Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Dean Israelite
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Matthew J. Lloyd
WRITER: John Gatins
MUSIC: Brian Tyler
When I was a kid, I loved “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” and never missed an episode. At the time, it was this epic show about five Power Rangers that were teenagers but if trouble hit, they accessed the power in their coins and became warriors who knew martial arts. In every episode, the threat became bigger and eventually, the Rangers had to access their giant robotic Zords and when the threat once again escalated, the Zords eventually had to assemble the Megazord.
In reality, it worked on us as kids, but as adults, the show is quite campy. Like most shows of its day, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” was an attempt to sell toys and other merchandise. The quality of the show was not on the top of anyone’s concerns.
Still, there are a few films that I prefer to see every year even if I wasn’t a film critic. “Power Rangers” is definitely one of those films. Due to the campy nature of the original show, though, I also knew that it only had a 50/50 chance of being good or turning into a huge dumpster fire.
Thankfully, this movie works out way better than it should have and it is quite an entertaining popcorn movie. The main reason for this is the fact that the movie actually allows us to get to know the Rangers and gives them believable teenage problems. These are not the happy-go-lucky teenagers of the original show who automatically accept their newfound power.
It’s basically “The Breakfast Club” with superheroes. Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Billy (RJ Cyler), Zack (Ludi Lin), and Trini (Becky G) eventually meet through different circumstances at a quarry where they discover a hidden spaceship. Eventually, Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) show up to reveal that they have been chosen to become Power Rangers so that they can stop Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Bank) from finding a great power that can destroy the world.
Before they can do that, though, they must get to know each other. This is where the movie takes a deeper look at these characters more than any of the shows ever did. The film is also surprisingly more serious than I thought it would be and it is probably the most diverse cast I’ve seen as well.
The movie not only contains kids from multiple ethnicities, it is also the first blockbuster superhero film to contain a gay character. Then there is also RJ Cyler as Billy Cranston, a character that not only represents the heart of the team, he also became my favorite character of the movie due to Cyler’s memorable performance of a character that also reveals that he is on the autistic spectrum.
The best part about this movie is the fact that it also doesn’t make a big deal about the diversity of its cast. These are just five kids from all walks of life who ended up in the same predicament and they are not only united by their common goal but also their common struggles as teenagers. There are role models for everyone.
There is a bit of cheesiness to the movie as it does embrace its roots a little bit, but it’s justifiable due to the very fact that it is paying tribute to its rather cheesy parent. Still, there are other tributes to the original show that are handled very well such as the Power Rangers theme blaring when the Zords are heading out to take on Goldar. They even managed to make the phrase “It’s morphin time” work without it sounding too out of place or making it too much of a “wink-wink” moment to the older fans.
The action is good when it finally happens. I must admit that it’s not the best action I’ve ever seen, but it is far away from the worst. I must also say that since the film takes its time to develop the heroes, it’s well into the film’s second half before the Power Rangers proper show up.
Ultimately, though, this is a successful start to the new film series for the Power Rangers franchise. The movie gets way more right than it does wrong and even some of those “wrong” moments aren’t that bad. It’s a fun blockbuster movie that everyone from the kids to the adults can enjoy.