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  • A Power Rangers Review by a Shameless, Raving Fan of the Original Series (with mild spoilers)

    Overall: I really liked this movie. I was surprised, but the “dark and gritty reboot” spin didn’t mess it up for me. It was fun, funny, nostalgic, and its own thing at the same time. The whole “power of friendship” thing really worked here. In most movies, that sort of theme comes across as cheesy, but I understand now why they made the Power Rangers the “troubled teens” in this version. It gave them room to grow as they found family with each other. They took the basic structure of a Power Rangers episode and fleshed it out with meaningful characterization. Almost like they threw a little “The Breakfast Club” in there, which is never a bad thing. Power Rangers 2017 is cool movie in its own right, and if you’re a fan of the original show, it delivers in the throwback elements, too. It WAS darker and grittier, but it still FELT like Power Rangers.

    For all you 90s kids out there, here’s a little breakdown of the morphinominal (and not-so-much) aspects of the movie, complete with a few unqualified, nostalgic references juuuust for you:

    Liked:

    1) Bryan Cranston as Zordon was AWESOME. He worked on the original show, and Billy Cranston, the Blue Ranger, was named after him. And yes, he nailed the Zordon vibe. So great!

    2) Billy was on the autism spectrum, and he was easily the best character in the movie. He was legitimately funny. RJ Cycler did a pretty good job acting as this character, too. Really cool move by the filmmakers.

    3) Jason grew from a character who is very different from the cool, staid, humble leader of the original series into someone who is closer to that character by the end of the film. It gave his character a lot of depth. But I still miss Austin St. John. #You’llAlwaysBeMyHero

    4) Naomi Scott. Her Kimberly was very close to Amy Jo Johnson’s. The subtle details of her performance made this feel like Power Rangers more than anything else in the movie did. She anchored the show. And I just really like her as an actor. She was in Terra Nova, another one of my favorite nerdy shows–incidentally, also involving dinosaurs.

    5) Alpha says “Ai-ai-ai!”

    6) Rita says, “Make my monster grow!”

    7) Jason says, “It’s morphin’ time.”

    8) Defeating Rita a la Team-Rocket’s-blasting-off-again.

    9) Kimberly cliff jumps — a throwback to the coolest scene from the original movie.

    10) There are mature themes, but they are handled appropriately for a movie aimed at this age group. They don’t gloss over things, but they aren’t showing the intimate pictures, etc. It’s clear what’s being discussed, but it’s also clear the film is not about sensationalizing kids. (Except maybe that swimming scene at the beginning. They show Kimberly in her underwear, which seemed a little out of place in a movie targeting a younger demographic.)

    11) Zordon and Rita were Rangers. This fills in a lot of questions from the original about how Rita acquired the Green Power Coin. And it sets up the sequel nicely.

    12) That mid-credits scene . . . “Tommy Oliver,” with the legendary jacket draped over the chair.

    13) Best part: Y’all. There was a cameo. They said there wouldn’t be, but there was. I’m not gonna spoil it, but . . . I almost screamed.

    Didn’t Like:

    1) Rita’s whole dominatrix outfit thing. Or her general, creepy vibe.

    2) Zords were weird. (Why did the Mastodon have six legs?)

    3) Goldar was weird.

    4) Alpha was weird.

    5) Zordon was a Pin Art 3D

    6) The original theme played at an out-of-place time.

    7) There were no beepers. Alas, the 90s, you are no longer with us. 🙁

    8) Billy: “We’ll call it a . . . a MEGAZORD!” (Not the exact quote, but basically.)

    9) Bryan Cranston never told the Rangers that he is the one who knocks.

    Mixed Feelings On:

    1) The Command Center was okay.

    2) The struggles piloting the Megazord reemphasized the Power of Friendship rule and addressed a major plot hole in the original version. (How did the Rangers learn to pilot a giant mech in two seconds?) The suit interface with the Zords helped explain that, too. Still, I kind of wanted the Megazord to throw back to the TV show–lightning sword and everything. 3) Zack’s subplot–taking care of his sick mother–was wonderful. The cultural aspects of his role were very respectful and well performed. He genuinely felt like an Asian-American student with a foot in the culture of his upbringing and a foot in American youth culture. His performance also carried all the frustration and posturing that often comes with living in two worlds at once. I loved Ludi Lin’s character through and through–I just wanted more of him. 4) Trini was also a fantastic character. Unfortunately, just like in the original show, we didn’t get to zoom in on her as much. My favorite scene of hers scene was at the campfire when she gets really vulnerable. It was so well done. Becky G had the most difficult role to play, and she might have been the best actor on the show. She sold me on Trini. Again, I really wanted more of her. Conclusion: 7.5/10 Power Rangers 2017 was great. It was a fun ride, a well-paced story, and it had some solid actors that made the characters relatable and believable. I think Millennial fans of the original, teens, and kids can all find something to enjoy about it. I’m excited to see where they take the franchise from here. If you’re taking your kids to see it, be aware that there is darkness, creepiness, and mature subject matter including death, sexual attraction, sexting, and how generally messed up teenagers can be to each other. But there’s also a lot about self-forgiveness and the benefits of community that’s pretty–well, powerful. Be prepared to talk to your kids about this stuff. Or don’t take them if you think it’s not right for your family. But the reality is, this is stuff that teenagers deal with, and I think the movie presents it in a way that you can have a great conversation about it. All in all, if you’re looking for a fun, spring action flick, Power Rangers is a good one to see!

    Guest Blogger: JJ