By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas, US)
GO! GO! POWER RANGERS! Power Rangers has finally returned to theaters after twenty-one years. This time without the over the top sound effects, unrealistic fight scenes, and cheesy dialogue, well for the most part. Power Rangers tells the story of five troubled teenagers who after one mysterious night of exploring a construction site learn they have become infused with superpowers. Then they must learn how to harness these new abilities and powers to save the world from the evil Rita Repulsa. With a combination of good acting and solid visual effects, Power Rangers does enough to keep the die-hard fans entertained. However, it lacks the substance and filmmaking qualities to attract a newer viewer to its lore.
Opening with an attempt at comical dialogue about trying to make a bull achieve orgasm, Power Rangers introduced me to what kind of film I was in for. Let me first clarify that Power Rangers is not a terrible movie in itself. However, it does contain numerous flaws. The aspects that I enjoyed about the film revolve around the effort put into the character building of our five Rangers. With excellent dialogue used to flush out our main characters in an almost Breakfast Club sort of way. The film feels grounded in its first two acts with fabulous world-building and character design. With each of our main characters aspirations and reasoning being flushed out to an extent. From a filmmaking side of things, the production design and visual effects are well done. The Rangers themselves look fantastic with some of the suits being actual practical effects with superb hand crafted material for these suits to come off as realistic as possible to the viewer.
The visual effects used to create the Zorgs and locations is well done as in comparison to its underfunded 1995 predecessor. The production design used to create the environment and setting of the film is utilized very well. Creating this teen drama sort of tone for the film’s subtext. These are factors that can make this film relatable and identifiable with its die-hard followers of the original show. However, where this film falls apart is its lack of tonal focus. The first two acts of Power Rangers have a superhero origin rescue style of tone where the characters, setting, and narrative are grounded in the sense of realism. In the third act, things take a turn for the worse, and it explodes into a CGI filled and over the top dialogue extravaganza. This lack of tonal focus displayed the lack of ingenuity created for the entirety of the film as if the writers got lazy near the end and wrapped up everything with cliché tropes of blockbusters.
The film loses its lack of investment and stakes when the third act reveals itself. Even though Elizabeth Banks is giving a good performance, emphasizing the focus on an over the top and dynamic character to pay homage to the original Rita portrayed by Julia Cortez. However, this performance conflicts with the initial tone set in the first two acts that are grounded. The other flaws I had with the film revolves around the filmmaking itself with a lot of the angles used being almost homages to the Michael Bay and blockbuster stylistic of filmmaking. Using fast slow editing to stylize the film’s action which is now overused in today’s blockbuster genre with franchises such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers, and Fast of the Furious all overusing this style.
The performances of the actors portraying the Rangers themselves are well done with Dacre Montgomery, RJ Cyler, and Naomi Scott standing out among the rest. However, these performances are conflicted by the sudden change of tone shown in the third act. The overall filmmaking qualities are not well done either with the direction being compact incoherent shot design and the fast paced editing being in no relation to the tone. These flaws hold the narrative back to its full potential even though it contains solid performances and a conventional narrative. These significant aspects of the film are never flourished in entirety due to the different flaws placed throughout the run time of the movie.
Power Rangers is a lackluster blockbuster for anyone looking to witness a spectacular movie. However, if you are a fan of the original show, you will thoroughly enjoy this adaption of the original show for what it is. Power Rangers is a film that begins with magnificent character development and a visually stunning design. However, it goes off the rails with its lack of tonal focus and overused style of filmmaking.