On August 28, 1993, Fox Kids debuted the Mighty Morphin Power Ranger series that was adopted from the Japanese TV series, Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger. As a matter of fact, the show is still running today, as well as forever integrated into most childhood memories and pop culture. The “reboot” first grew legs back in 2014, but in 2015, there was a “unauthorized” short film that was published by director Joseph Kahn. In a world where comic book movies are progressively becoming more adult, we seemed to wonder if there was room for five teens that came together to fight monsters who would be taken seriously in our comic strips.
Director Dean Israelite (Project Almanac) worked to bridge together an original fan base that in older and those who may want to see a movie that was a little bit more grounded in realistic problems. These Angel Grove kids are not saints. Akin to more of the outcasts, for example, Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) is a delinquent that gets himself into trouble and kisses his star-studded high school football career goodbye. If you’ve seen Project Almanac, then you will be familiar with the look of this movie. The tones are very gray and dark in the beginning and the cinematography is done to feel like you are in the conversations.
As the origin of the tale is revamped, there’s a slight adjustment on how everything began in the Power Ranger universe. Zordon (Bryan Cranston) who once was the red ranger himself was at odds with Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) who betrays them. From the series, we’ve come to know both characters as cartoon-y and just as constant, continual pieces that just serve as where the series has structure. Cranston’s version of Zordon is very reluctant and headstrong in giving up his duty to protect Earth at first — almost self-serving to become the leader again. As Zordon is the guidance during the TV show, Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) more so takes on that role in this movie.
Elizabeth Banks does a convincing job at a more menacing and gritty version of Rita Repulsa. The original incarnation was not that much of a threat aside from her creations to the actual Power Rangers themselves, however, in the movie, Rita serves as the direct, dangerous threat.
Power Rangers sets a predominant premise on teamwork. The notion that five teens from Angel Grove are just given metal handles in able to come their powerful selves is an afterthought. After the crystals are discovered, each of the characters are enhanced with strength, but not necessarily their morphing power. The emphasis on “team” is a running narrative throughout the entire movie which maybe considered hasty at first since most of these characters have just met. Even from the formation of the zords, every movement has to be in sync in order for them to win. This can be both great and at times cumbersome.
As we are in 2017, Power Rangers also tackles serious themes in terms of inclusion. Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler) has autism, but it’s not portrayed as a disadvantage to the group. If anything, Billy is the highlight of the movie, both bringing these five strangers together and providing an intelligent, comic relief to the movie as well. Cyler’s portrayal of Billy shows that people who have autism can be capable of all the normalizes that someone without the disease has. Trini Kwan (Becky G) questions her sexual orientation, which makes her withdrawn from both the group early on and her family. These types of characters bring about a refreshing amount of realism into the Power Rangers universe. It’s good to be in a place where you can be forthcoming about different types of characters from all walks of life.
Throughout the movie, there are some nods to the past and some quick cameos as an acknowledgment to the fans who may have been rushing home from school at the time the series was started. Power Rangers keeps a balance between action and the right amount of cheese/goofiness. At times, it can be serious, but for the most part, the movie keeps the heart that has been beating within this huge engine for more than 20 years.
Featured Photo Credit: Lionsgate Pictures