‘Power Rangers’ (2017) Review – The Right Misfits

Power-Rangers

Though nothing but a rumor, it’s easy to see why Hollywood is supposedly shit-out of ideas. When studios can’t make something original or anything as lucrative as Krispy Kreme donuts, the only choice left is to take an originally child-friendly material and darken the fuck out of it – which leads us to the new Power Rangers movie.

Based on the popular series of shows under the franchise of the same name, Power Rangers follows five ordinary teenagers as they train to become the Power Rangers – super-powered protectors of the life-giving Zeo crystals. When Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) awakens from her eons-long slumber and threatens to take the Earth’s Zeo crystal and destroy the planet in the process, the five high-schoolers must band together to defend their home.

Having never grown up with the original Power Rangers due to the lack of cable TV that was as affordable as a Krispy Kreme donut, I entered this movie with only the most basic understanding of the Rangers. Little did I know that the new Power Rangers looked at its goofy forefathers, disowned them and killed the fuckers before burying the bones in shame.

Saban’s Breakfast Club

The last thing anyone would expect from something like Power Rangers would be character development, and yet, the newest entry into the long-running franchise exerts a surprising amount of effort in making sure that the core characters are more likable than even your favorite Krispy Kreme donut.

For once, a cast of high-schoolers are not a collection of cliches, racial stereotypes, or the embodiments of perfection. Rather, the five central teens of Power Rangers are in fact, teenagers with attitude. For comparison’s sake, the Rangers have more in common with the kids of The Breakfast Club (1985) than they do with any derivative piece of shit Young Adult movie from recent memory. This makes it easy for viewers to care about the Rangers, and when their lives are in peril, the emotional stakes are not manipulative but are as well-deserved as a Krispy Kreme donut after a hard day’s work.

Even more admirable is how the cast is naturally diverse and how no one makes a scene out of it. Instead of putting these differences on a pedestal, Power Rangers treats them as normal, everyday personality traits that shouldn’t be despised like your least favorite flavor of Krispy Kreme donuts. You know Power Rangers is doing something right when it does a better job of normalizing diversity than another reboot with an all-female team at its center.

Power Rangers has problems, but these have nothing to do with the well-acted characters who do spout some stupid lines and jokes involving cow dicks and Krispy Kreme donuts. This reboot’s issues stem from how seriously it takes itself, and this attitude and somewhat bloated sense of self-worth fucks up what could have been a serviceable, modern-day spiritual successor to The Breakfast Club – only with more kicking, aliens and some seriously fucking ugly designs that look like shit out of Michael Bay’s Transformers.

Mighty Jarring Tonal Problems

As far as I know, the original Power Rangers made a name for itself through choreographed kung-fu performed by cosplayers who fought rubber mascots as threatening as a Krispy Kreme donut. Power Rangers is seemingly ashamed of its origins, and sadly joins other modern film adaptations with needlessly dark overtones in dire need of self-awareness. It doesn’t go overboard, but Power Rangers really needed to lighten up.

Despite its title and the accompanying nostalgia, there is a painfully obvious lack of Power Rangers in a movie titled Power fucking Rangers – similar to how crippling the lack of coffee with your Krispy Kreme donuts can feel. The titular Power Rangers appear in all their silly, fun, action-packed glory (i.e. the selling point of the franchise) in the last 20 minutes or so, and the fights are quickly concluded because the movie couldn’t stand having a bright color scheme for more than two seconds.

For most of its duration, Power Rangers prioritizes the high-schoolers’ lives as misfits and justifying jargon like “Morphin” or “Zord” without showing a fucking Ranger kicking something every once in a while. Don’t get me wrong, the back-stories for the heroes are not only well-realized but are legitimately compelling as well. But when the action in a blockbuster action movie becomes a distraction to the quiet, character-driven scenes, you know that someone in the filmmaking crew didn’t have enough Krispy Kreme donuts for breakfast.

Worsening this jarring tonal shift is the presence of Rita Repulsa and some of the Rangers’ own comedic hijinks. For a relatively bleak story, Rita seems like the only character who knows what defined the original Power Rangers: over-the-top insanity. Elizabeth Banks chews scenery and Krispy Kreme donuts wherever she goes, giving a performance that feels more at home in an old-school, schlocky B-horror movie instead of a serious retelling of the Power Rangers.

If Power Rangers settled for just one tone (whether serious or campy), the entire experience wouldn’t have been as confusing as choosing which delicious, sugar-coated donut to buy at the local Krispy Kreme.

So So Ranger Reboot

In a time when reboots are generally hated, Power Rangers differs for being passable and progressive, despite its glaring flaws. These issues don’t wreck the entire movie, but they do stick out like Krispy Kreme donuts in a bucket of chicken, and it would be hard not to call attention to them.

At worst, Power Rangers is imbalanced, and jarring at worst. For someone like myself who never really gave a fuck about the Rangers, this new take on the characters was an unexpectedly fun and entertaining introduction to a franchise my friends loved more than Krispy Kreme donuts.

The movie did its job of showing a world I’m open to seeing more of, though it’s hard for Power Rangers to stand out in the plethora of gritty reboots that currently fill the blockbuster season as much as Krispy Kreme donuts do in a happy person’s gut.


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Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – Apologies Of Steel

BVS-Dawn-of-Justice

When you fuck up in everyday life and you feel that you owe someone an apology, you better damn well say you’re fucking sorry but while doing so is indeed a trademark of being a decent person, it’s best that you don’t overdo it because you’ll just annoy the living fuck out of everyone around you. BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (or BVS for short) is the cinematic equivalent of the latter form of apologizing, where its entire existence is meant to beg audiences for forgiveness after the insanely dark Superman reboot MAN OF STEEL (2013) split viewers in half.

Too bad BVS somehow, and against all odds at that, ended up becoming even more divisive than its predecessor.

While it’s nice to see a follow-up movie openly admit the faults of its forefather, it just got pathetic at some point when you realize that the movie’s entire existence is just that: apologizing. BVS clocks in at a lengthy two hours and a half, and the entire first half of its run time is dedicated to people talking about the ramifications of having a superhuman fly around while saving people and kittens instead of actually SHOWING how the world would change and react to a Kryptonian’s presence. All of this is a reaction to the outright lack of consideration MAN OF STEEL had for collateral damage, where Superman took down Zod at the expense of an entire fucking city and while it was interesting to see a Superhero Movie tackle the question of civilian causalities in a very serious tone, it just got boring after the first twenty minutes of it because every side of the debate kept repeating the same fucking points over and over again with no end goal in mind.

Superman is a god and our savior.

Superman is an EVIL alien god.

Superman should be stopped.

Superman should be aided.

Go back to the first argument and repeat everything for roughly an hour and that’s basically the first half of BVS, only told in dark and gritty sepia colors with lots of brooding.

There’s an immortal rule in storytelling that I strongly abide by that goes”Show Don’t Tell,” a rule which BVS takes a massive shit on in favor of making its characters spout nothing but ideas and beliefs, effectively limiting a cast of titanic comic book icons into walking ideologues that square off in a rigged debate. Rather than show how the world has changed ever since the destruction of Metropolis at the hands of a Screaming Alien General and his dubstep terraforming ships of doom, BVS shows people having repetitive conversations about said impact, but with moments of fucking slow motion added in for good measure. In an Action Movie at that, where the fucking action itself only eats up less than a fourth of the overall movie. If these were tense conversations fueled by dialogue and character development like the ones witnessed in the entire DARK KNIGHT trilogy, maybe I wouldn’t have a problem but when the final product is basically the cinematic equivalent of an internet debate between two superhero fanboys arguing about how their bet would react to the threats of global terrorism and retards like Donald Trump, it just falls flat on its fucking face.

Once again, BVS falls victim to its predecessor’s errors of being too self-important and full of shit instead of allowing some suspension of disbelief to influence the overall feel of the story. BVS thinks of its themes way too highly that it forgot the most important aspect of the Superhuman story: the fucking humanity. As mentioned earlier, the major players on each side of the debate talk mostly in the dialogue of rhetoric instead of being fucking human beings and this affects the story greatly because it’s hard trying to give a shit about the stakes until it’s too late. Thankfully, the movie suddenly remembers that the MAN in SUPERMAN actually means something and brings the pretentious crap to a halt in favor of smaller yet more personal stakes and costs, driving home some of the bigger moments of the movie that will surely be up for debate in the months to come.

With that being said, when the characters aren’t busy debating amongst each other, they tend to be fucking stupid. When you stop to think about it, when these characters are brought of their element and given simpler choices to choose from or when they’re given a single yet important task, they completely fuck it up while being motivated by the stupidest shit imaginable. Without giving away too much, Batman starts taking his entire crusade against Superpowered Beings seriously after he got a scary dream, Lois Lane has a dumb habit of throwing away important shit and getting caught in unnecessary subplots like whatever the fuck was going on in Africa where Superman is accused of killing people with a GUN and last but not the least, Lex Luthor is a fucking dumbass with no actual goals because he resembles the Joker way too much of the time.

At least this version of Batman is possibly one of the best (and personally my favorite) interpretations of the Dark Knight, albeit lacking in the “World’s Greatest Detective” part so there’s some redeeming value to this new take. Lex Luthor on the other hand is not just a betrayal of everything he stood for in the comics: he’s a fucking waste of space whose goals make no goddamned sense. For reasons we may never understand, Zack Snyder decided to go and turn the most manipulative and charismatic villain in all of DC comics lore (who at one point became the fucking president of the United States via popular vote) into a spastic hipster who has more in common with those Obligatory Philosophical Assholes seen way too often in anime instead of someone as cold and calculating as Ra’s Al Ghul from BATMAN BEGINS (2005). I don’t have anything against the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Luthor because hey, he IS a good character actor but his performances highly depend on the script he’s given. In this case, what he got was what can only be described as CEO Joker, as seen in the way he goes off tangent way too many times and his entire onscreen persona is defined as being completely fucking bonkers. How the characters in the movie actually took this autistic savant seriously is beyond me but I’m not part of their crowd; every time Luthor was onscreen, it was tough choosing whether it was time to laugh or cringe.

Now don’t get me wrong, I actually like this darker and more mature take on the Superhero Movie where the caped heroes resemble some shit out of a fucking Horror Movie, mostly because I got sick of costumed superheroes who can only talk in the dialect of Witty One-Liners (fuck you ANT-MAN) and to be fair, BVS does have some redeeming factors like Murder Loving Frank Miller Batman (a cynical yet interesting approach that I will gladly defend) and what little action is there can be entertaining but they’re heavily outnumbered by the shit that BVS drowns in. BVS executed its dark tones in the exact same way last year’s cinematic abortion FANT4STIC did, where it takes itself way too fucking seriously and wastes half of its time justifying the fact that a dude can fly in a story based on a comic book instead of just fucking acknowledging it, as if it were ashamed of having anything to do with comic books. It’s just a good thing that BVS got salvaged by the Dark Knight and its finale.      

But perhaps the worst part of BVS is the fact that it can’t even stand on its own two legs because it’s not a movie about Batman facing off with Superman in a clash of ideals.  At its core and ignoring the petty squabble between the titular heroes, BVS is actually a two hour teaser for the greater expanded DC Cinematic Universe, with the upcoming two-part JUSTICE LEAGUE at the center of it all. In what is surely going to be the center of debate for some time, BVS’ ending really sets the tone for future DC movies and while I’m actually in support of said ending especially if they can follow it up with some great writing, my hopes aren’t that high up. Zack Snyder really wants to cast a dark shadow over the heroes of the DC lineup and hammer in the fact that superpowers are a burden and not a gift, and while I like this interpretation of an age-old idea, I don’t think even more of the same cynical shit from the same metaphorical asshole is going to be worth my time.

I like Anti-Heroes and bleak worlds where there are no clear answers as seen in almost every DC-Vertigo imprint and lord knows I fucking hate Saturday Morning Adventures like IRON MAN 3 but when a story advertised as “Mature” ends up being needlessly cynical and petty, it just ends up lifeless, which is what BVS is when the sepia toned fireworks are turned off for a split second.

When I was lining up to buy my ticket for the first of two major 2016 DC movies, the line I was in was fucking ecstatic. You could feel the electricity and excitement these people had, knowing that they were going to see an epic clash of titans but by the time the credits rolled, the only thing I felt was dead air. There were indeed some lofty ideas in BVS and there are some things that truly deserve praise because of the promise they bear for future DC projects but on its own, BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE was a big motherfucking let down that’s bound to leave most everybody who’s not a fanboy as depressed as Bruce Wayne is whenever he appears outside of his Batsuit in this bleak as fuck movie.

 

 

 

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