Wow, so this was a surprise…
*** WARNING: Spoilers Ahead ***
Due to our Cineworld cards, Kirsty and I go to films I wouldn’t have paid a single pound to see, let alone ten of them. It’s safe to say that Power Rangers was one of these films. At the end of the day, it looked like an overly gritty reboot of something nobody was asking for, and whilst that’s probably what it still is, I was surprised by how good it actually is.
Now, don’t get me wrong, my taste hasn’t gone out the window, but I was willing to call this a good film… At least until the third act.
Let’s start from the top. The films first act starts by setting up its main characters, you have the high-school jock throwing away his career, the picked-on and bullied nerd, the hot, popular girl being abandoned by her clique, and two characters who don’t get fleshed out until later on. On paper it’s very run of the mill, paint by numbers, teenage drama. The only difference is, for me at least, I started to believe that these teenagers could actually be the Power Rangers… It actually made me take seriously a premise I fully expected to snidely chuckle to myself about, whilst simultaneously looking down my nose at the rest of the cinema going audience (Who turned out to consist purely of children and parents, by the way, Kirsty and I were the oldest people there that didn’t have kids). Sure, these teens were fairly cliché, but I could get behind their journey of ‘overcoming personal differences, internal conflicts, and coming together as a team’.
That first act, in my eyes, works. I found myself enjoying it, and what more could you want? I was enjoying it enough that I laughed at the silly humour, that I could accept and overlook the teenage angst. I enjoyed it enough that when the second act rolls round with training montages, lessons in comradary, and a dumping of heart-felt backstory I was invested in the film. Then the third act comes along…
The films third act is undoubtedly its weakest, and it’s sadly also that act when the Power Rangers gain their costumes and fight the big bad. It’s literally the climax of the film and it couldn’t feel more… Anticlimactic.
As I said before, if I’d left after the first two thirds I’d have actually said this was a good movie, but the final fight, the big battle, was just so bland. It wasn’t even passable, it was boring. There was no weight to any of the martial arts, no intense music, no peril, and when the ‘Zords’ are used they suffer from Michael Bay’s Transformers Syndrome, in that they’re trying to be so realistic they just look messy and uninteresting. This is the part kids have sat through two thirds of the movie to get to, and this is the part that simply fell flat. There were little nods here and there to the old series I remember fondly, a couple of locations and sound effects, but they were barely noticeable in the sheer dullness of this battle. The film spent almost two hours basically saying “This will be the fight to save the world; this fight will be awesome” and it just wasn’t. It was entirely forgettable, it was badly executed, and it soured what was actually going to be a very surprising hit for me.
Let me put it another way. The thing that lets Power Rangers down is actually the part where they are the Power Rangers… Yeh, let that sink in. The premise they’re trying to sell you on, the namesake of the whole entire franchise, is its weakest part. Unlike Marvels’ The Avengers, which is at its best when the Avengers are Avenging, the Power Rangers is let down when their cast don their costumes and get to the fighting. In fact, the Power Rangers just don’t have much ‘Power’.
I also have the to give the film credit for trying, even in a somewhat heavy handed way, of dealing with acceptance of some important issues and opting to make the Power Rangers ‘team’ an inclusive one. The cynical side of me thinks it’s trying to tick too many boxes, but I think it’s heart is in the right place and, hell, if it puts examples of Autism, and non-heterosexual relationships into a Hollywood film, good on it. It’s overall a good thing that a film attempts to diversify its main characters; it’s potential role models.
In fact, it made me proud that something kids were seeing was willing to tackle some difficult issues and sell a message of acceptance. The main issue is though, as much as I was enjoying the film, it didn’t really seem to be for kids at all. There was no action, as what little there was got saved for the end battle, and the film was undoubtedly too slow for younger audiences (A fair few in our screening upped and left). Surely that begs the question… Who was it all really for?
If this film was for my generation, the more serious nature, whilst still balancing the campier moments, would be a decent if unremarkable attempt to reboot a nostalgic franchise, but were we really asking for a high school drama about angsty teenagers? Couldn’t we have tipped the balance in favour of the campiness and had a film purely full of cheese factor? So, say the film was intended to sell a future generation on a ‘new’ franchise, did they want to sit two thirds into a film before getting to the, for want of a better word, ‘action’? Wouldn’t they want to spend more time just watching people kick ass and have the character arcs written in around it? I don’t know, maybe I’m speaking on behalf of a generation I’m out of touch with and kids these days have better attention spans (though it definitely didn’t seem that way for audience members around us).
All in all, it’s a hard film to truly recommend. It’s a film that adults will have undoubtedly seen done better elsewhere, telling stories they’re now too old for, whilst also being a film kids might find too boring, with messages that, while important for them to hear, aren’t made in an interesting enough way. It’s a film that doesn’t know what it wants to be and, like with it’s mixing of tone, tries to balance too much to no avail. In the end, it’s a film I’ll be telling my friends to check out, at least when it’s out on DVD, and it’s a fairly ok Sunday afternoon watch.
Also, the Megazord looked pretty cool, so props for that.