POWER RANGERS arrived exclusively to Amazon Prime on March 9th, so reviewer Darren Schmidt sat down to see how they did in bringing the beloved Rangers to the modern era.
As I sit to write this review, I realize that it has been 20 years since the last time I saw the POWER RANGERS. When I think of the show, the big things I remember are a lot of action, amazing dubbed Japanese action sequences featuring mega robots and growing monsters bent on destroying a small town in California named Angel Grove…. for some reason. While this movie hits on all those big points and starts off and ends with very enjoyable action sequences, the middle suffers from drawn out character development sequences that slow down the action and make this movie’s two hours feel a lot closer to three.
Originally released in 2017, POWER RANGERS features a solid cast led by Dacre Montgomery as Jason the Red Ranger, Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa and Bryan Cranston as Zordon. The rest of the cast does a great job as well, namely RJ Cyler as Billy the Blue Ranger, whose humor carries a lot of the first part of the film. The film also starts Becky G, Naomi Scott and Ludi Lin as the Pink, Yellow and Black rangers, respectively. Also not to be missed is Bill Hader’s hilarious performance as Zordon’s robot companion Alpha-5. While Bill Hader, Elizabeth Banks and Bryan Cranston all put in good work, especially Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa, we do not get enough of them in their approximately 15-20 minutes of airtime combined.
In what I felt was a strong start to the film, we finally learn the origin of Zordon, the mysterious floating head offering guidance to the Rangers. Zordon was the Red Ranger of his time, the leader of the Rangers and protector of Earth in the Cenozoic era. Another Ranger, the Green Ranger Rita betrays him and the rest of the Rangers in an attempt to dominate the world. You know, like villains do. Zordon survives the initial onslaught and hides the 5 coins, the power source of the Rangers. He tells Alpha-5 to initiate a meteor strike that kills him and most of the life on the planet, including the Dinosaurs. Yes, it’s THAT meteor. While a little cheesy, I’d say it take some serious bravado to include the extinction of the dinosaurs in your origin story. Rita is thrown to the bottom of the ocean and separated from her coin, ending her attack… for the time being.
We are then brought to current day Angel Grove, California, where Jason is leading the police on a Dukes of Hazzard style chase after a prank involving stealing and ahem, milking, a bull goes wrong. This leads to a series of events that bring the five together in a quarry, where Billy blows up a large rock and reveals the Power Coins encased in a glass wall. How this young autistic teenager obtained enough explosives to do this is not explained and everyone is generally not too concerned. They flee after chipping the coins out of the wall, immediately being hit by a train. They all wake up at home, realizing the coins have given them incredible strength. This is always my favorite part of any superhero movie, and it almost always contains a sink being broken in half on accident. They meet back up at the quarry and are trying out their powers when they discover Zordon’s ship buried deep in a ravine. He and Alpha-5 train the Rangers to fight Rita and save their city.
The movie certainly has it’s high points, such as the a stellar performance of Rita Repulsa by Banks, the comedy of Alpha-5’s Bill Hader and a decent storyline that remembers the original Rangers lore but chooses to change it where necessary. While respected, the lore does not inhibit the story’s evolution into the modern day. Unfortunately for the film, I felt like it was an origin story without enough action and story progression. The iconic Ranger armor is only seen in the last 20 minutes of the film, which is understandable to the story but unacceptable for longtime fans that just wanted to see the Rangers in action again. The pacing of the film also slows down dramatically after about the first 30 minutes, leaving us in a drag for the next hour and ten minutes until the ending fight sequence that we all came to see.
The original Rangers show worked on a very strict formula. Rita would send down a foe for the rangers to fight. The Rangers would almost defeat the monster, then Rita would make it grow and they they would call the Zords to form the MegaZord and defeat the monster, foiling Rita’s plans. This movie does deliver on that formula at the very end, in a sequence that lasts about as long as the show did 20 years ago. I feel like this is a good origin story and introduction to the Rangers, but ultimately could have been well served with more action and an earlier introduction to the power suits. All in all, it’s a watchable movie that leaves me hopeful for the next in the series that should provide a faster route to the action that Rangers fans know and love. Be sure to check it out exclusively on Amazon Prime.
Go Go Power Rangers!