WHELP! Here we are at the review for Saban’s Power Rangers. However, before we go to the end result, and my thoughts on the film let us look back at how we got here. It was around 2014, when Lionsgate responsible for Twilight (Blegh) and Hunger Games (Ok), announced that they acquired the rights to make a Power Rangers film. Considering that we had two Power Rangers movies before this, the first an alternate take on the opening events of Season 3 was a success and the Turbo movie which was canon was not good, fans around the world were skeptical with Lionsgate for attempting this.
When the first casting reports came in we only knew who would play Kimberly, Naomi Scott. However, in the weeks to months follow we would discover Dacre Montgomery would be Jason, Ludi Lin as Zack, RJ Cycler as Billy, and Becky Gomez as Trini, thus completing the team. Around that time, Hunger Games star Elizabeth Banks was cast to play the “Wicked One” herself Rita Repulsa. Whereas, Bryan Cranston’s casting as Zordon did not happen until much MUCH later, and not even the other cast members knew Cranston was cast as Zordon until the Comic-Con announcement.
Then on October 8th 2016, the first teaser was released with very mixed signals. Several fans thought that the film would go down the route of the “BayFormers/ Chronicle” by being grim-and-dark. That conception would THANKFULLY change with the second trailer on January 19th 2017. One thing that fans did criticize was that alongside the trailer releases, Lionsgate would reveal info via the toyline rather than through more official channels. Now, I did not hate that route, because I am burnt out by MMPR in general. However, I am about to tick off a lot of MMPR loyalists, but… I AM BURNED THE HELL OUT ON THE CLASSIC MMPR! The main reason why I can enjoy the comics from Boom! Studios and Lionsgate film is because they are doing new things with the property.
Lionsgate is keeping the series grounded, and is re-inventing the classic characters for a new generation of fans. Old and current fans seem to scoff at this a lot, with comments like “This is a remake of something from my childhood, it is going to suck!”, “If this movie isn’t EXACTLY like the show, it will bomb!”, and of course, “Will the original cast make cameos?” If one cannot figure it out, I am just shaking my head at these comments. Now, I have lived through Power Rangers’ good times and its dark days. Yet, out of all 21 seasons, as I do not count the SUPER seasons as separate seasons, I have only hated two seasons. These seasons were of course Power Rangers Operation Overdrive and Megaforce, so if anything, I can live through this movie “not being the same as the 1990’s”. Now, with that said let see if Saban’s Power Rangers can deliver a new experience that fans of the franchise can enjoy!
SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT!!!
Our story begins in the Cenozoic Era, as the Red Ranger is crawling out of a gravel-laden battlefield. The Yellow Ranger removes her Power Coin, and gives it to the Red Ranger before she dies. The Red Ranger can only say to her, “I’m sorry”. We then discover the Red Ranger is Zordon, as he de-morphs and hides the Power Coins of the other fallen Rangers, except for one of them. The Green Ranger, appears who is none other than Rita Repulsa (yeah called it!), and she does not wear the Dragon Shield. Now, before Rita manages to defeat Zordon he radios Alpha-5 to direct a large meteor toward the Earth to act like a tactical nuke. The plan is successful, stopping Rita, as well as killing Zordon. Honestly this feels a little bit like Dino Charge, with Keeper’s crash-landing on the planet…
Fast-forward to the present day, where Jason is assisting in a prank where the one guy thought he was milking a cow, but Jason reminds him that the cow was a BULL. Oops. Most fans groaned at this, but at least Jason was not doing the “milking” like one other review exclaimed. Jason, and friends get caught and attempt to get away, however Jason crashes his truck. In the crash, he breaks his leg, gets caught and takes the blame for everything. Jason seemingly has a good heart, but it is not in the right place yet. He is then placed under house arrest, kicked off the football team, loses his scholarship, and forced to go to detention. At detention, we then meet Kimberly, and Billy. Kim is there for an unknown reason, but is later revealed to be the reason why she has been ostracized by her former friends. Kim sent out revealing photos of student, and it was a big screw-up. A lot of people call her out for it, but to be honest teenagers do stupid crap and it is an incident that reflects reality. Whereas, Billy is in detention for sort of making a bomb. He loves to tinker with things, and it sometimes results with the items exploding. Billy is also bullied a lot due to the fact he is autistic.
Now, Jason and Billy quickly become friends after Jason stands up for him. To show his gratitude Billy offers to reprogram the Jason house-arrest anklet for him. At first, Jason passes on the idea however takes the offer, but he also needs to help Billy with a favor. The two head out to the quarry where Billy has been investigating the area, being the son of an archaeologist. There they come across Kim, as well as Trini and Zack while Billy sets off a charge. From the blast the group discovers the Power Coins, as security arrives. They make an escape in Billy’s family van, but crash into an on-coming train. They manage to survive due to the powers within the Power Coins, however the power resonating reactivates Rita’s reviving her recovered corpse. Upon her revival, Rita sets forth murder anyone who stands in her way. Rita’s ultimate plan is to obtain as much gold as she can to restore Goldar, and reclaim the Zeo Crystal!
The next day, the gang discovers they are all completely healed, especially Jason’s busted leg. Then within the following hours discover the powers they have acquired. They all decide it is best to head back to quarry and see if they can find an answer. There they accidentally found an underground cavern, which leads them to the Command Center. Now, it the film the place is never by either of its original names, but just bear with me as I still call it the Power Chamber. The Rangers first encounter Alpha-5 before meeting with Zordon, like their originators and just like the original only Jason is willing to hear out Zordon’s pleas for help. Jason manages to convince the others to join the Zordon, learning they only have 11 days to stop Rita. The following morning the team begins their training, and learn the rules of being a Ranger. One thing that stands out it that to be able to morph the group needs to be synchronized with one another.
They make a few attempts early on to morph, but are unsuccessful. Alpha-5 then steps in to begin teaching them basic combat skills needed to fight Rita’s minions, the Putties. After a montage in how they become skilled fighters, the team is still able to morph. Alpha-5 steps in again thinking that maybe if the Rangers see the Zords that it will inspire them. Alpha-5 also explains that the Zords represent Dinosaurs because at the time they were strongest species on the planet. The explanation however raises the question; would the Dragon Zord or Thunder Zords be based on alien lifeforms that are equivalent to mythical creatures?… Anyways, Zack swipes the Mastodon for a joyride, but almost kills the Rangers in the process. Yet, it goes with his rebellious ways, as well as WHO WOULD NOT WANT TO TAKE A ZORD OUT FOR A JOYRIDE?
Never the less Zack’s stunt leads to fight with Jason. Billy goes into break up the fight, and in doing so it unlocks his ability to morph, just briefly though. My guess was he unintentional wills himself to morph, due towards the feelings of having friends. Later that night, they host a traditional campfire discuss dealing with their problems. Trini returns home, and she is ambushed by Rita who demands to know where the Zeo Crystal! Yeah, the Zeo Crystal is in the film, and it is shown to be a massive collection of gems that hold an immense power, McGuffin Level! Trini though does not know of its location, so Rita attempts to persuade her to join her in her quest before leaving. Now earlier during training, Jason overhears Zordon and Alpha discussing that once the Rangers can morph, he can revive himself. Jason is quickly pissed with Zordon, and engages him in an argument. Zordon tries to explain that the Rangers will need him in the battles to come, but Jason realizes he is just as scared as everyone else. He then chooses to keep the this a secret, until Trini mentions she has been in contact with Rita. From this they devise that now could be the time to defeat Rita, while she is still weak.
They go to set-up and engage Rita, but she still vastly overpowers the Rangers. The choreography in this scene is great in my opinion. Rita uses her power to tie-up the Rangers, and claims that she will not kill them if they tell her where the Zeo Crystal is. At first the Rangers, hold back the information, but after she tortures Zack, Billy reveals the location. The Zeo Crystal is hidden beneath a Krispy Kreme, of all damn things! Rita then thanks Billy, but her gratitude is shown by drowning Billy and forcing the others to watch. The team recovers Billy’s body and takes him back to Zordon in the hopes he can do something. Initially Zordon says there is nothing he can, but this emotionally unites the team allowing them to morph. Alpha exclaims to Zordon it is time for him to finally return, and he vanishes for mere seconds. However, he returns to the ship having used that time to revive Billy from the dead. The team finally undergoes their morph, and visuals are purely stunning! I honestly enjoy these Guyver-esque bio-organic armors, as well as the added voice modulation system. I also personally like how the suits are both physical ones that are accented by CG like how Marvel does it for their heroes.
Exiting the Command Center the Rangers encounter a hoard of Putties. Jason manages to pulling out the Power Sword to even the odds. Yet, even then there is still too many of them. Zack’s response is go get his Mastodon to mow down all the Putties. Everyone else follows his lead, and race off to Angel Grove to stop Goldar. While the Rangers race to the city, the fans are met with a homage to the original sequence accompanied by “Go Go Power Rangers”. However, it is not the new orchestral version, but the original from the 1995 movie, which I found as interesting nod to the original film too. Once entering the city, Rita summons forth another group of Putties to fight the Zords. I personally love the bit where the T-Rex Zord throws a yellow and black racing-striped Camaro with Jason exclaiming, “Sorry, BumbleBee!” I must admit, I laughed my ass off at that! In the battle, Putties causes Jason’s dad to crash his truck, as he was looking for him. Jason jumps out of his Zord to save his dad, but remembers to hide his identity in the process. The rangers manage to hurt Rita which collapses the Putties. It is here where Goldar shows a sign of sentience, going to rescue and heal Rita. The Rangers then attempt to hold a line separating her from the Zeo Crystal. The team blasts Goldar with everything the Zords have. The Zords must run on laser logic because they do not seem to run out of ammo. Goldar crushes the Pterodactyl, sets the Zords ablaze, and sends them into the pit with Zeo Crystal. While the team falls to their death, Billy thanks the team for being his friends as they are engulfed in an explosion.
Yeah Rita, ABOUT THAT… Apparently, the explosion and the team’s unity resonates with the Zeo Crystal allowing the Zords to combine! Thus, the Megazord is formed. Now, I have come to like the design, and the fact each Ranger has their own cockpit. The only thing I do not like is that the battle with Goldar is short. Yet, it has a defining moment where the Megazord hits Goldar with a freaking German Suplex. Instantaneously the scene made me want to cry out “SUPLEX CITY, BITCH!” The Megazord eventually uses the Pterodactyl’s wings as swords, to finish off Goldar. The Rangers then attempt to tell Rita to stand down, and turn over her staff housing the final Power Coin. Rita goes crazy with the whole “I KNOW I AM WORTHY!” line. In that fit of rage, Rita lunges towards the Megazord, but Trini bitch-smacks Rita into space as if she is Team Rocket. The Rangers stand triumphant, with bystanders looking on in awe. Among the people in the crowd are cameos by Amy Jo Johnson, and Jason David Frank.
The city starts to rebuild after Rita’s attack and Jason returns to the Power Chamber. He returns the Power Sword and Zordon questions why being worthy of the sword. Jason merely replies that he will back for it one day. Jason heads to class meeting up with Kim, and Billy where they pass him a note of the iconic lightning bolt with their colors in it. Meanwhile Trini is home fixing her room, as her brothers talk to her about the Rangers. When Trini mentions the Yellow Ranger, they tell her “He was awesome too!” Trini then replies, “How do you know it’s a boy?” which I felt was a jab at the original issue with Zyuranger’s adaptation as MMPR. There is then a mid-credit scene where the teacher calls for the new student, Tommy Oliver, who is missing from the room. THANK FREAKING CHRIST, the scene does not reveal Tommy, and leaves the reveal for the sequel!
My Thoughts & Final Analysis:
Now, that was Saban’s Power Rangers and I found it to be utterly AMAZING! The fact that we have a backstory on Rita, and Zordon makes this better than the original show. The way it was portrayed makes more sense than the typical good vs. evil plot. Elizabeth Banks KILLS IT as Rita in this movie. She has the crazy down pat, and she can “ham” it up just as much as the original Rita could. Then as for Alpha-5, the character was much like the original out of the way, supportive, and comedic. Bill Hader is a wonderful Alpha-5 too, as he has that sass I enjoy in characters. Hader’s portrayal really reminds me of the corrupted Alpha from “The Wedding” multi-parter. However, the movie DOES drag a bit during the development of the Rangers, but it is reasonable. Fans coming out of the film argued it took much time, and that there was not enough of the suits or “cheesiness”. Yet, I argue the Rangers need to be built up to be a team, and earn powers. Furthermore, if the development occurs after they get the suits, the characters might easily become afterthoughts.
I gravitate towards Billy the most in this movie since I have Asperger’s Syndrome, and RJ Cyler portrays the symptoms accurately. I feel like Zack and Trini fell by the wayside, and not as used as much as the others. However, during the campfire scene when the gang opens up to one another, is where Trini’s development stands out! Trini’s body-language as Zack jokes about her intimate relations tells the audience everything on she has not entirely able come to terms with the fact that she is gay; or she simply just does not have the confidence to be more open on the subject. Never the less, the whole scene speaks volumes and is another relatable struggle with the teens/ people of today.
The film also has a ton of Easter Eggs, so one might need to have eagle eyes to catch them all in one viewing. I am serious, trust me, there is a lot of them! However, I will not say what they are because see them is more entertaining. Plus, the film deserves multiple viewings. The movie is a TON of fun, and I cannot wait to see what they do with other past villains. Maybe we can get out of these sequels a new Ivan Ooze? Anyways, I am Zeltrax Millennuim and I hope for those reading this review that it was either on par with those who like the film, or convincing people who have not seen it to check it out!