Power Rangers (2017)
Director: Dean Israelite
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cycler, Becky G., Ludi Lin, Bill Hader, Bryan Cranston & Elizabeth Banks
Released by: Lionsgate
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Revitalizing the television phenomenon for the big-screen, Power Rangers centers on five ordinary teens, chosen by destiny, to form a superhuman team of defenders to save the world from the evil Rita Repulsa’s wrath. Dean Israelite (Project Almanac) directs from a screenplay by John Gatins (Real Steel, Flight).
Marking the famous franchise’s return to cinemas in two decades, Power Rangers uses the original and arguably, most popular iteration of the series as a springboard to reintroduce modern audiences and longtime fans back to an Angel Grove in desperate need of heroes. Establishing an apocalyptic world where the Power Rangers, led by Red Ranger Zordon (Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad), are losing the battle against their former friend and betrayer Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks, The Hunger Games), the fading leader seeks to preserve the safety of the desired Zeo Crystal by hiding the coveted power coins in hopes of a new team one day emerging to protect Earth. Juxtaposing to modern day Angel Grove, high school football star turned delinquent Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery, A Few Less Men) pulls an unruly prank, landing him in detention for the rest of the school year. Shortly after befriending bullied and autistic classmate Billy Cranston (RJ Cycler, Me and Early and the Dying Girl), Jason is convinced to join Billy at a mine site where an explosion and chance encounters with several other troubled teens including, Kimberly (Naomi Scott, The 33), a former popularity queen now ditched by her friends, Zach (Ludi Lin, Monster Hunt), a wild teen tasked with caring for his ailing mother and Trini (Becky G., Empire), a loner struggling with her own sexuality, converge in an experience that will change their lives. Discovering the hidden power coins and the nerve center of Zordon, now constrained to its matrix system, and his faithful robot Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader, Inside Out), the teens are appointed as new members of the Power Rangers and must prepare for the inevitable threat of their awakened nemesis, Rita Repulsa. Learning to trust one another and believe in themselves prove difficult as the fate of Angel Grove and the world hang in the balance against the forces of evil.
Darker than its bubble gum pop series but never overly brooding, Power Rangers greatly impresses with its diverse up and coming cast that convey relatable teenage troubles with organic conviction. Noticeably influenced by the works of John Hughes with so few modern day attempts at capturing youthful voices succeeding, Power Rangers is the rare feat that does so and genuinely makes audiences care through deep character development that, for better or worse, comes at the cost of more high-octane action. While their self-doubts restrict them from morphing into their costumed counterparts for an extended period, the film’s final act finds the the heroes finally adorned in their eye-catching armored suits to do battle against the bolder-looking Putties and Rita’s visually disappointing henchman, Goldar. Although a shameless product placement opportunity rears its head into the plot, Elizabeth Banks delivers an enjoyably over-the-top and occasionally frightening performance as lead baddie Rita while, the city-destructing climax of the Rangers facing off in the mighty Megazord is nothing audiences haven’t seen before. Minor grievances aside for the film’s action set pieces which unfortunately seem to have caused the ballooning $100 million budget, Power Rangers is a surprisingly fresh and energetic effort that although, based on the nostalgically campy series of the same name, takes itself and its audience seriously while having a morphinominally fun time doing it.
Lionsgate presents Power Rangers with a striking 1080p transfer, preserving its 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Exceptional-looking from start to finish, skin tones are naturally pleasing and detailed while, black levels seen during nighttime sequences at the mine appear deep and inky. Digital manifestations such as, Alpha 5 and the literal looking Goldar all dazzle with the bolder colors of the rangers suits and Rita’s shimmering green garb leaping off the screen. Without a false note to report, Power Rangers morphs into action with the utmost clarity. Equipped with an equally perfect Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix, dialogue is crystal clear with action scenes from the rangers’ training montages to the film’s final zord battle filled with explosive action greatly impress with grand authority. Furthermore, song selections including, a contemporary rendering of the infamous theme song, all make noticeable statements on the track that push speakers to work overtime.
Special features include, an Audio Commentary with Director Dean Israelite & Writer John Gatins, The Power of Present (2:20:12), a comprehensively morphin’ nine-part featurette that looks back at the franchise’s early years to this film’s culmination. Insight from original series creator Haim Saban as well as the cast and crew are on-hand while, the development of the film’s costumes, the cast’s intensive training and music are all explored in this perfect companion piece to the feature. Also included, Deleted/Alternate/Extended Scenes (33:39), Outtakes (3:41) and the Theatrical Trailer with Audio Commentary by Director Dean Israelite (2:21). Lastly, an Also from Lionsgate (4:40) section offers trailers and promos for Power Rangers: Legacy Wars, The Hunger Games: Complete 4-Film Collection, Allegiant and Now You See Me 2. Additionally, a DVD edition and Digital HD Code are also provided.
Although struggling to be the massive moneymaker hoped for by the studio, Power Rangers may be the year’s biggest blockbuster surprise that balances the delicate line of respecting its franchise roots while injecting a youthful, harder-edged voice that lifelong fans will appreciate. Planned for a whopping six-film story arc and teasing the arrival of a certain character of the green persuasion, Power Rangers is hopefully only the beginning in a great new series that deserves more installments. Meanwhile, Lionsgate’s phenomenal high-definition release is a technical marvel with a staggering supply of bonus content ranger fans will eat up.
Available now from Lionsgate, Power Rangers can be purchased via LionsgateShop.com,
Amazon.com and other fine retailers.