Power Rangers Review

The following article contains major spoilers for the Power Rangers film.

First off, I loved this movie. I’ve waited my entire life to see a Power Rangers film and this recent film gave me everything I’ve ever wanted. I was surprised at the amount of emotion and substance this film had. The characters were all deep. They all delivered and contributed something to the team. By the end of the film, I felt connected to these characters. It was one of my main concerns going into this film honestly. I wasn’t sure if the movie would come off too forced, or even condescending with its concentrated efforts on diversity. We live in an age where diversity is an important topic in almost every film and television show. Some argue that diversity has become a trope. Their arguments echo the ones I hear in regards to affirmative action. People who don’t want diversity claim this is all a political game. The claim is that blacks, Latinos, Asians, and other minorities get jobs or roles in place of well-qualified white people. The only reason these minorities get these jobs is because of the sensitive culture we live in. Not only is it our sensitive culture, but our country’s inability to move forward. These ideas that minorities deserve compensation for the pain this country has caused is destroying the very fabric of our country. I want to throw my laptop just for typing that garbage, but a ton of people have that view. They mask it with sayings like, “I’m all for diversity, but,” or “I’m not racist, but.” The phrases change but the nationalism and white supremacy behind them remains the same.

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On the other side of the diversity argument are people who are so angry about diversity, they want every character in fiction to be a minority character. EVERY character who isn’t a minority is considered lame to this group of people. This group became increasingly noticeable during the release of Iron Fist. If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you know that I am a huge advocate for diversity. Changing a white character who has always been white isn’t something I want from the comic book industry. I want them to promote their minority characters they have already. I want fans of diversity to support minority characters when their comics are on the shelf. Too many times fans AND companies have let minority characters die because of their lack of support. These group of people will continue to voice their opinions no matter the character though. While I don’t agree with every argument about diversity out there (as you shouldn’t. Use your brain every once in a while) this fight is a needed one and one that first group of people would let die if they had their way. My point in quickly breaking down these two groups of people is that Power Rangers could have fallen into a trap. By focusing so much on diversity to please the second group, the film could have been lost. Character moments would have felt stale. There’s a fine line because minorities know when a studio is pandering. It’s in our instinctual nature. And racist whites have to be tricked into liking diversity so you can’t force feed it to them like Boyz N’ the Hood. Power Rangers succeeded at real diversity, while giving us great character moments. I don’t care what anyone else thought of this film, but it exceeded my expectations.

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EXPECTATIONS

This was my most anticipated film of 2017. Mainly because of my childhood. But the first trailer really made me feel hopeful. The paragraphs above detail my hesitation with the diversity aspect of the film, but everything else had me excited. The look of the film, the tone, and the story. I expected the story to be a basic origin story but it surprised me in a few areas. I know a lot of people had their reservations about the suits, but I liked the first picture I saw. When they were released, I noticed everyone continued to compare them to Iron Man suits. It’s a bit annoying that any robotic type of suit in film is compared to Iron Man’s now. Fans did the same with Batman’s armor in Batman v. Superman. For those who haven’t seen all three films, Iron Man’s suits, Batman’s armor, and the Power Rangers suits look nothing alike. The image of Jason, the Red Ranger, morphing at the end of the trailer still gets me hyped.

Other than the diversity aspect, my main reservations for this film were in the visuals. I wanted this film to look good and the first couple of trailers looked fine. The last trailer though that showed us most of the third act had me nervous. The action looked clunky, the Rangers looked unfinished, and the Zords fighting Goldar made me uneasy. Rita Repulsa’s putties looked horrible too. The only reason this made me nervous is because of the advances in technology we have. I wondered if the studio wanted to make some kind of joke because of the original series. Maybe it looks mediocre because of the shows? I couldn’t come up with a reason when mediocre films like Transformers and Avatar look fantastic. I wouldn’t necessarily care if the film looked bad, I just wanted the vision of Power Rangers to finally come to life on the screen. Stale effects isn’t a part of that vision to me. Luckily, the first scene of this film made me regret doubting Lionsgate’s ability at making a beautiful looking film.

 

FIND THOSE WHO ARE WORTHY

The very first scene in this film is gorgeous! I couldn’t believe how cool it looked. We see a Red Ranger struggling during prehistoric times. His ship has crashed and he’s crawling. We see a Yellow Ranger as well. As her mask comes off, we see it’s an alien. The Red Ranger is then revealed to be Zordon, the legendary mentor from the original show. He was the original Red Ranger. We then see Rita Repulsa. She was the original Green Ranger. Zordon sacrifices himself and seals his ship with the five power coins. Rita is flung into the ocean because of the meteorite that kills the dinosaurs. It’s revealed that every planet has a Zeo crystal and Rita has gone rogue in an attempt to gain ultimate power. Zordon and his team were attempting to stop her, but they unfortunately failed. This scene was so cool that my only complaint is I need to see more here. The film becomes extremely slow in the second act and the film works its way up to our heroes morphing and becoming Rangers. Showing us an epic fight scene between Zordon and Rita on prehistoric Earth would have been the perfect sample so that people got an idea of what they were in for later on. Not showing a fight scene here doesn’t ruin the film, but it would have been enhanced these two characters, since they clearly have a history.

We then get introduced to our main characters. Jason is up first. We see him attempting to pull off some sort of prank with a cow. There’s a very horrible joke about a cow penis during this scene, something that only a Power Rangers film would do. Jason gets into an accident and is put on house arrest. He has to be in detention every Saturday for the rest of the school year. In detention, he meets Billy Cranston. RJ Cyler plays Billy and he does an amazing job. Billy is being picked on by the detention bully when Jason pushes the bully to the ground. We also see Kimberly here too. Kimberly’s development starts early. Her friends tell her that they’re done with her because of something she did. They cut her out of a picture of them and leave the scissors in the bathroom. Kimberly takes the scissors and cuts her hair in an attempt to become reborn. I love the detention scene because it felt natural. Billy has found a friend. This movie does a great job making him the living theme of this story. After detention, he thanks Jason for what he did and asks him to help him on a mining mission. Billy’s father is dead and they used to go exploring the mountains all the time. Billy tells Jason he can help Jason deactivate his ankle bracelet. A hilarious scene at Billy’s house happens next when Billy deactivates the bracelet. They embark on their voyage into the mountains and the real craziness happens.

In the mountains, we meet Zack and Trini. Zack lives in a trailer park near the mountains and he watches Trini come up to mountains regularly. His nickname for her is “crazy girl.” Kimberly is there too. For some reason, mainly the plot, she’s swimming in a pond in the forest near Jason. They officially meet for the first time. While all of this is going on, Billy sets off an explosive that reveals Zordon’s ship and the power coins. The only reason I didn’t like this scene is because it didn’t feel natural. They should have just put all of them in detention alone and have Billy suggest the mining mission to them. It wasn’t horrible though because their first meeting showed us how different they are. Zack is a rebel, Trini is an outcast, Kimberly is also an outcast, Jason is a wannabe, and Billy is the nerd. They get the power coins and security arrives soon after. A car chase ensues and Billy tries to cross the railroad tracks before a train does. He doesn’t succeed though and the kids are flipped down the mountain.

 

The next part of the film involves the kids discovering their powers. All of them are alive, but they don’t know how. The film wastes no time in getting them back into the mountains to see what happened. I liked this. One of the funniest scenes happened here when everyone jumped across two cliffs. Billy didn’t want to do it and he started talking to himself. Finally, when he jumps, he makes it, then falls to the bottom of the river. They find the ship and Alpha 5. Bill Hader plays Alpha 5 and he wasn’t as annoying as I thought he would be. He played his part really well. Next, they meet Zordon, who is played by Bryan Cranston. This is an interesting part of the film because Zordon didn’t mean to get stuck in the ship, also called the morphing grid. He didn’t intend for the coins to find five teenagers. This creates conflict between him and Jason, the Red Ranger. I loved them changing this from the original show. Zordon chose the kids in the show and that was it. This provides an interesting twist to the relationship between the Rangers and Zordon. This is where the film slows down a bit. The Rangers have to morph into their armor in order to defeat Rita. The only problem is they can’t morph. There’s something stopping them. They’re forced to train until they’re ready to morph.

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RITA REPULSA

As I said earlier, this is the slowest part of the film. I didn’t mind it though. Once I noticed that the Rangers weren’t going to become Rangers until the third act, I sat back and wanted to learn more about them as people. And the film didn’t disappoint. Before that though, we see Rita come back to life and start her reign of terror. She is collecting gold so she can form her monster, Goldar. Doesn’t matter if it’s from a jewelry store or some homeless man’s gold tooth, Rita needs gold. Elizabeth Banks did a good job as Rita, but like I mentioned earlier, seeing her fight Zordon would’ve enhanced her character. She is an evil witch with plans of world domination, but at some point, she wanted to protect the universe. The best villains are somewhat relatable and she was just another crazy one.

The kids struggle throughout the film. Alpha 5 shows them the Zords to give them some extra motivation during their training. Zack attempts to ride his Mastodon through the forest, but realizes he can’t control it without his suit. A physical fight happens between Zack and Jason. Zack doesn’t like Jason trying to be the leader of the group. Trini isn’t a fan of Jason either. Billy doesn’t like to see his friends fighting so he steps in, but something happens. Billy morphs! His love for his friends and their safety helped him morph. At this point, he’s the only one in the group who considers the rest friends. The others wanted to know how he did it, but he couldn’t do it again. Zordon then kicks them out for the day. Jason then  goes to talk to Zordon but overhears Zordon telling Alpha 5 that he needs them to morph so that the morphing grid can be activated so he can come back to fight Rita. He doesn’t believe in them at all. He doesn’t want them to be Rangers, he just wants to come back to life. Obviously, Jason doesn’t want to hear it. He’s furious at Zordon for not believing in them.

The next part of the movie shows the kids opening up to each other more. They decide to have a fire and camp out for a bit. Zack suggests that maybe the reason they can’t morph is because they don’t know each other. So they decide to open up. I have to shout out Ludi Lin here. He played Zack and his acting was on point during this scene. We learn that he loves his mom, but she’s extremely sick. He’s scared that she’s going to die and he’ll be all alone. Billy adds more levity to the situation by admitting he loves country music. I seriously can’t explain how good of a job RJ Cyler did in this film. It was revealed earlier in the film that Billy had autism. He told Jason. He could have told the group here, but the fact he talks about country music is hilarious. Kimberly and Jason don’t say much. Trini’s moment comes next. She’s always quiet throughout the film, but she’s always observing. She opens up to them. She talks about how she’s been the new kid on the block three years in a row. She likes it though because she doesn’t form a bond with anyone and vice versa. Zack then jokingly asks, “Guy problems?” Trini shrugs and says back, “Yeah, guy problems.” At that moment, she told them she’s gay. Zack is a bit shocked but the rest of them just sit there. A powerful moment happens next when Billy extends his hand and says that Trini is with them now. That she doesn’t have to feel alone anymore. Trini doesn’t accept the gesture saying, “Am I with you guys? Are we friends?” No one answers. It was a heavy moment and one of my favorite moments of the film. They aren’t friends yet. Far from it. When they become friends, then they’ll morph. That moment comes next and it makes this movie great. The next scene elevates this movie much higher than I thought it would it would ever go.

 

THE DEATH OF BILLY

Yes, you’re reading that right. Billy dies in this film. It starts with Rita appearing in Trini’s room at night. The fight is short but Rita warns her that Angel Grove will be decimated in the morning. Kimberly and Jason are talking during this too. She tells Jason what she really did to get in detention. She shared a nude pic of her friend to people. Jason convinces her that just because she did a bad thing, it doesn’t make her a bad person. In the trailer, they kissed during this scene, but it doesn’t happen in the movie. I liked that they didn’t kiss. It makes their relationship seem genuine and not rushed. They get Trini’s message though and collectively decide to confront Rita without their armor. Bad idea. Rita is twenty times more powerful than they are and handles them quickly. She has them tied up against the hull of a ship. She threatens to kill them unless they tell her where the Zeo crystal is. They all say they don’t know. Except Billy does. Earlier, he found the crystal by himself based on a map Alpha 5 showed him. He reveals to Rita that the crystal is underneath a Krispy Kreme donut shop. This is hilarious product placement and only something Power Rangers would do. You want to laugh at the thought of it being under a Krispy Kreme, but Rita does the unspeakable next. She releases Billy into the water. The others get him out, but are unable to save him. He’s dead. His death is symbolic of one thing. The unity of the team. They take Billy to Zordon and ask if there’s anything he can do to save their friend. Zordon says there isn’t.

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Jason blames himself for what happened to Billy. Once again, anger got the best of him, and he rushed into a situation. He says that Billy wanted to be a Ranger more than any of them. The idea of being a superhero made him feel alive. He says that Billy didn’t deserve it. The rest of them agree. Jason says that he’d gladly trade his life for Billy’s. The others say the same. Dacre Montgomery’s acting here was top notch.

The morphing grid on the ship activates, the Rangers are ready to morph. Alpha 5 shouts to Zordon that this is his chance to come back. He continues to yell and Zordon disappears from his spot on the wall. After about a full minute, Zordon reappears on the wall. Alpha asks what happened and Zordon replies that, “Only one could come back.” The camera pans back to Billy and he wakes up, coughing up water. Zordon sacrificed himself to bring Billy back. Billy wakes up and he’s greeted by a joyful Zack, Trini, and Kimberly. Jason is in tears. He looks at Zordon and says, “Thank you.” Earlier in the film, when Billy deactivated Jason’s ankle bracelet, Jason hugged Billy. Billy didn’t respond well to it. He was confused why someone was touching him. After he’s brought back to life, the first thing Billy does is embrace his best friend, Jason. An absolutely beautiful moment. They step up on the platforms and are able to morph into the Power Rangers! The shot of them walking in their suits for the first time will forever be engrained in my brain. The music during this scene was fantastic as well. I couldn’t sit still in my seat.

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The movie’s pace picks up tremendously and doesn’t stop. The Rangers take on Rita’s putties. I wanted this scene to go on for a bit longer, but it was nice to see them fight. I wanted some hand to hand combat with Rita, but she built Goldar and headed for the city. They get in their zords and head for the city. While they’re running, the original theme song from the television show plays. I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was perfect timing and the cast is screaming jubilantly as they ride in their zords. A perfect moment. Most of the third act was spent in their zords. I didn’t mind that at all. All the zords were cool to watch. Zack’s zord was completely unrecognizable. In the original show, it’s a Mastodon. It’s supposedly the same thing, but it’s hard to tell. The coolest zord to me was Kimberly’s. Hers is the only one that can fly. Jason gets out at one point to save his father which was a cool scene. Goldar finds the Zeo crystal and gets extremely close to it. The Rangers manage to get in front of him and intend to hold the line. There isn’t much they can do. They realize they are probably going to die. Billy thanks them for being his friends. The rest of them come to terms with their deaths too. Just as they’re about to get crushed, their zords combine to make the Megazord we all love from the show. I liked the look of the Megazord. They must work together to move the zord which continues the theme of friendship and teamwork. Eventually, they defeat Goldar and Rita. Jason slaps Rita out of the atmosphere. It was pretty funny and once again, only something Power Rangers could get away with.

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The movie ends with things looking up for the team. The town loves their new heroes. They are real life superheroes. Jason returns Rita’s spear to Zordon. They still have detention with each other on Saturday, but now they enjoy themselves a lot more now that they’re friends. I love the song that was playing during this. It really helped tie everything together as the movie turns to black and the end credits roll.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I said multiple times that the two things I needed from this film was fun and friendship. Not only did I want to have fun, I wanted the cast to look like they were having fun. Check. The theme of friendship came alive in Billy. Once again, I have to commend RJ Cyler for his acting ability. Billy represented the kid in all of us. He represented older Ranger fans who have dreamed for years of becoming Power Rangers. Making him the link that helped the team come together was a genius move. I liked the direction they went with his autism too. Autism doesn’t make a person inferior. People with autism are some of the brightest, loving people this universe has produced. Billy is no exception. This film hit the stigma of autism head on and showed us a character who just wanted friends. Once he got them, he was willing to die for them and was grateful they accepted him for who he is. That goes for all of the Rangers. They all had their flaws, but were able to accept themselves and each other. Trini took the longest to open up, but once she realized she was amongst friends, she let her secret out. Jason learned to control his anger. Kimberly realized she isn’t a bad person. And Zack found something worth fighting for again. All of their struggles are real, and different. This is the definition of diversity. The fact they all look different is just a plus. Diversity of color AND thought, and no I’m not talking about idiotic politics, is what makes a film come alive. There were a couple of racial jokes in the film, but nothing insensitive. This film didn’t make it about their skin color, but rather their personalities. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. This was a near flawless film when it comes to diversity.

Where the film could improved is the first act. My biggest complaint is not seeing Rita and Zordon fight it to the death at the beginning of the film. Throughout, there is references towards their relationship. Jason tells Rita that they’re going to take her to Zordon so that he can judge her. She’s offended by the notion. Did Zordon cause her betrayal? Did he push her over the edge? There’s so many questions there that could have been answered with a longer fight scene. Other than that, I don’t have many negatives with the film. The Rangers first meeting felt a bit rushed. I understand that some people are going to hate this film because of how slow it is, but this was never supposed to be an action film. This film was about accepting yourself for who you are. It was also about friendship and the value of friendship. These five teenagers didn’t know the value until Billy was killed. They probably thought they deserved to die, but everyone in the group knew that Billy didn’t deserve it. That hit them hard. It made them want him back more than anything. When they said they would give their lives for his, the morphing grid opened up because not only had they become friends, they had become a family. That’s the main reason I love Power Rangers. I’m excited for the future of this franchise. I’m giving this film a solid 9/10 but the inner child in me gives it a 1000/10.

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Did you like this film? If not, I would love to know why. Remember to follow and tweet me @Hero_Review if you have any thoughts or any ideas on a future review I should do. Until next time!

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