Growing up in the '90s, like many kids my age, I loved “Power Rangers”. Everyday I was dying to see this group of diverse teenagers (who, in retrospect, clearly weren’t teenagers at all) morph into their brightly-colored costumes and whoop the rear end of whatever bad guy their main nemesis Rita Repulsa resurrected that episode. With “Power Rangers” seeming to make a comeback, looking back on the show has been weird...
Really not great-looking stuff, huh? From production quality, to acting, to jokes, to music, to a majority of the action sequences shot in Japan, this show is very much a piece of the '90s that hasn't aged well. Then we got a reboot film which the trailer made out to be this dark and gritty thing...
Sure, there’s dark lighting, the action looks serious, and the overall tone doesn’t look like the '90s show I grew up loving, but this movie freaking worked.
As of now, the movie stands as "rotten" on Rotten Tomatoes by critics, but fans have spoken out against the critics and made it "fresh" on their audience score. If 2016 taught us anything (aside from the facts that celebrities will die, some people still believe the Earth is flat, and The Rock is the most beloved person on the planet), it’s that everybody has vastly different opinions and that can be seen in quite a huge divide in opinions when comes to critics and audiences.
Power Rangers the movie worked. It shouldn’t have, but it did. Sure, it’s a darker reboot of a well-liked property that could’ve been started five years ago, but the fact it started now is what made it better. The people behind it saw what other rebooted franchises were doing, then took the good and cut the bad. The campiness and '90s cheese of this movie is what drives it and makes it fun. My younger girlfriend, who had never seen “Power Rangers” before, even loved the movie and demanded we watch an old episode the next day. Much to my surprise in re-watching the first episode of “Power Rangers”, entitled “Day of the Dumpster”, I was shocked to see how much was taken from this breezy 20-minute adventure and put on the big screen for two hours.
There are some major differences in some places, like Rita Repulsa’s drive, and giving every character more personality and backstory than in the kid’s show. But at it’s heart, the movie is the first episode if you boil it down to its essence. In both the show and the movie, our teen heroes are chosen at the same convenient time that Rita is resurrected. The movie has two hours to fill, so being chosen, their training, and Rita’s rise from being dead for eons naturally take longer, but it’s definitely an improvement.
The teens all have very specific personalities that correlate with their character names and colors, which are all the same as the original show. It’s cool to go back and watch the show to see how each character is really a stereotype of an archetype, especially Billy the Blue Ranger as a shy nerd, and to see how the movie takes those but makes them more human. For example, Billy in the show always used to kind of get on my nerves. Even watching that first episode again, I thought, “Man that’s a face and a personality waiting to be punched and have its lunch money stolen.” The movie, however, turns Billy into my favorite character by taking his smarts and usual nerd stereotypes and expanding on them to make him real. He even has some level of autism.
Is this all a “Breaking Bad”-level of character complexity? No, but compared to the show and some other franchises, they do quite a bit. We actually get a feel for who Billy is and why he has the heroic potential to be thrust into this group of Power Rangers. This is exactly what they do with the rest of the cast, even right down to the talking head guy, Zordon, played by Bryan Cranston, who in the show has little to no personality. I mean, you could barely even see his face on the show. I work on “Inspector Gadget” rules where if I can’t see your face, I don’t trust you, Dr. Claw. Rita Repulsa, however, is still pretty much just your regular “I want to destroy the world because I want to” kind of villain, but was a lot of fun to watch because Elizabeth Banks knew what the movie was. She hammed it up, had a lot of fun with the campy nature, and it comes off on-screen making her performance one of my favorite parts.
Lastly, the first antagonistic force from Rita’s Monster Squad is Goldar, who is also the very first creature the Rangers fight on the show:
Yup, that weird wolf or cat-faced monstrosity makes an appearance but he’s not as whacky-looking as he used to be. This was my only problem with the movie, because now he’s just a solid gold monster. Where was the ambiguous face that I have no idea what it’s supposed to be? At the time of seeing the movie, I hadn’t seen the show in years, but after watching the first episode again the next day, I was actually let down in hindsight by this change. Nonetheless, the movie is still a vast and great improvement that fans and non-fans can appreciate together. If you choose to go see it, then trust me when I say you’ll want to bring some Krispy Kremes...
Old episodes of the “Power Rangers” can be found streaming on Netflix, and our interview with the cast of the new movie can be found below!