Power Rangers (2017)
dir. Dean Israelite
written by: John Gatins
starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G, Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston, Bill Hader
Saban’s product placement Mighty Morphin Power Rangers debuted a few weekends near when I started Kindergarten; I distinctly remember drawing a picture of this fabulous bitch:
Madame Woe, Season 1, Episode 13
My brother and I saw the first movie in theaters, and after some expensive Christmas presents, the fad dwindled as most bright shiny things do. I’m sure it led to a long, injury filled tenure in martial arts (Chuck Norris’s brand of Taekwondo); and middle school was filled of asking, “What? Why?” every time I happened upon the show after school. Since then, Power Rangers didn’t really creep in my mind until Elizabeth Banks was cast as Rita Repulsa, and I was onboard for nostalgic overflow.
Aside from cinematography that wastes ample potential, always veering away when a steady shot would improve the action, the film was a throwback to an amalgamated Japanese show that made negligent sense and found the origin story within. You are greeted by a prologue that drops exactly what the movie is; I still won’t mention the specifics. John Gatins, Oscar nominee for writing the Denzel movie Flight, grew a tale of teen angst and the bitterness that drags adolescents together. When football star Jason (Red, Dacre Montgomery) gets detention with Kimberley (Pink, Naomi Scott) and Billy (Blue, RJ Cyler), they’re led to the local goldmine where they meet Trini (Yellow, Becky G) and Zack (Black, Ludi Lin) and find their power coins. Forced to train by Zordon (Bryan Cranston, perfect voice, perfect head) until they achieve morphing, the teens prepare to battle Rita Repulsa and her monster Goldar.
Spare a respectfully portrayed Spectrum character in Billy, the teens are a bit unbearable in their rising exposition. Each has problems, and Gatins hardly can wait to spill the beans. Their treatment of queer characters and sarcastic humor add some pleasant laughs and appreciative nods, even though the armor could have appeared a bit earlier. Somehow the team’s development is both subtle and blunt. Banks chews the scenery with every line which is exactly what you’d hope for. Her gold obsessed alien is creepy, and the makeup teams created an impressive physical progression for the character. Bill Hader as Alpha 5 was a good throwback; the “Ai-Yi-Yi” catchphrase works perfectly from him, and the varied golem constructions used as Rita’s pawns The Putties are far superior to the lycra body suits from the 90s. Finally, adding in the special effects removes the cheese factor! Throw in some cheer-worthy references (opening sequence Zord reproduction may the theater explode), and you have a fan film the nineties kids with thoroughly enjoy.
Next up, Leonardo DiCaprio and Glen Powell have rights/writes for Captain Planet. We’ll see how that goes (Shane, we’ll complete your script and give it to Judy the Bear; Leo listens to her).