One from the to watch pile…
Power Rangers (2017)
Film: I was probably too old to enjoy the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers when it first hit TV in Australia in the early 90s, but I enjoyed it anyway. I’ve always liked superheroes that wear a common uniform, like the Fantastic Four or the original X-men, so ‘sentai’ shows definitely appealed.
(Sentai is a Japanese term for a military unit, like Squad or Task Force, but is commonly used to describe Japanese superhero Tv shows when a super team is involved. My favourite Star Wars toys were always the rank and file soldiers too.)
Anyway, when this movie was announced, I decided I needed to rewatch, and what 20 years adds to the human mind is the capacity to see that in MMPR, the originals’ weren’t ‘teens with attitude’ like the opening titles would suggest, but instead were douchebags with superpowers who actually bullied two mildly retarded kids, Bulk and Skull, in between fighting an array of ridiculous beasts thrown at them by the amusingly named Rita Repulsa.
I only watched this first series and didn’t continue on though I understand from friends who are younger than me that this show in all its forms was greatly influential on them, as they were of the age to have all the toys and stuff, and so nostalgia bit them hard. Conceptually I love the idea of all the various series’s that were made, even though I didn’t watch them.
So here we are, and I’ve just finished watching the new Power Rangers movie, and quite liked it.
Power Rangers starts with a battle on earth millions of years ago between Zordon (Brian Cranston) and Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) which ends with Zordon having to sacrifice himself to beat her.
We then flash forward to now, where all-star high school football player Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) is put on detention for tomfoolery in a cow which resulted in police involvement, and in detention he meets slightly autistic Billy (RJ Cyler) whom he defends against a bully and the two become u easy allies… especially after Jason learns that in return for a favour, Billy can disable his police tracker ankle band.
That night the pair go to a mining facility in their town where Billy blows up a part of a cliff face as he believes his father, who died there, knew there was something in the rock. The explosion brings the attention of fellow detention inhabitant, Kimberly (Naomi Scott), school dodging Zach (Ludi Lin) and outsider Trini (Becky G).
Behind the cliff they find a wall made of crystal with weird coloured coins inside. They each take a coin and the next day find they are now recipients of superpowers. The three meet up back at the mine to try and find out what happened, but what they find is a buried space ship maintained by an annoying robot, Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) and the spirit of the aforementioned Zordon.
Zordon tells them they are now the Power Rangers, and that their powers are a gift to help them defeat Rita as her return is predestined, but will the teens be able to learn how to ‘morph’, which so they can fully realise their true, full powers and defeat her?
It’s great how this film takes the essence of the TV show and distilled it into a proper science fiction film which shakes all the established norms, like the appearance of the kids (no more race-based Ranger colours), and Kimberly’s bullies are now two female characters straight out of Mean Girls. There’s other throwbacks like the appearance of the Zords is straight out of the TV show, with that profiled attack formation, and keep your eyes out for some of the originals popping up here and there.
I think what really makes this film is the teens take it in full seriousness and that makes the film feel real, but it balances off perfectly with Banks’ preposterously overblown badguy performance. That’s not to say the teens don’t have fun with it as there are several occasions where the ‘normal’ antagonists (Kimberly’s bullies and the redhead kid who terrorises Billy) get various come-uppances, but in general their plight is played completely straight, and I guess that will play better with teenaged viewers as all those teenaged problems feel completely real when you are that age.
As far as the story is concerned, it’s a pretty solid origin story delivered well, and most of the special effects are good, though the close-ups of Goldar, one of Rita’s minions, and his ever moving, flowing gold body are average at best.
Typically I can’t not mention the soundtrack. There is a cool mix of re-done songs from the 90s, an awesome synth score and a new version of the ‘Go Go Power Rangers’ song.
Krispy Kreme have obviously put their hands up for a bit of promotional claptrappery and product placement as there is one sequence where I believe the phrase ‘Krispy Kreme’ is thrown about by every lead character within about 5 minutes of each other.
If I am to have any real criticism of this film, it’s the two female leads looked a little similar. Not that you get them mixed up, but perhaps a visual cue to separate them a little more could have been beneficial.
This film combines all the angst and teenage pain of alienation and the things people expect of you (like a John Hughes movie might display) and mixes it with a familiar, and yet somewhat unfamiliar science fiction environment, and together they form an entertaining, though occasionally whiny film that’s a load of fun.
Format: The film was reviewed with the Australian region B bluray which runs for approximately 123 minutes and is presented in a beautiful 2.40:1 image which is absolutely one of the finest images I’ve seen on bluray. The sound is presented in Dolby Atmos which through my 5.1 seemed to drop out Zordon’s voice occasionally, so I am not sure whether my equipment couldn’t handle the audio file accurately or if the file had an issue.
Extras: There’s a decent mount if extras on this disc:
An audio commentary by director Dean Israelite and writer John Gatins which is an thorough and interesting commentary though a lot of stuff from the ‘Making of’ extras are repeated here.
The Power of the Present is a dissection of the history of the Rangers and how this film was made, and features great interviews with all involved, cast, crew and even the producers of the original programme! It’s really interesting and well worth the time. It’s actually a bunch of approximately 15 minute shorts that can be watched as a whole making of piece.
There are some deleted and extended scenes and as usual, they didn’t need to be there and their removal makes sense for the flow of the movie.
Outtakes are amusing I’m sure as recollection for the cast, but in this case aren’t very entertaining at all.
There is also the trailer, with the capacity to watch it with a commentary, which is something cool and unusual.
WISIA: Oh, I’ll watch this again and again!