If you grew up in the late 80’s to mid 90’s like me then you remember the various phenomenons that swept kid nation. From Pokèmon to Digimon, from Barbie to Barney, every kid went through their phases in front of the t.v., at the supermarket and school, and with friends in the form of shows, cards, and dolls/action figures. One trend among boys that stood out above all others were the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers who took t.v., movies, and the toy industry by a storm. Now–twenty some years later, Power Rangers has attempted to make its grand comeback, introducing thousands of young fans to its sweeping absorptive addictive nature and reintroducing old fans to the nostalgia they’ve desired for so long. Let’s break it down.
First it’s important to establish that this is an origin story so most of the film deals with exposition–bringing the team together by first giving us a glimpse into their lives before they discover the power coins. This takes up a lot of the the film’s 124 minutes but is expected and acceptable for the first of a reboot that promises sequels. That being said the movie plays out a lot like a high school teen flick with a lot of the drama and stereotypical characters associated with that type of genre such as the bully,the preppy and maleficent teen girl clique and the disruptive football jocks. As expected from this type of teen angst sub-genre a lot of familiar themes surround the principle events of the film such as disappointed parents, high school pranks, and jealous girlfriends yet such is the life of a teenager so it’s bearable.
Overall the chemistry among the characters is very good. Each team member contributes to the whole in a unique and satisfying way. There’s no hierarchy established but rather a separate but equal team that learns to overcome their differences and personal demons to unite as the Power Rangers. There’s quite a bit of philosophical truth present in the movie that all too often gets masked by humor but the writers did a good job at epitomizing the American teenager who feels abandoned, misunderstood, and forsaken yet finds hope and redemption through companionship. The only way that type of characterization can be achieved is through good chemistry and this film has it.
As previously stated, it’s quite awhile before you see the Power Rangers in full gear and ready to go. A lot of time is taken on character development which is needed and not necessarily a problem since it keeps moving and keeps the audience engaged.Once the Power Rangers are well–the Power Rangers the movie is about fifteen minutes from being over and they have just enough time to jump into some over the top combat, and rapidly escalating battle sequences that move along quicker than a kid washing the dishes before his mom gets home in 5 minutes. The action, however brief, is satisfying for a B-movie popcorn adventure ride.
While it’s hard to call this a con given its source material, Power Rangers is pretty campy. Everything is over the top especially the villain Rita and her giant monster made of gold named (surprise) Goldar. Of course nothing beats the cheesiness of the originals so perhaps the director was trying to bring some nostalgia through the exaggerated characters and sequences. It’s very hard to take this movie seriously which dampens the effects of the more dramatic moments. Pacing suffers sometimes as well–the dialogue gets trapped in mini-whirlpools of thought where you begin to think, “Ok we get it already”. The humor is hit and miss. Some is pretty darn funny, other parts are eye-roll worthy but such is the nature of humor. Really you have to know what you’re getting into going in and that it’s a kid/pre-teen film and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
Kind of strange how no one is talking about this considering how much attention Beauty and the Beast got for exhibiting its first gay character in Lefou, but Saban’s Power Rangers also features a lesbian character. Trini Kwan, the yellow Ranger, is a lesbian as discovered during a conversation around a campfire with the rest of the team. In order for the characters to bond together as a unit, Zack Taylor, the Black Ranger, comes up with the idea of everyone sharing a secret or an insecurity with the rest of the group. When it’s Becky’s turn she talks about the struggles of being the new girl and dealing with parents who don’t understand her problems, the way she dresses, and her relationships. This catches Zack’s attention as he says, “Boyfriend troubles?” She gives him a look that he understands and says, “Oh, girlfriend problems”. This obviously implies that Trini is a lesbian which deviates from the original nature of the character. I’m not entirely why it’s being overlooked considering all of the flack Disney got but it’s something to be aware of as a trending force that’s on the rise in film.
If you go into Power Rangers knowing what to expect other than rambunctious kids kicking the back of your chair you should have a good time. Campy and exaggerated? Absolutely. Thought provoking? Not really. But its not half bad as far as origin films go and fans of the Rangers should be pleased with the revival and the sequels that are sure to follow.