Tuesday 1 August 2017

Saban's Power Rangers ★★★☆☆

Oh where to start with this one…

In an age where seemingly every popular property from the 80s and 90s is being dragged kicking and screaming from the grave, it's surprising that it's taken this long for the Power Rangers to return to the big screen. But how did the Mighty Morphers perform on their grand return?

The Good

You’ll probably be able to guess the tone of this review when I tell you that Power Rangers wasn’t a complete travesty.

The film’s main feature worth commendation is its inclusion of disabled, LGBT+ and gender fluid characters within the primary ensemble. Although one could argue these issues are handled somewhat clumsily (Jason, the heroic Red Ranger and leader of the group is a straight, white male), the mere fact that movies of this ilk are bringing them to the forefront, without resorting to parody or exploitation is undeniably a step in the right direction.

You’ll also be relieved to know that the Megazord makes an appearance towards the film’s grand finale. The climactic battle is impressive enough (I should think so too given the movie’s reported $100,000,000 budget), however when we’ve had films such as Pacific Rim portray city-levelling mech battles with more gusto, it’s easy for the odd jaded cinephile to feel a tad let down.

It would be remiss not to mention that, yes, THAT theme music does make an appearance in Power Rangers. Despite the film’s many flaws, I could feel those rose-tinted spectacles rise firmly up my nose for this scene.

The Bad

The main criticism of the film is that it suffers from a blatant identity crisis. It’s far too adult for kids, with the implied ‘pleasuring’ of a cow kicking off the film in an exchange that would feel more at home Van Wilder.

Yet astonishingly on the other hand it still manages to be too childish for teens and adults; despite a few nods to the audience, it lacks the nostalgia and charm that maturing fans have been pining for. Played out tropes of teen angst and high school politics feel far too cliché, and it’s criminal how much screen time they take up in place of schlocky fight scenes.

The cherry on the turd sundae that is Power Rangers was the offensively obnoxious product placement. However much money the studio made by shoehorning in a Krispy Kreme advert to the final, climactic battle, it wasn’t enough.

The Verdict

Ultimately expectations for Power Rangers were curbed at best, and in retrospect quite correctly. Although director Dean Israelite must be applauded for presenting a culturally and ethnically diverse group of Rangers, if you peel back the veneer, you’re left with yet another lazy cash-in on a beloved property. Power Rangers felt like a lazy clone of Transformers, but astoundingly even more vapid.


Sir Thomas Baker

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