Really Late Movie Review: Power Rangers (2017)

Date: 25 July 2019

It’s time for another Really Late Movie Review. This time it’s the surprisingly enjoyable Power Rangers (2017).

The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV show aired when I was in high school. I watched it for the martial arts and Amy Jo Johnson. (I was a teenager and she was hot.) It was super cheesy but fun to put on in the background while I did my homework.

I remember seeing the first Power Rangers movie many years ago. The movie was okay but the CGI made me long for the costumes and models of the TV show. It was all downhill from there for Power Rangers movies. As bad as the effects were, the acting in the later movies was worse. So, it was with some trepidation that I finally got around to seeing Power Rangers.

The basic premise is the same as the show. Five teenagers are given powers to stop an impending threat. The difference is that I actually care about the teens in the movie. There is more character development (for four of the Rangers) in two hours of movie than almost all of the TV show. (Zach, the Black Ranger, never really gets anything beyond “daredevil adrenaline junkie.”)

The writers decided turn the group into the Power Rangers: Breakfast Club edition. I haven’t, generally, been a fan of “dark and gritty” reboots. In this case, it worked. The change gave their eventual decision to become heroes emotional weight.

One of the most amazing things about Power Rangers was the portrayal of Rita Repulsa. In the show, Rita very loud and even more whiney. Every word that came out her mouth was like fingernails on a chalkboard. I was thrilled when they added new villains because it meant less Rita.

Elizabeth Banks’ performance, in this movie, gave Rita a sense of menace and insanity. Even when she drops the classic line “Make my monster grow!” it’s dripping with impending doom rather than cheese.

The effects were pretty good but not amazing. The Rangers’ early tests of their powers looked super fake. The Zords looked good but they never looked like they had the mass they should have.

One thing the movie lacked was the absolute cheesiness of the show. (Okay, there was one super cheesy shot of the Zords charging into battle with the old “Go go Power Rangers” theme playing that was 100 percent fan service.) This was a serious attempt to tell the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers story and it worked for me.

Honestly, I think one of things that hurt the movie most was the legacy of suck created by the previous movies. Power Rangers was a fun movie that couldn’t quite pull free from that legacy. I would love to see more stories with these characters but it’s not going to happen.

Nerdist News is reporting that a reboot might be in the works. If they can build on this, there’s potential for a successful series. I hope they can.