To say that Power Rangers is my favorite franchise would be an understatement. It’s one of the few things in entertainment that I truly feel passionate about. It’s a franchise that, despite its obvious and terrible flaws, I just can’t outgrow. Hell, I’m twenty-five years old and I’m working on a Power Rangers fan comic book; that’s how much this franchise means to me. There’s something I just love about having a bunch of random kids becoming faceless warriors to protect the Earth. At its best (i.e., Power Rangers In Space), it’s a franchise that is funny but isn’t afraid to get dark. It’s an action series that’s also a romantic drama. And I love all of it—well, most of it anyway: I can’t honestly defend the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles storyline.
So, to say that I was eagerly anticipating this movie barely hits the truth.
When news broke three years ago that Saban was looking to make a new Power Rangers movie, I thought: “Uh, hopefully they make it gritty” but nothing more. I remembered Saban’s two previous efforts and let’s just say that their track record was far from the best. I was hopeful but not optimistic. Later, when Lionsgate released the first pieces of promotional material for the movie, whatever hope I had vanished instantly: “they got the lightning bolt wrong! How do you screw up a lightning bolt? And have you seen the suits? They suck! They look like weird alien exoskeletons! They have boob armor and high heels! That’s not what I grew up with!” was pretty much my reaction. Add the Transformers-esque look of the Zords to the list and what you got was a pretty bummed out Tanguy.
And then one day, the first trailer dropped. It was a character trailer and after watching it, I thought it could be not awful. Better: it could actually be decent. Fast forward to three months ago and the second trailer was released; this one was a real gut punch. It looked like your standard super hero movie and quite frankly this was all I needed. If this movie was as good as the trailers promised, I’d consider it a win.
Finally, it came out in good ol’ Paris, France, and I got to see it. I was really scared: see, the two trailers had given me hope. “Please don’t let me down, movie”, I kept repeating to myself as I sat in the theater with my best friend. One hundred and twenty-four minutes went by, and the lights went back on. I turned to my friend, giggling like a little girl, and I told him: “I can’t believe they fucking pulled it off.” Because what I saw not only was the best Power Rangers movie of all-time (duh), but also possibly my favorite movie of the year, and that’s saying something with such a loaded 2017.
These Rangers may share their names with their 1993 counterparts, but not much else. Jason was the star of the football team until he got kicked out after he sneaked a bull into the school’s locker room. Kimberly was a cheerleader until she punched a guy’s tooth out. Billy is an autistic kid (I know) who happens to make stuff blow up. They all meet during detention. The point is: they’re not role models, they’re shitty teens. Deep down they are good people but for now they’re lost kids. Zordon is a dick who berates them the moment he meets the team. I kid you not: 60% of the movie is about character development, and if you think that’s too much, you’d be dead wrong. The way the movie handles its characters is by far its greatest strength.
Plot-wise, it’s a mix of Chronicle and 2002’s Spider-Man in the sense that it’s about teenagers getting superpowers from an alien rock and their trying to figure out what to do with them. It’s a very fun ride through and through. Rita Repulsa is the antagonist here, and while Elizabeth Banks does a tremendous job in the role, she does not overshadow the Rangers: they are the stars and every one of them has several touching character moments that took me by surprise. It’s a Power Rangers movie that got me emotional at one point (and I don’t consider myself a softie). A Power Rangers movie! In 2017!
Of course, it’s not a perfect movie. Design-wise, the suits don’t look great (although they look much better in action than in still images), some story points go unaddressed, and this version of Goldar is lame. Also (minor spoiler) there’s no Bulk and Skull in this movie, what the Hell? Some lines fall flat and a few jokes are misses, but that’s all very minor. It’s a film full of confidence, a film which rewards the viewer for their patience (spoiler, again: The Rangers only morph once, at the very end of the movie). It has just the right amount of fan service, most of which happens in the last act. It’s a Power Rangers adventure for newcomers and old-timers alike.
It really saddens me to read so many negative reviews online; maybe critics are too cynical, maybe it’s superhero fatigue. I don’t know why they didn’t get it, but that’s their loss. I was hoping for a good movie, I was expecting something mediocre, and what I got was a terrific movie-going experience that I cannot wait to live again. I love Power Rangers In Space with all of my heart, but this is my new favorite iteration on the Power Rangers formula. Lionsgate said they’re planning for at least five more movies, and I cannot wait for these sequels to come. I long for the time when I go back to Angel Grove and meet these five shitty teens again.