Power Rangers – Should Have Stayed Back in the 90s
Movie Review by Sreedevi Jayarajan (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
For all those 90s kids who grew up hooked on the Power Rangers Camp TV series back in the day, the idea of a cinematic reboot of the superhero franchise sure would have seemed exciting. However, rebooting this franchise was an unfortunate mistake.
The power rangers should have remained a nostalgic memory of simpler times and simpler TV that fans of the show go back to every once in a while. Why do I say this? Simple. Because a 90s superhero concept can never thrive in today’s over-exploding market of Superhero movies and franchises. And the movie simply cannot hold a candle to, say, the Iron-man, Avengers or Suicide Squad franchises. This immediately places the flick at a disadvantage as it would not inspire kids of today (who are the primary audience of superhero movies), who apparently know of cooler superheroes and might scoff at these struggling teenagers trying to morph into their hideous costumes. These kids might even find the concept and the storyline of the Power Rangers rudimentary, clearly because they are overexposed to Superhero movies and shows. Furthermore, the movie has retained a certain naïveté and innocence of a 90s superhero flick that may not resound with today’s young audiences.
Making matters worse, the movie does absolutely nothing to help new viewers jump on board the bandwagon by failing to provide the background of the Rangers. The Power Rangers is an ancient line of intergalactic warriors charged with the responsibility of protecting the Zeo Crystal (the source of all life on earth. Every planet has a Zeo crystal buried in it), which will forever remain cryptic to the uninitiated. In this film, the Rangers are five students from the Angel Grove high school (predictably all are social outcasts in some way or the other). They are trained by Ex Red Ranger Zordon (played by Bryan Cranston) who appears as a hologram on a wall in a spaceship, and the friendly yet pathetically designed automaton Alpha 5, voiced by Bill Hader. The rangers are tasked with fighting the ex-ranger turned gold obsessed super-villain Rita Repulsa, portrayed by Elizabeth Banks, who wants to take Earth’s Zeo Crystal. For those unaware of the teenage morphing superhero storyline, the movie will fail to educate them on the context.
This would lead us to argue that the Rangers were rebirthed for all those kids of the 90s who were dying to see their favorite childhood superheroes back in action. However, even for those die-hard fans, the movie does not do justice, owing to its many technical and narrative failings. The most obvious foible is the absence of a strong negative character.
The reboot has brought back the alien super-villain Rita Repulsa from the show’s first season. Repulsa is dressed like an alien witch-princess, eats gold chains from stores and conjures monsters made of rocks and a gigantic beast made of molten, swiveling gold to fight the rangers and claim the crystal. However, despite the portrayal of pure evil, something about Rita fails to build up the plot to nail biting excitement. This could probably be because we have seen way too many great villains (read The Joker). Or it could even be because of the over-exaggerated evil bordering on silliness depicted in the film. An average villain amounts to a weakening of conflict in the plot. This inevitably results in a weak climax, and that is one of the big flaws in the film. The climax, including the special effects, just fails to impress.
Perhaps, to overcome the outdatedness of the entire franchise, the movie tries to overcompensate by doubling as an emotional teen drama, a sci-fi, and an action flick. It ends up not doing anything well. The plot gets confusing as it shifts from different genres, resulting in a rough, unstable narrative. The actors, especially, Jason (Dacre Montgomery) and Kimberly (Naomi Scott) do a good job but is eclipsed by the rudimentary plot, shaky effects and the absolute paucity of hard-hitting dialogues. In fact, the main actors spend half of the movie trying to learn how to morph into their Ranger suits and finally spend 15 minutes in them.
In essence, the relaunch of the Rangers was an ambitious plan that turned out to be a horrible mistake. And this mistake is sure to affect its box office.