Director Dean Israelite re-imagines Saban’s popular 90’s after school phenomenon and captures the spirit of the original while developing it’s own thing for a new generation.
Jason, Kimberly, Zack, Billy and Trini are back but only in a familiar name capacity. These kids are a new crop of youths who meet unexpectedly when kid genius Billy (RJ Cyler) unwittingly brings everyone together when he blows up a section of a mine he used to visit with his dad. Having enlisted Jason (Dacre Montgomery), the former star football player who disgraced himself by getting caught on a senior prank, the duo bring their actions to the attention of other kids also trespassing in the same area including wild card Zack (Ludi Lin), reformed mean girl Kimberly (Naomi Scott) and loner Trini (Becky G). They all rise to their archetypes while starting to give us the complexities of being a teen.
While some influence has been taken from the Breakfast Club, these kids do seem like the unlikely friends that would end up together. It’s relatable for anyone who has a diverse friend group or had one growing up.
Though of course, not all of us are brought together by magical power coins that give superhuman strength.
After surviving quite an incident after finding and connecting with each of their corresponding coin color, they begin to realize that they’ve been brought together for a reason. It’s cheeseball in the way the show was but with the charisma of the cast, it’s believable. Cycer as Billy is the heart of the crew who fights to bring everyone close in his standout performance. Some of the most unbelievable circumstances they find themselves in are ridiculous to everyone watching and everyone in the group–save Billy but Cyler sells the heck out of that kid’s motivations and earnest willingness to believe that they’re meant for a great destiny as Power Rangers when an Alien robot and a disembodied face on the wall tells them.
The robot being of course Alpha Five (Bill Hader) and the floating head of Zordon (Bryan Cranston) who also inform them that a wicked ex-ranger has risen from the sea to seek out revenge and a crystal in their town of Angel Grove, giving us a new backstory for the villainess we know as Rita Repulsa. Elizabeth Banks relishes the role while keeping true to the original characters outrageous nature while also creating her own take that’s powerful and as scary as she can be hilarious. One minute she’s sucking the life out of people and the next she’s scarfing down gold. The commitment to the camp is awesome and some of the choices in the film felt quirky in a way that will speak to kids now like the choices in the 90’s spoke to kids then.
There are so many moments in the film that will elicit extreme excitement for hardcore fans who grew up with the show while endearing us to the new kids who have to earn their way into the suits. Making it so they have to form a connection with one another before they can fully morph is a smart take on a team’s journey. They weren’t just thrown together to be heroes, they had to accept themselves and each other in the process to unite against a threat to their town. And the new kids truly embody the journey and you feel about them the same way you did about the OG rangers. They’re friends and you want to be their friend thanks to the actors ability to key into what it’s like to be a teen and grow. The equality among them was awesome and the girls stood on equal footing with the dudes–alien adapting breast plates and all. (Psst…it’s not gonna hurt them or get in their way if the suit moves like a second skin and what girl doesn’t like boobage support?)
And while yes, there are some very new filmmaker moments in regards to coming a little short on fleshing some of the concepts out completely and too much of a reliance on CG, this first installment of a Power Rangers series is one to watch and one we can look forward to see evolve and improve. It has key ingredients that can only progress in very interesting progressive and inclusive ways. Including a character on the Autism spectrum and one who is figuring out their sexuality is real and something that while it’s not deeply exploratory on those themes, is a step in the right direction for representation in genre.
Also THE EASTER EGGS ROCK!
Anyone who doesn’t get this film or writes it off cause they’re older than 90’s kids can kindly step off because they’re the reason we have endless Transformers movies that are utterly tone deaf and mechanically heartless as well as a series about a spy who can apparently only be a European white male with continuous reboots of his basic novels.
Go! Go! See Power Rangers TODAY!!!