The original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers TV show was always big part of my childhood. What could be more awesome as a kid than watching superheroes with giant combining robots fighting monsters?. It helped spark my love of the Tokusatsu genre and became such a massive hit that it spawned an entire franchise, exactly like its Japanese counterpart ‘Super Sentai'(which is where all the battle footage for the show came from). Of course you watch it back these days and realise how bad the writing and acting actually was, but it still provides a dose of campy fun and the action and effects are still very enjoyable.
So 24 years after its debut Lionsgate has teamed up with Haim Saban to reboot the original series as a brand new movie franchise, with this first film being directed by Dean Israelite.
So does the new Power Rangers offer a fun thrill ride?…well if it is a ride, it’s not one I’d hop on again.
The story is basic and mirrors the first episode of TV series where the teenagers first get their powers and take on Goldar in the climax. Of course this is stretched out over a 2 hour movie which is much more grounded and features a number of differences and added details. One of the biggest changes is how the teenagers this time don’t start as friends but are brought together by a number of coincidences and become friends later on while dealing with their powers. It’s a welcome change, but their friendship does end up feeling a little forced. One of the things I did like though, was how each teenager had their own unique little characteristics that differentiate them as well as being shown the different issues they deal with in their home life. They are appreciated details, which along with the opening moments are the most interesting aspects of the films story.
The acting for the most part isn’t too bad either. The teenage gang are played by a bunch of little known up-and-coming actors and work well enough in their roles, RJ Cyler was the only real standout though, he plays Billy Cranston who in the film is now a black autistic kid and is the best character in the film, he just has a lot of likability and was more generally more compelling than the rest of the teenagers. The film also features Brian Cranston who reprises his role as Zordon from the original series, though this time the deep bellowing voice has been dropped and he looks and sounds more like his normal self, which works fine. Meanwhile Elizabeth Banks hams it up to the max as Rita Repulsa and while not exactly good, you can tell she’s really enjoying the role so it makes her performance fun at least. She’s actually quite scary when she is first re-awakened and is much more involved with the action than the original Rita, though she does remind me a little of DivaTox from Power Rangers Turbo.
But Power Rangers has never been about the story or acting, it’s all about the action and effects, which is where the film becomes a massive disappointment. On the visual side of things, a lot of the designs aren’t the best. The Ranger suits look super cool and I like a couple of the Zords, but the Megazord looks like a bland Michael bay Transformer reject, Alpha 5 just looks plain ugly, the putties are crappy rock people and Goldar is a literal giant gold mess. They are just generic and lazy design choices and that’s not just me making comparisons to the original designs, cause even as a standalone product I would think exactly same.
I’m all for them trying to do something new, but there’s more potential to do so much better than what they delivered. Goldar’s design in particular was the biggest disappointment to me, there were so many other possibilities for a cool monster design, especially considering the great work Legendary pictures have been doing with their ‘Monsterverse’ or the great monster designs in ‘Pacific Rim’. Hell even the cruddiest monster costumes I’ve seen in all my years of watching Tokusatsu shows & movies are more interesting than that lump of gold crap.
Then there’s the action, which is just a mess. It’s mainly a barrage of choppy editing and messy camerawork that just wasn’t enjoyable and even when the action was a little more clear to see, it wasn’t all that impressive, aside a few cool moments scattered about. Now I’ll admit I do have quite high standards when it comes to action and its presentation, so more casual viewers are probably gonna be fine with what the movie offers and to be fair there’s a definitely a fair amount of action in the movie to process, but it really did do nothing for me. I will say that I did enjoy the german suplex being used as a big special move that everyone had to learn and that’s about all that was noteworthy to me. It must be the first time in all my years of watching Power Rangers that I enjoyed the human aspects more than the action.
I went into this film not expecting something great but something that was at least fun and the opening moments did show promise, but it was all down hill from there. The characters were OK, but the visuals and action really let it down for me. I commend them for trying to distance it from the original series and not play too hard on the nostalgia factor (though I admit I got excited when they played the Power Rangers theme for all of 10 secs) but this just didn’t work for me. I’m sure there are many other people who will find more enjoyment here and kids will probably love it, but for me it was a very lacklustre experience.
Story – 5/10
Acting – 6/10
Visuals – 4/10
Sound – 5/10
Entertainment Value – 4.5/10
Overall – 4.9/10 – BAD
Reviewed by Eric Hart (Blazin’ Hart)