Review: POWER RANGERS (2017) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Review: POWER RANGERS (2017)

Review: POWER RANGERS (2017)

Based on the popular '90s children's TV series of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the big screen reboot of POWER RANGERS tells a group of high-school teenagers -- Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery), Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), Kimberly Hart (Naomi Scott), Zack Taylor (Ludi Lin) and Trini Kwan (Becky G) -- from the small town of Angel Grove, who all unexpectedly gain superpowers after discovered a set of buried Power Coins and a spaceship. Soon, they are chosen as Power Rangers -- a team of superheroes band together to save the world from an alien threat led by Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks).

REVIEW: Since Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was first introduced as a TV series in 1993, the colour-coded superheroes have lasted for 20+ years and still counting with various series incarnations ranging from Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers to the current Power Rangers Ninja Steel. However, unlike the long-running Power Rangers series, there has been only two big screen versions existed during the late 1990s including MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE (1995) and TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE (1997).

Now, fast-forward to 2017, the Power Rangers franchise has finally made a cinematic comeback with a self-titled reboot that follows the pattern of today's origin superhero movie (read: dark, gritty and sombre). Personally, I have no problem with a famous property wanted to keep up with the time as long as it doesn't deviate too far from what we used to know.

Thankfully, director Dean Israelite (PROJECT ALMANAC) and screenwriter John Gatins (REAL STEEL) manages to balance the movie with an origin story that is both grounded and relatable, while offering what fans really want from a true POWER RANGERS movie. The origin story may have been clich├ęd with all the standard-issue teenage angst and whatnot. But surprisingly, the story is decently told while Gatins even able to slip in a few amusing in-jokes and gags that referenced popular Hollywood blockbusters from DIE HARD and TRANSFORMERS. If that's not enough, he also had a field day making fun of a product placement (in this case, Krispy Kreme) during the climactic finale.

Review: POWER RANGERS (2017)

The performances from most of the fresh-faced teen actors are both appealing and adequate enough. Of all the five teenagers here, it was Dacre Montgomery and RJ Cyler made the most lasting impressions as the leader of the group Jason Scott and geeky Billy Cranston. By the way, in case you're wondering about all the so-called controversial fuss surrounding the "first gay superhero", Becky G.'s turn as a sexually confused Trini is nothing more than a brief verbal confession during a campfire scene.

As for the adult roles, Bryan Cranston made good use of his limited screen appearance (limited, as in appearing mostly with a mere facial outlook on a pop-up holographic wall) as Power Rangers' mentor, Zordon. Bill Hader, who voiced the role of Zordon's robotic assistant Alpha 5, provides a decent comic relief while Elizabeth Banks is amusingly over-the-top as the evil Rita Repulsa.

While POWER RANGERS could have benefited with a trimmed-down setup (yes, the 90 minutes' worth of origin story tends to feel weary and overlong at times), the movie does end up with a fairly satisfying payoff. Once the five teenagers finally morphed into the colour-coded Power Rangers and begin to save the world (Angel Grove, to be exact), the action retains most of the campy fun and martial arts excitement you've seen as a kid back in the '90s. The movie also had a well-timed inclusion of the familiar "Go, go, Power Rangers!" theme song during the action-packed finale. Despite this is Israelite's first blockbuster-sized filmmaking, he proves to be a competent visual stylist who is capable to handle both small-scale (the earlier scene involving a nighttime car chase shot entirely in the interior with an unbroken, 360-degree camera angle) and large-scale (the climactic finale set in the middle of Angel Grove town) set-pieces.

Although the big screen reboot of POWER RANGERS offers nothing new in terms of an origin superhero movie, it still manages to bring an effective mix of grit and nostalgic fun for both fans and general audiences.

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