When I decided to watch the Power Rangers film, I went into it with a bit of a glib attitude. As a kid I watched the early TV Japanese TV series with its blocky robot and rubber suited monsters. It was pretty much a slam, bang, smack 'em up TV show where a giant robot beat up giant monsters that were thrown that them from an evil woman named Rita.
This film was directed by Dean Israelite off a screenplay John Gatins (Real Steel, Flight, Kong: Skull Island).
The cast includes Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things), Naomi Scott (Terra Nova), RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin and Becky G., with Elizabeth Banks (Modern Family, The Hunger Games) as the evil Rita and Bryan Cranston (Super Mansion, Sneaky Pete, Breaking Bad) as Zordon.
As the film rolled on, rather than all the old stuff getting repeated and hashed out quickie origins story where we see a new version of the Rangers, I found myself watching a surprisingly well thought out story about five troubled youths who are worthy enough to be granted the power of becoming what's known as the Power Rangers, soldiers charged with the duty of protecting Earth from the evil of Rita and her minions.
Wait, no redone origin story, but rather, an insightful focus on the characters and what makes them tick? Wow... was not expecting that. This kind of history or info brings everything about the characters more to the front than the usual origin film and they spent the first two acts of the film giving us character motivations and growth.
We no longer saw karate-wielding action and nifty giant robots, but story and cause.
Acts one and two introduced us to our teenage heroes and their development as they learn about each other and what their destiny is about during their training to be the defenders of the Earth.
I enjoyed the unexpected character evolution and when Rita was introduced into the story, she wasn’t the idiotic comic relief like the character from the TV series. Sure, she had a strange need for gold, but it'wasn't the funny Rita, but an nasty, death dealing Rita we met. Then we were teased with the Zords and they were more elegantly designed than the blocky look of yesteryear.
The classic metamorphosis that came from their 'morphin power' was different and more intelligent (for the source) but when the big pay out came in the film and the Zords combined, we were treated to a rather quick and hidden transformation meant to be awe inspiring as the big morphed robot rose from the ashes of anticipated defeat. Somehow. You could see it for the amazing moment it was or you could view it as a cheaply pulled off moment that was disappointing as they moved to save money on the CGI effects.
Be warned... taking the first two acts to develop the rangers could very well be a slow bit of a spin for younger audience members, but there's enough there that they should be somewhat entertained. I think.
When I originally saw that Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks were attached to this film, it gave me pause, pause that these two would not attach themselves to just any project, and sure enough, I was not disappointed.
Of course there are the moments that paid homage to the original series, when for a quick thirty seconds or so we got the classic TV theme that almost ruined the film, but they kept it short-lived and cute. Then there were the cameos by Jason David Frank and Amy Jo Johnson, two original cast members from the American series, playing the parents to one of the kids who was a Ranger.
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The professional critics over on Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 45% rating, while users over on IMDb gave the film a 6.0/10. To be honest, I could easily give this film a popcorn 7 out of 10.
More importantly, I would not have mind spending money to have watched the film in the theater.
If this franchise continues with sequels, I'm not sure how they can maintain the feel of the first film, with all the character developments out of the way and what not. It could easily devolve into another standard sequel of slapping giant monsters around.
We can hope not... but I'm not sure how they will be able to avoid that and keep the smart approach that made this reboot so fresh. They did set up the idea of introducing the Green Ranger for a new film,
Back in 2018 there was a movie studio auction that sold some major costumes and props from the 2017 film, suggesting there are no sequel plans, and then Hasbro bought the franchise from Saban recently, adding it to their cinematic universe based on M.A.S.K., Micronauts, Visionaries, Rom, G.I. Joe and Transformers.
Would they pull the rangers into this shared world of films? They're going to have enough trouble convincing people that the shit editorial treatment Michael Bay gave the Transformers films isn't going to happen in the Bumblebee prequel.
My guess is that it will not be likely. Power Rangers and Transformers may be too much alike, but heck, you never know. Hasbro says they're thinking about a sequel, and to stay tuned. More specifically, they've recently been quoted to saying that they "will work with a film studio to develop a new Power Rangers movie as a follow-up to the 2017 release." But I've seen those sales pitches to appease fans and nothing more. We'll see.
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