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I’ll throw my arms up here, I’ve not really watched The Mighty Morphing Power Rangers. I was a kid of the ‘90’s, so I know that’s a kind of crime, I guess I was just more into the stuff on Disney mornings or CBBC. That and I thought it sucked. Whenever I did watch it as a kid I was bored and just turned it over. It really wasn’t the show for me. So, the announcement of a new movie wasn’t exactly tacking me to the edge of my seat and the screen of my computer. But I’m nothing if not an optimist, and I have found films like this that surprised me before (21 Jump Street comes to mind). So, I decided to finally dive in head first.
The Power Rangers Movie, I guess Mighty Morphing was a little too silly (which, yeah it is if we’re being honest), is about a group of five teenagers who discover five different coloured coins. These coins give them super strength, speed, agility (though not intelligence sadly) and the ability to grow an armoured skin, the armour of the Rangers of course. For these teens have just become the Power Rangers. And as the new defenders of planet Earth, they must stop villain Rita Repulsa from destroying the very life of Earth (or something like that) in her quest for power. But along the way the Rangers must battle something far more dangerous; their self-doubts, teenage angsts, the fact that they don’t fit in and the feeling of not becoming the people they want to be…that’s, actually quite profound for what is basically a mindless superhero blockbuster.
I didn’t have any hopes for this film going in, so imagine my surprise when I found myself really getting into these characters. The five teens who are to become the Rangers are actually really good characters. They all have attitudes and quirks; like one of them has Asperger syndrome, one of them is gay with homophobic parents, one skips school to care for his terminally ill mother and the other rebels because he’s sick of being seen as nothing more than the town golden-boy. But these quirks never feel like a quirk; it’s not like a Shyamalan film or a Joss Whedan show where the characters are defined by that one thing, these feel like actual people who have Asperger’s or are gay or feel the need to rebel. And their attitudes never grate and they don’t feel force or over-the-top, we all know the feelings that they are going through, and if you don’t then you will do one day and they play it perfectly. It’s not like Harry Potter, where he comes off as a whiny brat, this is understandable and, most importantly, relatable. I hope that these actors get more work from this because from what I’ve seen here, they could be phenomenal. It’s easily some of the best young adult character acting I’ve seen all year.
Alongside then, we also have our celebrity actors to spice things up. Brian Cranston (who apparently voiced some of the monsters in the show) plays Zordon, the great teacher of the Rangers. He’s mostly Cranston being Cranston, but Cranston is an amazing and awesome actor so I’m one to complain. Bill Hader voices this really annoying robot thing in the Rangers base, but to be fair he’s not in it long. And we have Elisabeth Banks as Rita, and I have a feeling she thought that this was going to be a very different film. Subtlety was only a mild suggestion here apparently, Banks over-plays every syllable and gesture. I do get it, this is what the acting in the original show was like and I’m sure Miss Banks saw this script and decided that she had earnt the right to a bit of fun now (which she has, from looking at her career), but it did feel like she belonged to a different film.
Ironically, I thought that the film was at its weakest when it was about the Power Rangers and the training to become them and the villain that they would face. It’s so bizarre because my thoughts before were that the action was going to be alright and the drama would kill it. How we got it the other way around I will never know. For those who are coming to see the Power Rangers though, be warned, because they’re not in the suits for very long at all. Remember that Godzilla film from 2014? Well you see less of the Ranger’s armour than you do Godzilla in that film. And when the action does come on, it’s very boring. The effects aren’t too great and I can’t help but feel that I’d seen this before. Back in 2009 to be exact, with a film called Transformers. And, true to the show I suppose, the dialogue is awful. The first joke of the film is about masturbating a bull, that’s how low we go. Still, give credit to these actors they took these awful lines and saved, well most of them. It’s like the original Star Wars films or Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy, the dialogue has always been weak but the actors make it work.
But my major criticism is something I didn’t believe I’d have to talk about. For those of you who don’t know, films like to use product placement to beef up the budget a bit. This means that some films basically advertise a product or company that has given them the rights to use the products or logos. It’s nothing new and there’s nothing inherently wrong with it. It can also be used well; examples are ET had Reese’s Pieces, Blade Runner had the Atari logo and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? had numerous Disney and Warner Bros. characters (some in prominent roles). Some, like Demolition Man with its Taco Bell rights, use it as a kind of parody. But then you get films like Evolution and anything Michael Bay makes, where your film becomes a shameless advert for these companies. Power Ranger The Movie falls into the latter category. I don’t think I’ve seen such a gross use of product placement in a very long time.
So, what is it they advertise you ask? What is it that they shove down our throats, that becomes a (no kidding) pivotal part of the plot, and why my keyboard is getting icing and jam on it as I type? It’s Krispy Kreme. You know, the doughnut place. And, it is so cringe worthy! Without giving away too much, something that the villain needs in under a Krispy Kreme stand, fair enough. But then as soon as everyone finds out they keep saying Krispy Kreme. They are giving orders to go down to the Krispy Kreme. There is even (again, no joke) a scene when the villain picks up a plate of doughnuts from the stand and takes a big, joyous bite out of one of them. It makes me want to go to the rival company it’s so shameless. Shameless being the word there, it was just a shameless advert forced into a decent film.
In the end I really don’t know what to make of Power Rangers The Movie. I’m definitely glad I saw parts of it. I honestly wouldn’t be against seeing these characters without the Power Ranger’s side to the story; a teen drama about the struggles of identity. I’m not too sure what fans of the show will think of it, I can’t say they’ll love it or that they’ll hate it. As a non-fan though, I think it was a surprisingly decent film, one that blew me away with how good one element to it was, but then disappointed with an average-to-mediocre rest of it and the shameless advertising. I would take it over Life personally, and if this is the lowest of action blockbusters this year, then I think we’re in for a good one.
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