I have very mixed feelings….Potential spoilers ahead!
Now, I don’t want to take a giant dump on this movie, because it wasn’t awful, but there might be a fair bit of dumping. As an overall impression, it wasn’t a horrible action movie. There have been worse (lookin’ at you BvS), and most of my complaints revolve around poor story-telling.
So first, the good! This movie was absolutely beautiful. There were quite a few creatively shot scenes including a 360 pan from inside of a moving truck which was impressively done. And, the graphics were gorgeous. The water scene that you get a sneak peek of in the trailer is truly awesome and sets the mood for the alien technologies to come. Which reminds me, the sets were well done too! The new Ranger Command Center ditches the cheap looking aesthetic of the original series and gets a sleek, otherworldly make-over. The new ship turns the Morphing Grid into a vibrant gaseous cloud and Zordon into a literal part of the ship. And the suits….guys, the suits were MORPHENOMENAL! (that’s right, I just did that).
The action scenes in the new Rangers movie are good……not groundbreaking by any means. It was very standard action-movie fare. It didn’t have any of the over-the-top martial arts that the original series loved to display and much to the chagrin of 6-year-old Bonita, the new Rangers didn’t yell “Kiai!” with every punch. Adult Bonita is happy they left that out. Because this is an origin story, there is a lot less combat than I had hoped for. There are a few minutes of training montage against simulated Putties, one very short fight with Putties in the mountains, and then the final battle, Zords vs Goldar.
Here is where I get hyper critical, folks. I’ve talked to plenty of people who loved this movie. But I couldn’t. It was impossible for me to see past certain glaring plot inconsistencies and the change of who the character’s were at their core.
The biggest issue I had with this movie was that the Rangers were delinquents. That may be a strong term, but most of them were shitty, angsty teens and it ruined every single thing that I had idolized about the original characters. In the 90’s series, Jason, Kimberly, Trini, Zach and Billy were upstanding citizens of Angel Grove. They were heroes in their own rights without their power coins and zords. They were teenagers that people looked up to. And I wanted to be that. To young Bonita, these were shining examples of how a person could be accepted AND a good person. You didn’t have to succumb to peer pressure or treat others badly to be one of the cool kids. It made being a good person appealing. The teenagers were who I aspired to grow up to be.
These new Rangers, though, were the exact opposite. Each of them had some sort of generic “rough” life. Jason was the star of the Football team and he gets Saturday detention for life after pulling a prank – I swear to God, the writers literally just pulled certain scenes straight from The Breakfast Club (without any of the deep emotions) and hoped that kids these days were too young to know any better. I’m not kidding. Jason’s dad brings him to detention in his truck, lecturing him about how doing something stupid like this has just jeopardized his entire sport-dependent future and he had better shape up. Sound familiar?! And Billy is in detention because one of his experiments blew up in his locker. Extremely similarly to how Micheal Anthony Hall has a flare gun go off accidentally in his locker, landing him in Saturday detentions. Guys, I’m not making this up.
Now, I don’t mind if the new Rangers have some deeper back story. I truly loved the addition of Billy’s Autism. It provided a nice way for him to be genuinely different from the rest of the team. And RJ Cyler 100% steals the show. He gives a great performance and I’d watch that kid do anything. Zach’s mother being ill and the compassion he showed in caring for her, that gave me some feels. But the others just felt so terribly generic or forced. Trini especially. I do appreciate the addition of a homosexual Ranger. The Power Rangers franchise has always been very welcoming of diversity. But her terrible attitude made me hate her. She mentions vaguely that her family is “too normal” – they don’t approve of how she dresses or her relationships – at which time it is implied that she is gay. But from the brief scene of her home life, her parents seem to be trying their hardest to break through the walls that she put up around herself. I do get that it’s difficult for teens dealing with their sexuality to have that discussion with their parents, but it just felt so out of place in her story. Perhaps her family was supposed to come across as less accepting than I perceived? But it made it hard for me to really feel any sympathy for her sullen character.
Beyond the complete destruction of everything that made the Power Rangers my heroes in the first place, this movie had some pretty serious plot holes. Firstly, if Rita is a fallen Ranger from Zordon’s team, why are there only 5 places on his Ranger Team’s ship? Wouldn’t she have had a place? And where is her Zord? And why does she have none of the same powers as the rest of the Rangers? And where did she get her ability to eat/manipulate gold? Or come back to life from the depths of the sea when Zordon could only survive as meta data on the ship? Or any of the other things?!?!?! The story says that she was a member of the Power Rangers who got greedy……..yet she still has all of 90’s series’ Rita Repulsa’s sorceress abilities. WHY?! That makes zero sense.
Oh! Then there’s the whole bit where the Rangers become expert martial artists in less than 10 days. Really? 10 days? Even with their new super-strength (which I was also not a huge fan of, but I’ll let that slide) and all of Alpha 5’s expert tutelage, 10 days to be pros? Come. On. That was just ridiculous.
And the Morphing Grid can now bring people back to life? But just one person and only the one time? Hmm….sounds like a pretty serious Deus Ex Machina if you ask me. Then there’s the whole Rita letting the Rangers go. Her character has mercilessly killed a ton of people in Angel Grove for gold, but she’ll let her biggest threats walk free – even specifically divulge her master plan – after she’s got them right where she wants them. Even more Deus Ex Machina.
Listen, at it’s heart, the message of this movie is still representative of part of what the Power Rangers stand for: Unity and team work, but it is very much written with a younger, tween-aged target audience in mind. Don’t overthink it and you’ll probably enjoy it. But if you’re like me and, no matter what you’re watching, you always notice plot holes and lazy writing, you’re gonna have some issues. While I wouldn’t recommend everyone go out and see it immediately, I certainly wouldn’t say to avoid it.
What did you think? Were you a Power Ranger fan growing up? Let us know in the comments below!