not the case at all with the 2017 POWER RANGERS film. I found myself so invested in the characters and their struggles that I almost forgot that I was watching a movie about dinosaur robots.
This movie had every opportunity to be a complete letdown for fans and I spent much of the movie expecting it to fall apart. I am happy to report that even though I had some small gripes with the film (more on that later) I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. The Power Rangers are back and better than ever.
I am going to try and keep this review as spoiler free as possible but I do suggest checking out the movie before reading anything about it. It’s best to go in to this one cold. Like me, you may be expecting this movie to completely suck and potentially ruin something that you loved as a child. Maybe the low expectations helped but I genuinely felt like this movie stayed extremely true to the original series while adding a ton of new and exciting elements.
The film opens with some great new backstory and lore to the Power Rangers franchise. This scene also sets up Zordon and Rita Repulsa’s history together in a way that felt fresh while making perfect sense. Rita (Elizabeth Banks) was not at all what I expected and at first it threw me off. She seemed less like an ancient power hungry villain and more like something out of a horror movie but really worked. It reminded me of what I wanted from Enchantress in Suicide Squad but didn’t get. As the movie progresses it is established that Rita Repulsa is a frightening foe and a serious threat to our heroes. Elizabeth Banks was perfectly cast as Rita and she made the roll entirely her own.
Next we meet our high-school heroes and this is where the movie really shines. The movie had a surprising amount of character development for being based on a show that wasn’t really known for that sort of thing. Each individual character had at least one moment where they were extremely relatable and real. Billy played brilliantly by RJ Cyler was the highlight of the entire movie. There was one scene in particular where the team was attempting to connect with each other and it was so well acted that I almost forgot I was watching a movie about high-school kids with giant alien dinosaur robots. The cast is the soul of this movie and they were incredibly believable in their motivations. Their interactions with Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) seemed spot on and their progression into heroes felt very real.
When the action finally got going it felt classic and just campy enough with several respectful nods to fans the show. It seemed like they were able to capture the magic of how this show looked to kids when the show originally aired. Sure the show doesn’t look great now but when I was a kid it was incredibly epic. This movie captured the magic of the original while updating and improving it.
Overall I really liked this movie. I had some issues with the film but none of these issues hurt the movie terribly. Some of the CG effects in the early parts of the film seemed very odd and pretty bad. The effects used in the latter half of the movie looked amazing so it made up for it. The monster, Goldar, summoned by Rita was not very impressive and showed no resemblance to the source material’s character of the same name. The constant barrage of product placement was distracting at first but towards the end of the film it becomes a major plot point that is so silly that it actually won me back over. These are relatively minor problems and shouldn’t keep you from checking out this movie, especially if you are a longtime fan. The film lives up to the franchise name and takes it in exciting new directions.