Power Rangers (2017) Review: Flawed, But Fun
When the 5 teenagers we’ve come to know and love finally don their armour, the evil Rita Repulsa remarks how cute it is that they finally have their super suits and dinosaur robots. She says this with an irony that is present all throughout the film. A movie that reveres its source material, just as much as it irreverently mocks it.
That source material is, of course, the ‘Power Rangers’ television show, in which 5 teenagers with attitude are given incredible abilities, and tasked with defending the Earth from alien attackers. The film follows the same basic formula, but with slightly better visuals than the low budget tv show it hails from. Still, there’s nothing here that you won’t find in the last Transformers movie.
Truly, ‘Power Rangers’ is less its own property but more an amalgam of films done better. It takes its cues from ‘The Breakfast Club’, ‘Chronicle’, ‘Pacific Rim’, and others. It wears its references on its sleeve but feels like a cheap copy in some instances. Despite not feeling wholly original, the movie manages to maintain an energy to it that keeps you engaged with its light tone and enjoyable moments.
This is just my personal preference. As obvious as that might be for a review based on my own opinion, I feel it should be emphasised in the case of this movie. Many times I saw something in the movie that would typically drive me mad. An unrealistic interaction between the characters, an enormous leap in logic, so many issues are found in ‘Power Rangers’, that are enough to condemn the film as the main contender for this years’ Razzies. And yet, I actually quite enjoyed this movie.
What works about ‘Power Rangers’ is, the rangers. The 5 actors pegged to play the young heroes are a cut above what you might expect. Perhaps because they’ve actually been given realised characters to dig into. For every logical inconsistency and so so bit of dialogue in ‘Power Rangers’, there are moments when the characters truly shine, with an ensemble cast that feels balanced and well utilised.
Even with all its disappointing issues, there are moments when ‘Power Rangers’ doesn’t do what you expect. The story has a basic team adventure structure to it, but many of the most tired elements of that structure have been left on the cutting room floor. Instead, ‘Power Rangers’ feels slick, with all the fat trimmed, leaving behind the main dish ready for cinematic consumption. Of course, that could be the result of a script that had so much packed into it that certain scenes had to be cut out, but if that’s the way Hollywood learns to omit scenes we’ve seen 100 times, then so be it.
It would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention the changes made in ‘Power Rangers’ for two of its characters. Billy, played by RJ Cyler, has been written as someone who is on the autism spectrum. Billy has a vulnerability to him and is played beautifully by Cyler with heart. Trini, played by Becky G, is now a member of the LGBTQ community and speaks in the film about her girlfriend troubles. What was most refreshing about these portrayals was how much they didn’t lean on played stereotypes or clunky and awkward exposition. The characters felt real and normalised the people they were trying to represent.
‘Power Rangers’ is a movie riddled with flaws. There are moments that simply defy explanation, with zord sized gaps in the script. In fact, many of its problems are not dissimilar to the ones found in last year’s travesty ‘Batman v Superman’. The difference is, ‘Power Rangers’ has such an endearing self-awareness, that it’s impossible to stay mad at it. I could see everything wrong with this movie, but I enjoyed it immensely nonetheless.