Friday, March 24, 2017

Power Rangers Review

Once again in Hollywood I find myself reliving my childhood. The second time this month, actually. In fact, if there's any TV show or movie from my childhood that hasn't either been remade or given another sequel, then I'm sure it's coming. I'm at a point in my life where my childhood was 20 years ago and that's a good milestone in the minds of Hollywood people to start redoing things. This time around, we're discussing the Power Rangers! If you're a 90's child like myself, I'm sure that the Power Rangers was one of the staples of your childhood, especially if you were a male that grew up in the 90's. I'm not being sexist there. It's just that Power Rangers mainly appealed to young boys. If Power Rangers was a staple for your childhood, I'd also be willing to guess that your mom wasn't a huge fan of Power Rangers and in hindsight you probably don't blame her because watching Power Rangers makes you want to get in play fights with your siblings that sometimes turns into real fights if things get out of hand. But either you watched it anyways or your mom grudgingly let you enjoy. I can't say I was ever super deep into Power Rangers, but I certainly thought it was a lot of fun. The type of cheesy, dumb fun that you can sit back and enjoy because the show knows what it is.

When I heard that Power Rangers was getting the remake treatment, I immediately became nervous simply because Transformers and G.I. Joe were also fun shows that got absolutely butchered with their recent movie remakes. If I'm going to be forced to relive my entire childhood on the big screen, I want justice to be done. It doesn't need to be as good necessarily, but I want to walk out of the theater pleased and given that the Transformers movies have turned into complete abominations and the G.I. Joe movies aren't much better, I really didn't want Power Rangers to suffer the same fate. But when the trailers started coming out, I began having nightmares because it seemed as if my fears were going to be realized. I hated the trailers. I was crossing my fingers that the movie would turn out better than what was being advertised, but I didn't have much hope. Now to be clear, I wasn't requiring perfection out of this. The original Power Rangers were very cheesy and dumb, but the reason why the show worked so well is because they were very self-aware and they knew who their target audience was and they embraced all of it. That's all I wanted here. Cheesy, dumb fun, not over-bloated cinematic torture that people like Michael Bay think will be fun.

The result for me was very mixed. We can essentially split this movie into three different parts where my emotions towards each part were completely different. So let's start with part one. Horrendous. Awful. Bad. Cringeworthy. I absolutely hated the first third of this movie, which is strange because a lot of the reviews I've watched and read said the first part was the only part that really worked. I think it's safe to say that most people know about the Power Rangers, yet for some reason the filmmakers here decided they needed to start from ground zero and spend two-thirds of their movie going into an in depth origin story about how the kids in this movie become Power Rangers as if this was a new concept that they were introducing and there was no need for that at all. I'm very picky with my origin stories, especially when it comes to an origin story that we all know. It's like the Batman and the Spider-Man origin stories. We get it. We've seen it a hundred times. Don't do it again. If you go into this movie expecting a fun filled Power Rangers action movie from beginning to end, you're not going to get it because they don't even morph into their suits until the final act. I understand the need to spend some time setting up, but this movie dragged the setup way too far and I didn't like.

I especially didn't like the first half of our setup. Our group of five kids that I assume are young adults in real life and not actual teenagers I think do a fine job and I'll get more into them in a second, but the problem here is the screenplay. The movie is essentially a high school drama with a group of misfit teenagers that experience every cliché in the book for these movies. We have the high school quarterback that ruined his football career with a series of dumb mistakes that don't even make sense. We have the kid this is a social outcast due to his lack of social skills. We have the useless bully who's an idiot for no real reason. We have the girl who gets rejected by her girlfriends and decides to cut her hair with scissors in the bathroom, which magically gives her the sexiest hair in the school. We have the new girl in school that can't fit in with everyone else. Then we have the Asian dude who, well, we don't learn much about until later. Not only is there zero creativity with this setup, but it's also executed in the most horrifically painful way possible that makes it a whole heck of a lot worse than just about every other teenage drama out there. Most of this consists of painfully awful dialogue and decisions that are either super convenient to the plot or straight up dumb.

Not helping this at all is the attempted humor in the film. If you've seen the final trailer and cringed as much as I did at that, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. But in the movie it's even worse and even comes close to Transformers 2 level of awful humor that is super dirty and unfunny. It's not quite as bad as Transformers in that aspect, but there are some moments where I cringed in my seat at what was happening. There was also a lot of other humor that, while not cringeworthy or dirty, just fell flat. There were many attempted jokes where I thought to myself that it seemed like they trying to be funny, but I didn't even crack a smile. And while I'm on the subject of Transformers, we also had to do our best to sexualize the females in the movie. I mean, why did we have to show our main teenage girl strip down to her underwear and dive into the lake? And why did Elizabeth Banks' villain have to wear weird, skimpy outfits for the entirety of the film? I don't understand. And on top of all of that, the movie had no idea what tone it wanted to take. It tried to balance being super serious with being super cheesy and instead of getting the right balance, they just fumbled the tone the entire film and even had out of place horror moments with the introduction of our villain.

So yeah, this wasn't going well at all for me. I hated our kids. I hated the setup. I hated the humor. I hated the undecided tone. I hated the dialogue and most of the screenplay in general. I was painfully sitting in my seat just hoping for the movie to go by quick and put me out of my misery so I could go home and completely trash it as a worthless piece of garbage that deserves to flop hard. But then something happened. I don't know if there was one defining moment where the movie turned from completely awful to tolerable or even good at some moments, but I think it was a gradual thing. We started off painfully awful, but the movie got slowly less and less painful to the point where I was enjoying the drama that was taking place with these kids. They still hadn't become Power Rangers, but they started to connect as a group and gain a lot of chemistry. Then there were moments of honest emotion where they opened up to each other about their life and experiences and I got all of the honest feel-goods with this group of kids that showed me that sometimes in life we feel like outcasts, but if we look deep inside ourselves, we can gain a sense of belonging. Suddenly I didn't hate these kids. In fact, I actually really loved them as a group. I was excited for them to become the Power Rangers and fight this evil villain!

And then we have our final transition of emotion as we head into the final act. I suppose I won't give any spoilers, although being that this is a Power Rangers movie, there's really nothing to spoil. But after getting through two acts of setup, the first act of which I hated while the second half being truly good, this is where the movie finally becomes a Power Rangers movie. It's dumb, predictable and cheesy, but kinda fun. And it brought back a lot of nostalgia to my days watching the show. I mean, if we're being honest with ourselves, every episode of the Power Rangers has the exact same plot and formula and the movie follows that to a "t" in order to pay tribute and make fans like me happy. And I kinda dug it. Rita Repulsa wants to destroy the world and the Power Rangers, but starts by sending a giant monster thing to the small town that the rangers live in and they have to go fight it. Elizabeth Banks plays our useless, throwaway villain that has zero depth, but she plays the character in such an over-the-top way that she's practically in a different movie. The kids in the movie are trying to make a name for themselves while she's just taking a break and having fun for a film. I can't blame her for this, but I wasn't madly in love with her villain. Although there's also been worse.

Overall, if you're a Power Rangers fan, I think this movie is worth seeing because there will at least be parts of the film that you really enjoy. In giving a final grade, this is really difficult because this is the tale of three movies. I went from feeling like I was experiencing a living Hell to really enjoying the journey our kids were going on to being mildly entertained and nostalgic at our ending when this finally became a Power Rangers. If this does well enough to get a sequel, I honestly think the sequel will be much better now that this setup is out of the way and I finally grew to enjoying our cast of kids. The movie is thankfully better than most of our Transformers movies and far superior to both of the G.I. Joe disasters that happened. A perfect comparison might be the recent Ninja Turtles movies that I didn't love, but also didn't hate as much as I thought I would and was even entertained at times, especially during the sequel. That's the level of quality we're looking at here, for better or for worse. Other random tidbits, I didn't care for Bryan Cranston's Zordon or Bill Hader's Alpha 5, but I kinda loved the purposefully over the top Krispy Kreme product placements that surprisingly became essential to the plot. For my final grade, I think a fair average would be to give "Power Rangers" a 6/10.

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