Saban’s Power Rangers (2017) Review — Go Go Failed CW Pilot

Doo doo do doo doo.

  • Are any of you guys watching that new show, Riverdale? It’s this dark reboot of the Archie comics that successfully blends Twin Peaks-style murder mystery with the darker side of Archie’s history. It has its problems, but it’s an overall solid show that delivers on the thrills and the teenage angst in all sorts of cool ways, opening my eyes to the possibility that you can make the transition from light-hearted to dark and gritty fine whilst still sticking true to the source, even if you’re not a DC hero. I’m not sure if that’s the kind of show the Power Rangers production team intended, but it clearly had all the elements necessary to make something on that level.
  • Unfortunately, this is a two-hour movie rather than a ten-episode series. And while you might have been able to get away with what Riverdale accomplished in that format by focusing on only one character, Power Rangers has five, which leads to a lot of rushed potential.

Yeah, I’m the Yellow Ranger. What of it?

  • But I’m getting ahead of myself. Power Rangers is a reboot of that old popular 90s show that we all knew was terrible, but couldn’t stop watching if we were nerds growing up in a very specific phase of our lives. The names are the same as the first series, but the non-white races are different in order to avoid yet another controversy to America’s increasingly growing pile of them, and the personalities are different as well. For example, Billy is autistic in this version, and Kimberly is a bit of a bitch.
  • This version casts the five Rangers as a bunch of social outcasts living in a gritty version of Angel Grove and tries to go for a bit of a Persona-esque story with them as they gain superpowers and learn that in order to save the world, they must first face themselves. None of the problems they face are all that bad compared to what the ghetto is usually capable of, but they’re all relatable and serious enough for the most part, and could have been really cool if the film had dedicated more than forty-five minutes to examining them.
  • Because really, the first forty-five minutes or so when the characters deal with personal problems and gain their powers in a freak accident is the best part of the movie. It’s obviously rushed like the rest of the film, and some of the jokes are a bit lame, but it’s still kind of engaging because it knows that the best of today’s action stories mix the superpower stuff with relevant social issues. Plus watching the characters celebrate their new found freedom when they discover that they can jump large canyons and not get hurt is pretty cool, although the direction looking more like a low-budget TV show and not a high-budget film sort of hurts it a bit.

The Rangers expose their faces a lot even when gaining the armor for no other reason than so we can see them.

  • It also really helps that the actors they got to play the Rangers are really good, which is funny because they’re all unknown names. You really feel the chemistry between them when they’re just sitting around chatting, discussing their issues and how they can’t be as open as they’d like. Admittedly, Jason’s blandness combined with how he has to be the leader is a little distracting, but not to any significant degree.
  • The movie starts to soil itself when it introduces Zordon to the mix, because not only does the whole Zordon/Alpha/Goldar/Rita Repulsa nonsense jarringly contrast with the gritty teen drama that came before to the point that I swore I was watching a different film when it showed up, but the intriguing plotlines don’t even get any proper follow-up as a result.
  • You only see one instance of Trini’s family issues and that’s it. Kimberly’s arc is mostly done through words rather than action. Zack barely gets any screen time dedicated to his mother. I want to watch that and how their double-lives affect it. I don’t want to watch generic training montages dedicated to making the rangers wear armor in order to combat some boring villain who has no chemistry with the leads whatsoever.

Ironically it’s when Bryan Cranston shows up that the movie starts to become crap

  • To be fair, the training montages have the added effect of causing the Rangers to open up more to each other, but when you’re not using the results of that for anything more than “get armor and save the world”, it’s hard to feel all that invested in it. Especially since I think needing armor is kind of bullshit in of itself considering how every character is basically the junior version of Superman and thus shouldn’t need it to kick ass.
  • Civilian powers in stuff like the later Power Rangers and that old Beetleborgs show has always felt redundant, especially since they’re generally more creative than the actual armor powers themselves. And if you’ve guys seen Darker than Black, you’d know that even the most useless-seeming of powers can be very deadly if applied creatively. That’s why all the guys with the giant powers get killed off quickly in that show.
  • Yeah you need it to control the big Zords properly, but aside from that, there’s not really much point to it, and apparently the movie agrees given the lack of hand-to-hand combat in the armor, especially compared to the amount of combat that occurs out of the armor.
  • Power Rangers gets really stupid in the half-hour long finale when the Rangers finally morph into their armor in order to take down Rita and Goldar, who has been reimagined into a faceless gold giant that doesn’t speak here. Nothing but shitty action scenes against unimaginative creatures, no civilian casualties amongst the wreckage, and hasty conclusions to promising plotlines before gearing up for the six-part movie franchise sequel (no seriously, that’s a thing). In other words, every other generic superhero movie ever. With a couple of badly thrown-in lines from the original show to boot.

Go Go Edgy Rangers. Doo doo do…okay I’ll stop.

  • And it really was a shame, because more than most superhero revivals, Power Rangers could have really worked if the team behind it had any idea where it wanted to take the film. Instead it runs into that Suicide Squad problem of trying to keep five tones at once and suffered massively for it. I did like this movie better than Suicide Squad, but that was mostly because of my interest in what Power Rangers could have been as opposed to what it actually is. Having said that, this new Power Rangers is definitely the most disappointed I’ve been with a superhero film. After a shaky start, it soared high, it started to rain, and then it crashed into a demilitarized zone and set off a bunch of land mines.
  • It might satisfy hardcore fans and people who never liked the original series, but it won’t blow them away. If you want to see this kind of story executed well, you’re better off watching the comic-book shows on the CW instead. Especially Riverdale, the show that Power Rangers obviously wanted to be, and once you see it, you’ll understand why.

Minor Quips

  • On the other hand, free movie ticket to see Ghost in the Shell because the theater accidentally showed the wrong movie at our screening for a few minutes.
  • I could talk about the obnoxious product placement in the finale, but all I’ll say is “I hope Krispy Kreme got their money’s worth”.
  • When the two actors from the original show cameo’d at the finale, my theater burst into laughter.

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