I know what you guys are thinking “Didn’t this drop yesterday?” Well, not really. See, a review for this movie dropped on this site but it was posted by someone other than me that Ryan and Ron picked and since I am the guy who does superhero/nerd movie reviews. So, for those of you who read that yesterday, I’m sorry, it won’t happen again. And if you’re wondering why you should read this review if you read the other one? Well, this will be less wordy, more blerdy (no offense, other guy, but this is my hood).
So, if you read my 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2017 post, you’ll know that I was pretty amped about this film. At first, I was against it. The other two power ranger films were absolute garbage and the series gets worse with each iteration on television. Not to mention, when talk of this film got rolling, a “deboot” called Power/Rangers dropped and it was everything a someone who started watching the original series 24 years ago would want. It was dark, gritty and explored the ramifications of drafting teenagers, giving them super powers and having them fight aliens. So of course when they announce the new film would be NOTHING like this, I was disappointed. However, the more that was revealed about this film, the more the anticipation built.
I won’t go too in depth about the plot details of the film but I will say it’s a solid re-entry to the series for those of us who were there from the beginning and a great introduction for the next generation of fans. It does a great job of balancing what we loved about the original while standing out on its own. The movie itself establishes that Rita is not just some wicked witch, hell bent on ruling the world, she is a fallen Green Ranger, ally to the former red ranger, Zordon. This not only serves to give her character some depth, it also shows the rangers an example of how power can be used irresponsibly. We get one glimpse of Rita in full ranger garb (sans golden shield) at the very beginning of the film but aside from that, she’s in rags or a broken version of her armor.
The rangers themselves aren’t too noteworthy outside of Billy (played by RJ Cyler, a real life Blerd AND looks and talks like Ron) and a little bit of Zack. I wasn’t a fan of the black ranger not being black at first, but RJ Cyler as Billy is what makes this movie work. In the film, Billy is on the autism spectrum and starts the movie off being bullied before being saved by fallen golden boy, Jason. Billy, who doesn’t have friends, offers to help Jason out of his predicament, in exchange for a trip to the mines the look up some strange energy readings and feel closer to his deceased father. Billy is not only responsible for the rangers getting their coins, he is the first to morph (a task that isn’t simple in this movie) and he is the glue of the team. His energy, enthusiasm and desire to be with his new friends is the driving force behind the film. So much so, that his (temporary) death, which triggers the final arc of the film, really hit hard. Even though he gets revived 5 minutes later by Zordon, this is the first time you realize there are actual stakes to giving kids super powers.
Where this film falls flat is in its pacing. The film is 124 minutes total and only in the last 25 minutes do we actually see the power rangers in action. The film takes its time building up the backstory of the rangers and truly molding them into a team. As I stated earlier, them morphing into their ranger forms wasn’t a given. They had to truly earn their powers and when they finally did, the pay off was worth it. The first time all five morphed, I looked over at my 4 year old son and he had his hands over his mouth with a look of excitement that gave me goosebumps. That feeling he felt as he watched those 5 teens become rangers is likely the same feeling I felt the first time I watched an MMPR episode.
I would’ve loved to have seen more of Rita as the Green Ranger via flashback and more about how and why she betrayed her team during the film, but I am sure that will come in the sequel, where I am sure a certain new student, teased during the mid-credit scene, will likely become a thorn in the ranger’s side. The cast, which has embraced their ranger roles, is lobbying for Tommy to be a girl in the sequel and at first, I wasn’t for it but we just got an LGBT ranger in a superhero film AND the standout character is on the spectrum so the most bad ass ranger in history being a girl would be dope for a new generation of fans. I will always have the original 6 rangers to watch, this movie is for the new fans. It’s for my son, who has had his love of the Ninja Turtles supplanted by the Power Rangers the same way I did in 1993. It’s for the kid struggling with whatever issue to know they have superheroes they can relate to. So, to that end, I say….ITS MORPHIN TIME!!