‘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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