Thursday, June 8, 2017

Films of 2017: "Power Rangers"


Trailers for Lionsgate's update of "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" earlier this year had the six-year-old in me geeking out. I remember the original series when it premiered on the Fox Kids' Network in the early-Nineties, and thought it was one of the coolest things I've ever seen on T.V. (aside from the Batman animated series and pretty much anything on Nickelodeon back then). And while this gritty and exciting update has some of that same nostalgic vibe in the final cut (the suits and Zords are super cool), it does lack depth and cuts at a mildly-rushing pace, particularly in its first two-thirds.

Most of the film is spent with its engaging though rebellious cast of teenage characters, who come from different backgrounds, even which some of them question. Topics amongst them range from familial conflict, relationships, athletic disappointment, and even sexual identity--some deep stuff for what is essentially a kids' action series. The plot follows them as the come across an old land mine and find five mysterious coins that eventually give them superpowers. (Okay, you know where this is going.) And while the story is mostly predictable, the diversity in the main cast is an added bonus, as eccentric robot Alpha 5 implies, "Different colored coins. Different colored kids."

Speaking of the cast, RJ Cyler (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, 2015) steals the movie as Billy the Blue Ranger, along with the perfect casting of Bryan Cranston as Zordon, Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa, and a surprising new spin on Alpha 5 from Bill Hader. Overall, while the six-year-old in me did root at moments (such as during surprise cameos from some of the original "Rangers"), the final cut follows in the same cinematic footsteps as Transformers and Batman Begins before it. If there's a sequel, hopefully there's more "morphin' time" in its script than in its style.

(l-r) RJ Cryer (Billy), Naomi Scott (Kimberly), Ludi Lin (Zach),
Becky G. (Trini), and Dacre Montgomery (Jason) 

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