IT’S MORPHIN TIME! A joyous thrill ride for all ages!
I’ll be perfectly honest. I wasn’t expecting much from this film. It was my favorite television series growing up as a kid and when I heard about this reboot, I wasn’t excited at all. It felt like someone was stomping on sacred ground. I had such a deep emotional connection to the 90’s series that sometimes I look back and wonder how could have a campy and ridiculous story meant so much to me? But no matter the answer to that question, I didn’t want them to make an over the top reboot that would ruin everything that I loved about it. Period. As I walked into the theater tonight, I wasn’t expecting much. I’d seen the trailers and the photos and saw nothing that I approved of. The only reason I bought a ticket is because I found a Fandango gift card that still had enough money on it to pay for my ticket.
Oh boy, was I wrong.
A COMING OF AGE STORY FOR A NEW GENERATION
The story begins with the last Power Rangers team led by Zordon (Bryan Cranston), 65 million years ago, as they fail to permanently stop their former teammate Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks). He hides the five coins before he sacrifices himself in hopes that one day, a new Ranger team will be formed by those that are worthy.
Fast-forward to present day in small town America. The kind of town where everyone knows everyone, and no secret stays secret for long. One-by-one, the audience meets five teenagers, and why they are considered “screw-ups” to their town and to their families. Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery), a once football star that has made some bad choices and whose future is now uncertain. Billy Cranston (R.J. Cyler), an autistic genius that is misunderstood and bullied. Kimberly Hart (Naomi Scott), a once popular cheerleader who has fallen from grace after betraying a friend. Trini Kwan (Becky G), a perpetual new girl at school who prefers to keep to herself with parents that refuse to understand her eccentricities. And Zack Taylor (Ludi Lin), the absent student coping with the burden of taking care of his dying mother.
They are outsiders, who are isolated and alone with no one that understands them. Until, for one fateful reason or another, they all find themselves illegally entering a mine and come into possession of the coins.
What follows is a story of growing up, learning to trust one another and setting aside petty differences to focus on what truly matters. Meanwhile, Rita’s body is recovered and in a matter of days her power will be restored so she can finish the mission she began: retrieve a piece of a crystal that’s buried within the Earth that is the source of its life. They learn to become a team, through training, discovery, and heartbreak.
The dialogue is quick and witty, showcasing what makes this generation, the millennials, different than any other that has come before. It’s funny when it’s supposed to be and pulls at the heartstrings where it should. The pace is constant, never letting up and growing steadily until it reaches the perfect peak in the final battle. There are perfect set ups at the beginning of the film that pay off beautifully towards the end that literally made my full theater of people clap and cheer.
The story is completely character driven, which is why this film resonates with the audience so much as it ends. It confronts many of the difficulties that teenagers and other young people deal with everyday, while still giving the adults who grew up with the original series everything they loved from it. It’s not a simple cookie cutter action remake with no substance, like so many of them are today. It presents issues like bullying, mental health, and diversity bluntly and without shame, but weaves them so subtly into the story that it’s not distracting. They actually make the themes and importance of the film resonate even more. It is a perfect example of a screenplay that Hollywood desperately needs more of.
A FILM THAT WILL MAKE EVERY 90’S KID PROUD
As far the action…it’s just plain cool. By the final battle I was on the edge of my seat with every swing and flip. Most of the nods to the 90’s series come in the final 20 minutes, and I wasn’t disappointed at all that I had to wait that long for them. Every time another one came on screen I could hear every person in the theater around my age vocally respond in some way. Or like the group of guys in front of me, clap or raise their arms in victory. The editing and choreography of the action is full of sweet karate moves and smart cinematography choices, not to mention the amazing computer graphics. When we finally get to see the Zords in action, it’s like I was ten years old again, sitting cross legged on the floor five feet from my little television. They were just So. Damn. Cool.
I dare not give away anymore, especially the little easter eggs thrown in so carefully and thoughtfully to make every 90’s kid who grew up with this series smile and clap like a maniac right in their theater seat. And here’s the only warning I will give you: MAKE SURE YOU STAY FOR THE AFTER CREDITS SCENE.
This film not only exceeded the extremely high standards that I had for it…it blew them to smithereens. It made me want to come home, find the series on Netflix and rewatch every single episode. This series always meant a lot to me as a kid, and not just because it was cool and it allowed me to bond with other kids in elementary school as we all took turns pretending to be our favorite Ranger. (Yellow Ranger rules!) Without realizing it, this series allowed me to transcend all the expectations that people had of a girl my age and let me be whoever I wanted. I was always different than the other girls growing up, and the Power Rangers let me feel comfortable about feeling different. That it was okay. And there is one particular scene in this film that summed all those childhood feelings up and I instantly started shedding tears because of it.
Although I’m sure not everyone has that much of an emotional connection to this original series, the film has the substance and deeply relatable characters that will resonate with the 90’s kids and certainly inspire a new generation. You don’t want to miss it because IT’S MORPHIN TIME!
OVERALL GRADE: A