Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Power Rangers (2017)

Plot: The film focuses on five teenagers who are all experiencing troubles in their lives. Jason is a former football player who is kicked off the team after a failed prank against another school, Billy is autistic and is in trouble for causing an explosion in school (at least I think that's who he explained it), Kimberly is taken out of the cheerleading team after leaking an inappropriate footage of one of her teammates, Trini has been kicked out of three other schools and Zack is a school truant. One night, Billy destroys a part of an abandoned gold mine attracting the attention of the other four kids and they all discover the Power Coins and eventually an ancient ship where they meet Alpha 5 and Zordon who tell them they are the Power Rangers and they need to learnt o use their new abilities to stop Rita from destroying the world.

The key thing to bear in mind with this review is that I never grew up with Power Rangers. I wanted to watch it when I was little, bit I wasn't allowed. Most of my understanding of the franchise comes from Doug Walker's Nostalgia Critic reviews for the first two movies which looked pretry bad judging on his videos about them. When a reboot was announced, I was interested to see it and then I officially decided to go see it when my buddy, Santiago, asked that I watch and review it. So after seeing the movie I can honestly say... the first half was surprisingly the strongest part. No joke. This is one of those rare occasions where watching the hero(es) before they suit up was the most entertaining aspect of the movie, and I mainly mean that in a good way.

So how are the Power Rangers more interesting without their uniforms? Well, the kids themselves are interesting. If you've seen the trailers for this film, you know that they are aiming for the rangers to be actual outcasts in society like they apparently are supposed to be in the original franchise (or so I've heard,) and in my opinion, it pays off.  They all have their own interesting personalities and relatable flaws, and even if some aspects about them are stereotypical like the jock who losses his fame as high school sports star or a guy who lives with his sick mother that he takes care of, you can tell they're giving us these cliches with a certain amount of effort to them. A lot of that comes from the actors themselves who you can tell they're giving it their all. The best example who is the heart of the group in my opinion is Billy. Billy is the most interesting and likable character in the group, though part of that comes from the fact that he is actually autistic. As someone with autism, I can say that he delivers the concept of being sometime high functioning in a well delivered and relatable manner. It's not something that doesn't  add much like the kid that might have Asperger's Syndrome in Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, he's showing us someone with Autism in a tasteful and likable fashion. I didn't expect to see that in this film in a relatable way, but I suppose that makes the blue ranger my favorite now. But even taking Billy aside, the other team members are likable too. The film takes its time to show the five of them starting to grow as friends and ultimately as teammates and that was surprisingly nice to watch.

So why did the second half not grab me the way the first half did? Well part of it had to do with a scene where something happens to Billy that is dramatic but it could easily been solved, but it's mainly because when the kids finally become the Power Rangers, the rest of the film reminds me why the franchise never grabbed me the same way something like The Transformers or Marvel has. From what I understand, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is a franchise where the fans embrace how cheesy and silly it can be. If that's the case, then the second half does a really good job in embracing the tone of the source material. From the moment they're in their uniforms and charging into battle with their Zords, I keep looking at what is happening feeling that this would be more fun if I was a fan, but because I'm not I can't any of this seriously.  Some parts of the action is cool, like when they merge onto Megazoid and fight Goldar was neat to watch,  but apart from that, I felt very disconnected from all the corny tone.

In fact that's another flaw with the film, the tone between both halves of the film are so different from each other that it king of feels like two different movies. Even with Rita, the villain, she makes a big switch from being really creepy to completely over-the-top. I suppose she's more faithful to the material when she's screaming orders to her minions like the character probably does in the show, but it's not doing anything for me as a non-fan.

And that's my review for Power Rangers. The first half where they are these troublesome kids on top of learning to be Power Rangers is done with a lot of effort that I think is very admirable. But the second half is just corny to watch which is great if you are a fan and for sticking true to the source material, but is a major tone change from the first half and will not interest you if you aren't a fan. It's not the best, but at the end of the day, I'm glad I saw it for the first half and some of the action and I think it's an admirable film all around given the franchise itself.

Rating: 60%

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