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The Power Rangers Movie Isn’t That Bad

But it's more for the fans

Janet Song

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Saban’s Power Rangers comes into the box office grossing over $65.1 million in the United States, and yet is smacked by mixed reviews, with two approval ratings of 48% and 79% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. a “7.1 out of 10” rating from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), and a “44 out of 100” from Metacritic, based on 30 reviews.

And yet, the Power Rangers movie is not even comparable to disasters like the Fantastic Four reboot; instead, it serves as a great homage to fans worldwide. Many references are nodded to the 90’s franchise, including subtle easter eggs and famous catchphrases, such as the signature “It’s morphin’ time!” line said by one of the characters. Additionally, fans cheered in theaters when actors Jason David Frank and Amy Jo Johnson (who played Tommy Oliver and Kimberly Hart in the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series) appeared as cameos and were ecstatic when the “Go Go Power Rangers” theme song was played in an iconic scene in the film.

But the film is not worth watching just because of its tribute to the franchise, but because of its new, contemporary originality. The movie shifts into dark themes at certain parts of the film that are touched upon the characters, but at the same time, there is a good amount of humor put in, even though it may be a bit cheesy. Yet this cheesiness found at some quips between characters is justified, as it is the reason why fans enjoyed watching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers when they were kids.

What the film successfully accomplishes is the writing of the characters themselves. Like their old counterparts in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the new Rangers fit into high school stereotypes like the jock, nerd, and cheerleader; in a sense, Saban’s Power Rangers could be considered a mashup of The Breakfast Club with the superhero genre. As Zordon would put it, the Rangers are “teenagers with attitude”, and Jason, Trini, Billy, Kimberly, and Zack all have likable personalities and well-written backstories that serve well for character development.

Another detail to praise is the diversity. In an interview with Andre Meadows, cast members noted that unlike other superhero franchises, Power Rangers has always been one with diverse characters. Most of the cast consist of POCs, and the movie is the first blockbuster film to feature LGBTQ and autistic superheroes. Unlike Disney’s 2017 reboot of Beauty and the Beast, the Power Rangers film is successful in bringing representation to the screen. Whereas Disney attempted to represent a gay character through a subtle innuendo, Saban’s Power Rangers makes it obvious.

In particular, what the film does successfully in representing the LGBTQ community and autism community is that unlike other films that have attempted similar tasks, it doesn’t delve too deep into those qualities. Many films that have LGBTQ characters, for example, have fallen into the trope of trying to present that character’s struggle of accepting their sexual orientation. In films that are focused on themes like “coming out of the closet” or the struggles of the LGBTQ community, that trope is acceptable, but rarely is it ever done successfully. Films that have fallen victim to the trope have created some annoying cliches, such as tragic endings between gay relationships, butch/femme pairings, and the unfaithfulness of bisexual characters. The Power Rangers don’t follow those cliches, but that might be because while it is an important aspect of the film, it is not the main focus.

Aside from the main Rangers cast, actors Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad and Elizabeth Banks do excellent portrayals of Zordon and Rita Repulsa. Banks’ performance on Rita is exceptionally outstanding, as she is able to capture the goofiness of her 90’s counterpart but also portray a real, intimidating villain.

The downside to the Power Rangers film is perhaps the fight scenes, but only because there is not enough time spent on seeing the Rangers fight, and the amounts of explosions almost puts the film close to a typical Michael Bay film. Still, for fans, seeing the Rangers’ zords in actions was a fantastic spectacle.

Saban’s Power Rangers is still playing in theaters, and is worth a watch for all audiences, with heartwarming themes of growing up, friendship, and teamwork. However, it’s a film more enjoyable for the fans, as it serves more of a tribute to the original series than as a movie just for anyone.

 

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The Power Rangers Movie Isn’t That Bad