Friday, March 24, 2017


Saban’s Power Rangers is the 2017 reboot/update of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers franchise. This film takes us all the way back to the beginning and tells the origin story of the Power Rangers and pits them up against classic villain Rita Repulsa as she attempts to end all life on Earth and become a galatic threat. The film is direct by Project Almanac director Dean Israelite and stars Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G., Bill Hader, Elizabeth Banks, and Bryan Cranston.

Walking into this film I had a great deal of excitement and concern. The Power Rangers are a neat concept that was never really well executed (especially in film). This could have been a colossal mess or it could have been fun. I’m thankful I can report it was the latter. Saban’s Power Rangers is a great update of the property, a great start to a new franchise, and a good time in the theater. Is the movie great? Absolutely not, but it delivered what it needed to to get me on board throughout.

The best thing about Israelite’s film is the characters. This film really paints the Rangers very clearly and manages to make you care about all of them. Borrowing thematically from The Breakfast Club and Chronicle, this film managed to really give you people in ways no Power Rangers property has done previously. What proved to me that this worked was the fact that most of the action in the film was compressed in the final act and I still left the theater thinking “I could have waited even longer to spend more time with these characters.”

In addition to the writing, construction, and direction of the characters, each is accompanied by a very strong performance. Montgomery, Scott, Cyler, Lin, and Becky G. all nail their roles as the various Rangers. They each bring an interesting emotional depth to what they’re doing and why they make the choices they do. There is one scene in the film that especially encapsulates the strength of each of these performances (particularly for Cyler, Lin, and Becky G.) that take this film to a different level than any other Power Rangers property has ever reached in years gone by.

Another small thing that really worked for me were the visual clues in this movie. It does a lot with color to give you hints as to who everyone would be (or is) that really worked and wasn’t over the top. Subtle articles of clothing, colored lights on their faces, and various other things gave you these hints throughout and really gave this a great visual style that kept your eyes glued to the screening and noticing a wonderful degree of craft put into the design of the film.

The last major positive I have for this film was that its humor largely landed and the film maintained a fun spirit throughout. The humor is something that could have killed this film based on the campiness we’ve seen in other Power Rangers properties. Thankfully that was not the case. This film knows when and how to make a competent joke and kept me smiling throughout. There is also one of the greatest product placements of all time in this film (I actually think this placement will be remembered alongside the likes of Reese’s Pieces in E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial or Wilson volleyballs in Cast Away). This frequently brought a certain meta-humor to the film that really worked and never made me feel overly cynical about the whole situation. I also thought that film maintained a real sense of fun throughout. This is definitely darker and more adult than the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers but it also knew to keep the tone largely upbeat. They even manage to get the classic (not-updated) 90s “Go Go Power Rangers” song into this film at the absolute perfect moment. All of this came together and really worked making me one happy viewer.

Saban’s Power Rangers is not remotely perfect however. For starters, I think some of the characterization is rushed. Just as I said I loved the characters I really wish we had more time with them individually before they are swept up into the main plot to get an even better picture of their background to understand and empathize with them further.

Additionally, the film really doesn’t deliver very well on the action. None of it looked bad (and seeing proper Zords on screen was very pleasing) per se, but it was never shot especially well and it just lacked the excitement it should have had. The hand to hand combat work with the Rangers was extremely limited and really didn’t deliver what one expects from a Power Rangers film. Additionally, the stronger Zord action was often hard to follow and Goldar (the main villain to the Zords) wasn’t tremendously compelling.

On the note of villains, I was not a huge fan of what Elizabeth Banks did with Rita Repulsa. I was absolutely on board with it for a while (and how it weaves into the story was extremely effective) but over the course of the film it was incredibly tonally inconsistent within itself and with the film at large. This robbed the film of some of the impact it should have had and Repulsa could really have been special but just wasn’t.

The last issue I had with this film was the editing. I really didn’t like the way it was pieced together. The film frequently built up tension and intrigue and then cut away from it for them all to go to their respective homes at the end of the day. This was practical, in a way, but it also frequently ruined moments I was getting into. It also edited in and out of things going on with Rita Repulsa throughout the film and it would cut in and out of these moments extremely quickly making it was uncomfortable to watch.

Overall I was pleased with what I got from Saban’s Power Rangers. The characters are great and the film was a lot of fun. It does have some issues with its action, villains, and editing but none of that was sufficient to really knock this film into the negative side of the ledger for me. This is definitely one to check out and a great way to kick off a new franchise!

Ryan’s Score: 6.5/10

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