Power Rangers – Reliving Childhood

Director: – Dean Israelite

Cast: – Bryan Cranston, Dacre Montgomery, Elizabeth Banks, Naomi Scott

Genre: – Sci-Fi, Action

The Power Rangers franchise has been the TV addicting drug for at least two generations and their parents’ ultimate nightmare. I would know because I was in that category once. Whether I had an exam the next day or not, when the show aired I had to watch it – despite my mother’s futile attempts to make me study instead. With time, however, my mother too would sit down next to my sister and me and watch it. And I could probably speak for a large section of my generation when I say it was every child’s show back in the day but with time “Life got in the way” and we all had to grow out of it.

I was a bit skeptical about the movie because the show or its movies back then were no cinematic marvel, they were not as good and made little sense. Hence, the audience for it were kids who watched mostly cartoons. But when my friend saw its trailer he had already placed himself in the theater in his mind. Alas, a movie buff like me tagged along because if the movie isn’t good I would either sleep or wander off into some fantasy land, but boy was i wrong.

The movie was a laughter and logical riot from the very beginning. I am going to review the movie now and don’t think i am going to mention any spoilers because I would like you all to watch it.

The movie is based on the life of five teens (played by actors who are definitely not in their teens) living in a small town called Angel Grove who have a pretty dark life marked by failures or joyrides that have ended up in disasters. Few of them are friends while others are coincidentally in the same place when they stumble upon a rock that paves the way to an alien spaceship. A spaceship that belonged to a clan of protectors called the Power Rangers who died protecting the Zeo Crystal from the Evil Rita (Elizabeth Banks), a fellow ranger who betrayed them due to greed. The kids are chosen by coins they found in the rock (each coin has a designated color that marks a ranger suit)and are tasked with protecting the universe from Rita who is trying to gain the Zeo Crystal to harness its energy to destroy the universe for her own reasons.

Never use your power for personal gain. Never escalate a battle unless an enemy forces you. Always keep your identiy a secret, no one may know that you are a Power Ranger. – Zordan

That is pretty much the plot and it seemed enough.

Let’s look at the performance by the cast. Let’s begin with the notable characters now, Bryan Cranston (Zordan) the last surviving member of the former power rangers clan who is now a part of the spaceship’s AI. He plays the role pretty well considering he’s the new team’s guru. Bryan Cranston is a gifted actor and if the script had been tweaked he could have overshadowed the new team who are a bunch of newbies but it wasn’t. He was a part of the film and not the film itself, thankfully.

Elizabeth Banks (Rita) is the villain, the former green ranger who gives into greed and becomes the destroyer of the thing she was sworn to protect. You can see how greed has consumed her and how sick she has become due to it. She was a very simple villain, who just was out to gain the crystal and nothing else, there is no deep thought process to understand her nor does she have any ulterior motives.

The new cast featuring a bunch of actors I have never seen before playing major roles, a few of them have been cast as supporting actors who you could miss if you didn’t pay much attention. But these talented actors played their roles wonderfully. They used humor in the perfect combination with serious threat assessment to learning their roles with time. But the main showstopper amongst the five rangers has got to be RJ Cyler’ character – Billy (the blue ranger), traditionally the red ranger, who in this installment was played by Dacre Montgomery (Jason Scott) does most of the gluing work but was outshined by the geek who brought the team together not by some plan but by his character. He was the perfect combination of a freakish shade of geekiness, mixed with a sense of loyalty – it is seen as all his conversations in the movie are directed towards Jason who he is loyal to for saving his life earlier in the film. Everyone else in the show has their issues such as Ludi Lin (Zack – Black Ranger) has a sick single mother, Becky G. (Trini – the yellow ranger) has disapproving parents, Naomi Scott (Kimberly – Pink Ranger) has a group of friends who abandoned due to some issues. The group of friends have some chemistry that evolves through the length of the film and is spectacular to observe.

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Now, the film had very few loopholes because it followed up to a franchise reboot which had a dying fanbase due to the presence of horrible CGI and animation. I had seriously low expectations for this film but man did it blow that out of the water. The entire film follows the lives of teens who are wrapping their heads around the concept of being the guardians of the universe. The movie portrays it in such a way that a person can actually relate to. Gaining super-strength is scary and puzzling for any kid and it was so for them. Other places where you would not expect them to succeed on the first try, were places they actually didn’t. Most films lose in such categories but this one stood its ground perfectly. You see instances where the team has to bond to progress further in their training but they don’t get along no matter the stakes because it isn’t humanly possible at the moment. So, the movie kept it’s grip on reality while at the same time it played through the part of the presence of superheroes well too. Later when there came parts of the movie where they displayed enhanced superhero skills, you couldn’t really question it because maybe you didn’t see it before but that training could very well have been performed. The supporting cast including the villain had a very single layered performance because in a backdrop such as this a complex background could kill the mood of the film. The little guardian of the ship, the Alpha – 5 added to the entertainment of the film, he along with the film’s comic references and funny moments such as the Megazord doing a celebratory dance paid off in locking it up as a soothing and successful replay of some precious childhood memories. Part of me wishes this could have been ten years earlier but I guess that was a time when supercomputers did the animations.

The suits were near perfection with the layer by layer progression in assembling made more sense than the original morphing but part of me wished they would use that morphing technique instead (what’s better than SPD – Emergency?). I particularly liked the alien origin of the concept of power rangers and how they each have super-strength because how else could you sustain so much damage. And I thank the creators for not putting in the spark feature as a suits impact absorbing mechanism. The Zords had amazing designs reminiscent of the original power rangers films and it was all naturally present in the script, there were no moments in the Zord such as,”I wonder what this button does” and “oh this is what it does” kind of moments. It was all natural, the assembly,  the neural link of the ranger to the Zord and how the Zord rejects any person who isn’t wearing the suit to the joining of the Zords to form the Megazord.

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Rangers with their Zords

There isn’t much to criticize in the film except for the part, that this movie made the morphing into rangers for the kids way too tough but I guess audiences aren’t as dumb as they used to be when the original movie and it’s successive TV shows had come out. They all have grown up and want to see the heroes suffer to achieve greatness.

There was also a recent news article which stated that there was an intimate scene between the red and pink ranger which never made it to the final cut because the film’s directing team felt it would portray the girl as a love interest and would undermine the value of her character, a move I have immense respect for and something other movies could take a lesson from.

All in all, it has a been very successful reboot of a franchise from my childhood and I am glad the directing team put a lot of thought into it.  I have seen a lot of disappointments in reboots off late such as the fantastic four reboot (universally criticized), Max Steel (god, it was bad) etc.

The movie has paved ways for sequels and I hope they are as good as this one was. If you haven’t watched it yet, please go see it – whether you are a power rangers fan or not.

My Rating: – Amazing reboot to my childhood.

-temporalnomad

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