Review: 'Power Rangers' is a surprisingly good adaptation of a classic franchise

Marcus Goh
Contributor
Power Rangers (Kimberly French and Cathay-Keris Films)

Secret ending? YES!

Running time: 124 minutes (~2 hours)

Power Rangers (Tim Palen and Cathay-Keris Films)

“Power Rangers” is an American superhero drama in English. It is based on the “Power Rangers” franchise, specifically the first season of the TV show, which was adapted from scenes from a Japanese TV series.

The film revolves around five teenagers who gain special powers to fight evil space aliens. However, using these powers will not be as easy as it seems.

“Power Rangers” is directed by Dean Israelite, with a screenplay by John Gatins. The story is by Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Michele Mulroney, and Kieran Mulroney. It stars Dacre Montgomery (Red Ranger/Jason Scott), Naomi Scott (Pink Ranger/Kimberly Hart), RJ Cyler (Blue Ranger/Billy Cranston), Becky G (Yellow Ranger/Trini), Ludi Lin (Black Ranger/Zack), Bill Hader (voice of Alpha 5), Bryan Cranston (Zordon), Elizabeth Banks (Rita Repulsa), Fred Tatasciore (Goldar/Putty Patrollers), with cameos by Jason David Frank and Amy Jo Johnson. It is rated PG-13.

Power Rangers (Lionsgate and Cathay-Keris Films)

When I left the cinema, a fellow reviewer joyfully gushed about how the film was a pretty good one in its own right. And in a world where film adaptations can go south so easily, “Power Rangers” stands out as one of the better adaptations in the recent years. It retains enough elements of the source material that it’s recognisable and fun, while updating certain elements to better fit with modern sensibilities. It takes what is, honestly, a rather fantastical premise and weaves all its disparate elements into a consistent and believable whole.

Power Rangers (Lionsgate and Cathay-Keris Films)

Highlights

Compelling origins for all the Rangers

The film delves into the human origins of all five Rangers by showing us their backstories. While it’s a bit of a stretch to say that they all have legitimate motivations for being superheroes, they are fleshed out well enough that you can see why they would want to don the mantle of being Power Rangers. There’s little hackneyed dialogue and some of them deal with morally grey but relatable issues. It’s a good yarn that keeps you interested for the first half of the film, especially when there are few special effects to be seen.

Power Rangers (Lionsgate and Cathay-Keris Films)

Elizabeth Banks is a snarky Rita Repulsa

Rita Repulsa could have gone very, very wrong, given her hammy origins and the fact that, well, she’s an evil space witch. But Elizabeth Banks manages to imbue Rita with a snarkiness that’s reminiscent of the original, while dialling back on the cackles that would have made her a very unthreatening character. Rita isn’t the most dangerous of villains, but her sarcastic demeanour makes her fun to watch.

Power Rangers (Lionsgate and Cathay-Keris Films)

Everyone gets character development

Almost every character gets character development, which means that none of them are deus ex machinas. They have their own struggles to overcome, and like all good stories, the fate of the world rests on the ability of the characters to resolve personal conflicts. There’s almost always a plot purpose for character actions and motivations, which makes for surprisingly good storytelling.

Power Rangers (Lionsgate and Cathay-Keris Films)

Letdowns

Zack is cringeworthy

Zack (Ludi Lin) is the shallowest character among the bunch. In a film where everyone else is watchable, Zack stands out as an awful throwback to the characterisation of the 90’s series. He does get his own story and you find out more about his motivations, but he comes off as one of the most cringeworthy characters in the film. Zack’s not dislikable, just unbelievable.

Power Rangers (Kimberly French and Cathay-Keris Films)

Megazord looks aesthetically unappealing

The Megazord is the super robot that’s formed from the combination of the five Rangers’ Zords, which are dinosaur robots. While the individual Zords look pretty nifty, the Megazord itself is not as aesthetically pleasing as the rest of the Zords. In fact, it looks like it was designed by committee. There’s no really unifying look to the super robot, and it just seems like its design was a compromise among too many stakeholders.

Power Rangers (Kimberly French and Cathay-Keris Films)

“Power Rangers” is a surprisingly good adaptation of a classic franchise.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Yes.

Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? If you liked the “Power Rangers” television series, yes.

Score: 3.7/5

“Power Rangers” opens in cinemas:
– 23 March, 2017 (Singapore)
– 22 March, 2017 (Philippines)

Power Rangers (Kimberly French and Cathay-Keris Films)

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter, having written for Police & Thief, Incredible Tales, Crimewatch, and Point of Entry. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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