I didn’t grow up watching Transformers or Turtle Mutant Ninja Turtles so I didn’t have an emotional attachment to those when Michael Bay beat the billions of dollars outta those franchises in front of horrified fanboys. But since Hollywood has dried the 80s up for all they are worth, it’s time to start bleeding the 90s and the first stop is Power Rangers. For those who didn’t know, Power Rangers was actually based on the tv show Super Sentai from Japan. Japan would do a full season of Super Sentai and then Fox would take the stock footage for their own show in America. Basically, whenever Power Rangers were left to create its own original content, it sucked. Look no further than the 1995 film Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. The point I’m trying to make is that this movie doesn’t have a very high bar to go over to be better than it’s 1995 predecessor.
The film starts with 5 troubled teens in detention at Angel Grove High School. You have Jason, who is on house arrest after breaking and entering while leading police on a chase, Zach who lives in the woods somewhere and never goes to school, Billy who is likely autistic, Kimberly who is kind of a bitch, and Trini who everyone forgets is even in the movie. Because they try to take the film seriously (at least in the beginning) the opening feels like a throwback episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation. The film knows its core audience is in its late 20s to early 30s, so they try to be more adult and edgy with the dialogue. This doesn’t work, however, when the edginess is written for an audience 10-15 years younger than the core. It’s easy to be annoyed by this off the bat, but it’s not like the original cast everyone loves had much character either. They were one-note stereotypes saved by fight scenes and stuntmen so perspective is the key.
A few things jumped out at me early, The special effects looked pretty rough, barely believable in some cases. Now I know this film has a budget of 100 Million so it doesn’t have the quarter billion dollar money banks of Marvel, but some of the green screen effects were so first draft, I couldn’t believe they couldn’t do a little better. The second complaint as a fan is the costume design. I understand you want to stand out so matching the original costumes are impossible, but the film still based their current designs on the original MMPR series. What they ended up with however were generic looking Transformer clones that don’t look original or halfway decent. Rita in the film, played by Elizabeth Banks, looks like a ghost straight out of the last Conjuring movie which was an odd choice, the look of Rita in the tv show was iconic so the choice to go with horror movie villain just felt odd. As a fan, I’m disappointed, but not too much because even I acknowledge that if they model their movie based on the TV series, they wouldn’t have a lot of material to work with anyway.
Power Rangers at least tries to stand out on its own for the first 90 minutes whether you like it or not. But the last 30 minutes they decide that if they didn’t give the OG fans a slap of nostalgia, the film is doomed so the climax of the movie is 20 minutes of ‘Hey! member this???’. Rita finds the Zeo Crystals at a local Krispy Kreme (who gets every cent out of their product placement here) so the Rangers morph for the first time about 25 minutes before the credits and operate their Decepticon looking zords to fight a Goldar, who fans remember as the lovable flying monkey flunkie villain who in this movie is literally a giant pile of gold.
Power Rangers, in a nutshell, is Saban and Lionsgate’s attempt to build a superhero origin story with the hope of having a universe of films to build on in the future. Will Power Rangers fans enjoy this film? Probably not, you’ll spend all your time nitpicking things that aren’t like the original series. Will your average moviegoers like this film? Honestly, yes. This is not a great movie by any stretch, but it is watchable and its better than the 1995 counterpart which wasn’t a hard task to complete. I’m very indifferent toward Power Rangers at this point. I can’t be too positive or too negative one way or another, but if this film gets anything right, is it that you are really going to want some donuts when this is all over