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Review: Power Rangers (2017)

I let out a breath of relief after seeing Power Rangers.

I was really worried about the fate of this film. The trailers made it seem like a gritty reboot of the franchise, and I want to assure all Power Rangers fans that it was not. There’s no good way to make Power Rangers serious, so, rather than try, the movie embraced the goofy, shitty plots and characters that we all know and love.

 One of the most interesting things about this movie was the way in which technology was incorporated into the universe. Power Rangers predates the advent of cellphones and other smart devices, so the filmmakers were tasked with coming up with a way to show teenagers using technology while also showcasing the sci-fi alien tech in the movie and making it seem cool. I think that this film actually did this better than many other films in its genre.

Something that will immediately age the creators of a film is how they portray teenagers using technology. The easy joke is that they’re glued to their phone and totally uninterested in the world around them. Power Rangers didn’t go for the easy joke. Each character used technology in a natural way: for communication, to light up dark places, and to entertain themselves during their free time. It helped the characters feel real and natural.

The use of technology wasn’t the only thing that made the characters feel real. The filmmakers were clearly taking inspiration from classic teen movies like The Breakfast Club. It felt familiar and natural. Each Power Ranger fulfills a trope, but this film took the familiarity of the trope and built on it. The film takes a chance on the audience by assuming they will quickly understand what kind of character each Ranger is, and it adds flavor and diversity. However, while the film flaunted the diversity of its character in the advertising and plot, it still struggled to examine topics like race and sexuality beyond a superficial level.

I ended up liking the costumes and look of the movie during the film much better than I did in the promotional images. What felt very sterile in a still picture came to life on screen. Though none of the armor for the characters looked like the spandex onesies and cheap Halloween costumes we all know and love, they still worked. The strange genital guards also weren’t nearly as prominent in the film as they were in the promotional images.

The acting was really the best part of Power Rangers. What the film had in inherent shittiness was made up for in charm. The actors made their characters likeable, even when they weren’t doing likeable things. The characters came more to life in this film than the other shows and movies. This largely is the result of a distinct lack of camp, which is abundant in the rest of the franchise. There’s occasional cheesy moments in the film and famous lines (i.e. “Make my monsters grow,” “Go go Power Rangers”), but camp is noticeably missing.

I won’t pretend like this was the greatest film I’ve seen this year. It wasn’t, and it would be sad if it was. Still, I just liked it. I liked the film in some of the purest ways you can like movies. It was sentimental without being sappy or using the franchise as a crutch. In this film, I saw what I liked about Power Rangers and what I like about character-driven films. It had a well-developed style (something that is almost always missing from films like this), and charm for days. It wasn’t brilliant, but it was certainly worth seeing.

Fiona L.F. Kelly (@FionaLFKelly)
Fiona L.F. Kelly is a writer, editor, and podcaster. She has published numerous articles about all things gaming and pop culture on websites all across the internet, was also a writer for Trinity Continuum: Aberrant 2e, and has been published in books and magazines. She is an editor for the pop culture and media website GeekGals.co. In addition to her writing and editing, she has also been a guest and host on several podcasts. She hosts the Project Derailed podcast Big Streaming Pile, produces and performs on Fables Around the Table, and plays the githyanki pirate Rav’nys on Tales of the Voidfarer. Buy her a coffee: ko-fi.com/fionalfkelly

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