There was a lot of hype about this movie, a large part of it powered by the nostalgia of fans of the original series, but is it any good? Well, it depends very much what you’re hoping for, I guess. Despite clear efforts with the script to tackle meaningful issues and explore complex emotions, it’s not a cinema or cultural masterpiece, but I think few fans of the franchise were hoping or expecting that. The film is a reboot using characters from the original series, reintroducing Jason, Trini, Zack, Billy and Kimberly as the multi-coloured protectors of the world through a new cast. Also returning is their mentor Zordon and archenemy Rita Repulsa.
First thing is first, there’s no doubting that the higher budget of a blockbuster production and advancement in special effects technology, over the intervening decades, has been used to great effect here. Everything from the ranger outfits to the Zords to the command centre has been presented in a much more believable form. This also benefits the more outlandish characters, Zordon, Alpha 5 and Rita, who have all had a face lift and look much better for it. Power Rangers has certainly never looked so good. It’s a pity then that the character development doesn’t quite match up. While there has clearly been a lot of effort in this area with each character having been given a back story and tale of woe. On the whole, these backstories are told in dialogue and not shown and, in some instances, don’t seem to really come alive in the personality of the characters. Jason and Billy have the strongest personalities of the group but Zack, Trini and Kimberly’s characters all feel a little muted and underdeveloped despite their personal tales of woe.
Problems in character development aren’t new to Power Rangers as a franchise. It has a long history or ups and downs in this area, across its many series. When I first heard that the group would meet up during detention, I was hoping the producers had taken some inspiration from the opening of the Dino Thunder series which, in my opinion, had best opening of any of the series. The personalities of the three main rangers were clear from the outset, it had humour and action, but the film has taken a darker, grittier path instead of the light hearted fun of that series. That’s not to say that the film is lacking in humour. It’s certainly there. The opening prank with the cow will leave you in no doubt of that but darker themes and the attempts at drama, do drag it down, and I did find myself wishing that film took itself a little less seriously in places.
The film also has a very long build up which means that it isn’t until late in the film that our team finally suit up and actually get to kicking putty ass. The film by no means lacks action, with many chase scenes and training battles to keep you entertained but let’s face it, it’s the epic Zord battles that fans really want to see, and you’re definitely left waiting for that. However, for fans of the original series there is a treat in store, with some of the original cast popping up in a camo, so keep those eyes peeled near the end.
Overall, I certainly wasn’t left disappointed by the film, but neither did it particularly grip me. It seems to walk a fairly central path of delivering enough to satisfy but not quite reaching the dizzying heights of its full potential. It has fun moments and touching moments, and the finally battle is suitably epic in scale, but not all the elements seem to gel. The main problem seems to lie in the film’s inability to decide whether to kick back and have fun with the premise or to produce a dramatic masterpiece into the issues facing young people, their sense of identities and discovery of their place in the world, which leaves it uncomfortably straddling the two. However, it was entertaining to watch and reached a satisfactory conclusion. If you’re a fan of the original series then this is well worth a watch. However, if the franchise has failed to impress you up to this point, then there isn’t really much in this offering that will change your mind.