POWER RANGERS Reviews Are Decidedly Mixed; "Refuses To Fully Embrace The Mystique Of The Power Rangers"
Twenty-four years after their television debut, the (Mighty Morphin) Power Rangers are back in a brand new feature film that promises to reimagine some of your fondest childhood memories and create something for a whole new generation of fans. But, is the new movie worth your time?
The first batch of reviews for Power Rangers are in and they're fairly mixed, to say the least. There's plenty of fun to be had, especially with Rita Repulsa, but as a whole, it seems to fall just short.
The first set of critic's reviews for the Dean Israelite-directed reboot landed online earlier this afternoon and they are a fairly even split of good and bad with most criticism being levied toward the first two more serious acts, rather than at the action-packed, CGI-heavy, finale, which actually seems to have gone over quite well with practically everyone.
The reviews are leaning positive for the most part, but the main concern seems to be that the movie isn't quite sure what it wants to be or who its target audience is as it caters at different points to more mature fans, younger fans, and longtime fans of the original '90s series. It also seems to excel when it chooses to accept its campy origins rather than forge its own unique path. The finale, as mentioned above, is the biggest highlight as the film takes a major tonal shift, heads into daylight, and brings out the Dinozords for an epic battle with Goldar.
Elizabeth Banks is the clear standout amongst the cast, fully embracing the sheer ridiculousness of her evil villainess Rita Repulsa, and many reviews note that her performance may be worth the price of admission alone. Out of the Rangers, it's RJ Cyler, who shines brightest, bringing an extra sense of depth to his portrayal of Billy, the Blue Ranger. Naomi Scott, who plays Kimberly, the Pink Ranger, also receives special mention. As for Bryan Cranston & Bill Hader, their on-screen chemistry as Zordon & Alpha 5, respectively, sounds to be on-point and it also looks like the character development and the core team dynamic between the five Rangers has been handled quite well, leading to a few touching moments scattered throughout the picture, including the movie's final frame.
Additionally, there is a mid-credits scene that you definitely don't want to miss and if this film earns a sequel, should lead to a much bigger and better second chapter.
Check out excerpts from a number of reviews below:
For longtime fans, the newest installment preserves some of the most beloved characteristics of the original franchise, updated to reflect technological advances. The Rangers’ color-coded power suits now benefit from nanoparticle properties and the robotic mecha assault vehicles known as Zords that they pilot take on enhanced battle capabilities, while Rita’s menacing sidekicks the Putties and the gigantic warrior Goldar get more polished, fluid CGI representations. (And yes, the “Go Go Power Rangers” theme song makes a triumphant return.)
This quintet of actors is so empathetic and engaging that they more than hold up the John Hughes end of the movie. And if you’re not seeing this for the acting, then at least you get five brightly-clad heroes driving dinosaur-shaped spaceships that eventually meld into one giant, sword-wielding robot. If that’s what you paid to see, then “Power Rangers” delivers it, dollars to donuts.
Yet it’s all franchise window dressing. It can’t disguise the reality that the characters in “Power Rangers” have all the depth and idiosyncrasy of walking talking robo-teen action figures. The irony is that 25 years ago, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” was launched as superhero diversion “for kids,” and there was a place for it, but we’re so awash in superhero culture that kids no longer need the safe, lame, pandering junior-league version of it. They can just watch “Ant-Man” or the PG-13 “Suicide Squad.” Safe, lame, and pandering have all grown up.
The film is a blast during the few brief moments when it embraces the cartoon craziness that’s made the television show into such a cultural fixture, but it sheepishly backs away from every one of these giddy indulgences as if it’s afraid of getting caught with a hand in the cookie jar; why play the series’ unforgettable theme song (“Go Go, Power Rangers!”) if you’re going to cut it off after just a few bars? If only “Power Rangers” had the courage to put down its mask and work with its audience. It may not be possible to cram a ton of crayons in a butt, but that doesn’t mean we should settle for anonymous photocopies, instead. Grade: C-
But the film’s most blatant camp comes from Banks’ colourfully arch performance as the mighty sorceress Rita Repulsa, a former Power Ranger who wants the crystal for herself. Sarcastic and haughty, Rita walks through the film as if she knows that Power Rangers is third-rate Hollywood product, deciding that she might as well have a little fun. Good triumphs over evil on screen, but for the audience, her villain is the clear victor against her overmatched, inexperienced co-stars.
As someone with no strong feelings for the Power Rangers franchise (I hated it as a kid and came to appreciate its charms as a parent), this is an interesting attempt to craft a grounded and character-driven adaptation, one that successfully blends genre with larger-than-life superhero spectacle. And if you might find it absurd to have a somber and violent Power Rangers movie, then we should note that it can coexist with the 800-plus episodes of the more kid-friendly televised variation. At its best, Power Rangers is a throwback to the likes of Masters of the Universe and the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. It’s from a time when getting a darker, more serious big-budget feature based on your favorite kid-friendly property, one that felt like a real film, was a rare and splendid thing.
There’s an admirable commitment to absurdity, yet it belies the thoughtful coming-of-age journey for the five teens up until they hit “morphin time." The first half boasts a realism reminiscent of Chronicle in how youngsters deal with the responsibility of having nascent superpowers, and John Gatins’ screenplay creates surprisingly touching relationships between the kids. There’s even a discrepancy in color palette — with the initially dark and muted tones moving to a rainbow of vibrancy as the film turns toward the silly — but the film lacks a certain confidence by not taking either tack.
Power Rangers is a series of bad decisions broken up with decent moments of adorable interactions between the Rangers and Banks’ Repulsa, but those moments are few and far in-between. Power Rangers had the chance to save itself from becoming the mess that it is, but Israelite needed to take the movie in a single, specific direction. It could have been a dumb, ridiculous movie in the same vein as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers or an origin story like Iron Man, but it ends up being none of those things.
The only Ranger who makes much of an impression is RJ Cyler as Billy. Cyler, first seen in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, lends a much-needed twitchy energy to the po-faced profundity and will probably be the one actor to escape this franchise unscathed. It’s never a good sign when your movie’s best performance belongs to a guy voicing a floating CGI head. This is yet another conspicuous movie cameo from Bryan Cranston, after his 10 minutes of screen time in the last Godzilla film. He pops up long enough to imbue the picture with some class, and then he vanishes. At this rate, he’ll be the new Michael Caine — making this Cranston’s version of Beyond the Poseidon Adventure.
There’s a lot to enjoy in Power Rangers. The young kids cast are fun and adhere to the original camp but give it a Hollywood glamor feel. The adults are all stunning. Bill Hader as Alpha 5 steals nearly every scene he’s in. But, the overall final product is another Transformers, adequate but not stunning.
But once you get past all that the kids finally put on the costumes and jump into action. At this point, the audience I saw the film with cheered, because the movie has finally delivered on its promise. It’s the Power Rangers! Zords! Rita! Goldar! Fighting! But something is off... literally. The kids don’t wear their iconic masks, so we can see their faces almost the whole time. Even in this huge, ludicrous action scene, the film refuses to fully embrace the mystique of the Power Rangers.
If you enjoy superhero films at all, this is a must watch. Even if you didn’t watch Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Saban’s Power Rangers is a hilarious film. I see myself watching this several times over the next few months.
Power Rangers is probably not going to go down as the most beloved superhero movie of 2017, but it's still a good origin story that sets up a potentially even better franchise. It doesn't matter if you're a longtime fan or a complete newcomer; it's morphin time.
For what it is, POWER RANGERS is fine, with PROJECT ALMANAC’s Dean Israelite having made a good-looking film, although it’s clear the budget was saved for the big-finale, with much of the film being devoted to endless training montages. A friend described it best when he said it felt like a $100 million CW pilot, but kids and young teens will likely get a kick out of it. It’s not especially mind-numbing, although it doesn’t really have enough substance to sustain a major franchise, unless they really scrap the old TV show mythology and tell their own story. Rating: 6 out of 10
Power Rangers likely won’t do much for those who never liked the property in the first place. But for those who grew up with it, or found it through the many different incarnations throughout the years, it provides the kind of passionate, loving reboot that we very rarely see from the studio system nowadays - one that goes deeper into its mythology without ever losing the camp element that made it so much fun in the first place. Rating: 7 out of 10
So, what do you guys think? Sound off with your thoughts below!
Saban's Power Rangers follows five ordinary high school kids who must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove – and the world – is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover that they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so they will have to overcome their real-life issues and band together as the Power Rangers before it is too late.
Power Rangers features:
Director: Dean Israelite
Dacre Montgomery as Jason Lee Scott, the Red Ranger
Naomi Scott as Kimberly Hart, the Pink Ranger
Ludi Lin as Zack Taylor, the Black Ranger
RJ Cyler as Billy Cranston, the Blue Ranger
Becky Gomez as Trini Kwan, the Yellow Ranger
Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa
Bryan Cranston as Zordon
Bill Hader as Alpha 5
David Denman as Sam Scott
Anjali Jay as Maddy Hart
Emily Maddison as Rebecca
Patrick Sabongui as Mr. Kwan
Lisa Berry as Candace Cranston
Caroline Cave as Beverly Scott
Kayden Magnuson as Pearl Scott
Sarah Grey as Amanda
The Power Rangers say it's morphin' time once again March 24
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