Sunday, March 26, 2017

Some thoughts about Power Rangers

The only hope of the world rests in the shoulders of 5 teenagers.

Zordon almost lost the battle against Rita Repulsa millions of years ago and now that she's back, he will need to find the perfect replacements for his old team despite that they might not be ready.

Here is it people, the reboot that has been worrying so many fans over the last few years.

Why was it so worrying? Well, people who are familiar with the franchise of Power Rangers, as myself, know that this is a silly series at its core, is even sillier than most superhero comics and shows from the 60's and 70's. It presented a group of "teenagers with attitude" that didn't have much personality beyond being the good guys, I mean, they had their own archetypes like the leader, the nerd, the cool guy/girl but they never presented much depth and they had to fight villains and monsters that believe it or not, were even more ridiculous than the protagonists. This along the battles and overall acting made the show pretty campy but it was also pretty popular for kids.

For that reason, a more serious reboot was not a bad idea per se since it would mean that they could put the franchise in a more mature route to attract a new generation. THE PROBLEM is that we have seen this happen before like in Transformers and the like where the "grim and gritty" version at times tends to be more simplistic and even more immature than the original show that was created for children so a few concerns were understandably raised. Directed by Dean Israelite, does this movie follow similar failed attempts?

Thankfully it doesn't, in fact I'm actually surprised that it was much better than I anticipated.

I'm happy to say that people's concerns about this being yet another Michael Bay's Transformers can disappear since it definitely isn't, there is not forced "humour" trying too hard to be funny, gross and/or offensive (aside from an admitedly dumb cow joke at the beginning). However, that's not the only thing that differentiate it from Bay's work since this film has AN ACTUAL PLOT.

Yes, we all know the premise of young people chosen to save the world but the best part here is that how all them come together as a team and ultimately friends. In the original show they all were instantly together and really knew how to work as a group in that regard. Here on the other hand, we have to see how they grow as characters, what are they backgrounds and how they connect with one another. The story is the classic tale of the Power Rangers Vs. Rita Repulsa but is told so effectively that you don't even care that is so simple.

That's mostly because of the characters. Jason, the Red Ranger (portrayed by Dacre Montgomery) is a guy who likes to make jokes (the aforementioned cow moment was his idea) but he's also really kind-hearted and doesn't doubt to help others when they need him which makes him a nice update to the original version. Billy, the Blue Ranger (depicted by RJ Cyler) is an autistic kid that is constantly bullied in school and learns how to deal with his problems thanks to his new skills and friends which is a solid reinterpretation of the first Billy, he's probably one of the best characters in the film since his condition is played very respectfully and actually adds to his personality which can also be pretty funny and touching at times. Kimberly, the Pink Ranger (by Naomi Scott) is yet another nice update due that she's still a cool girl but this time a bit more complexity is added to her archetype. Zack, the Black Ranger (Ludi Lin) is probably another favorite of mine here, he encapsulates the impulsive nature of the original perfectly but making him much more extreme and enjoyable but he also demonstrates some really emotional moments due to his background. Finally, Trini, the Yellow Ranger (Becky G) is a character who doesn't get close to anyone due to how she was raised and also because of her sexuality which makes her the first Gay character in the franchise (which is something I think it could have been handled more profoundly since I think she was the least interesting character overall).

All of the actors do a good job in their performances but the best part is their interactions. They have a lot of chemistry with one another, you get immediately invested in their relationship, how they become more and more attached to each other by training and also by confessing their biggest secrets which creates a quite strong bond between them which makes you buy they have become friends towards the end.

Really, the best part of the whole movie is the character work. I honestly wouldn't mind if there was very little action due that the development of the cast is quite engaging and makes you really interested in their future and success but of course, this is a Power Rangers flick and needs the classic elements to satisfy fans.

Zordon has been given a much richer backstory that reveals that he was actually the first Red Ranger, Bryan Cranston does a great work for this role which is unsurprising for fans like myself. Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa is pure evil cheesiness but you can clearly notice that the actress is having a good time and to be honest, I don't think there's any other way to play Rita than making her as over the top as possible which is still quite enjoyable.

You might call me crazy but I actually consider the classic Power Rangers scenes the weakest aspect of the film. The action goes for a bit too long at times, particularly the fight with the individual Zords, but once that they become the Megazord things become a bit more entertaining which concludes in a satisfying way.

Aside from that, I don't see many problems with film itself. There's admitedly a pretty blunt product placement of Krispy Kreme during the big fight but I honestly considered it hilarious. This was the final fight for the fate of the world and they had to go to Krispy Kreme to save humanity, the name of the brand is pretty funny by itself so they constantly referencing it was entertaining for me and Rita eating a donut during the battle was the icing on the cake (or donut, whatever).

I actually had more problem when they played the PR theme once that they started driving the Zords, it felt pretty out of place considering the theme of the movie.

And there's cameos as well. Jason David Frank, the original Green Ranger and Amy Jo Johnson, the original Pink Ranger make an appearance as citizens and as an easter egg, Jason's dad actually looks like Austin St. John who portrayed Jason in the original show (which I don't know if it was made on purpose).

The special effects get the job done and the fights are well-choreographed. Not a lot of complaints there.

Overall, this exceeded my expectations. Mind you, my expectations were pretty low but this was legitimately enjoyable, wasn't expecting a serious reboot of the franchise to be taken in an actual serious manner but they did and it was successful for the most part. This makes me excited for future installments with this kind of tone, there's room for improvement but so far they're on the right path.

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