Power Rangers (2017)

Released: March 24, 2017. Directed by: Dean Israelite. Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G. Runtime: 2h 4 min. 

Nostalgia is a big appeal of this Power Rangers reboot, and as a 90s kid, the Rangers were definitely a part of my childhood. A problem of the original TV series, or at least the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie, is that it feels like it runs out of budget before the big finale.

This fixes it because the final battle with the Rangers’ Zords against Goldar is great, visual eye candy. The cinematography also captures the settings well and the film looks great.

It’s fun mecha action and it’s great that there’s enough budget for a solid finale, even if it feels derivative of The Avengers and Transformers, but it’s still fun. And that’s one thing about this reboot: It’s fun.

The new Rangers crew meet in detention and their introduction feels like The Breakfast Club. At least Saban’s Rangers have super powers – and John Hughes’ crew only power was teenage angst.

Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) is the team leader looking for redemption after losing a football scholarship, and now has a chance to lead the Rangers. Montgomery (in his first blockbuster) has enough presence to be a believable leader, even as a bland character.

Billy Cranston, the Blue Ranger (RJ Cyler), is a lovable tech wiz of the group and he works as comic relief and being one of the most interesting characters. Zack Taylor (Ludi Lin in his English-language debut) is the Black Ranger and he’s the most forgettable Ranger.

Naomi Scott as Kimberly Hart (the Pink Ranger) is impressive, convincingly playing a bitchy side while trying to be a better person. We catch her in a transition from Queen Bee to social pariah with the popular kids.

Trini Kwan (Becky G) is the Pink Ranger and is one of those characters who has trouble fitting in – which makes her relatable. Bryan Cranston is a compelling Zordon who unites the crew and offers guidance.

The Angel Grove crew gain super strength after finding the Power Coins entrapped in crystal. The Coins are there after a prehistoric fight between Zordon and the treacherous Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks). To protect the Zeo Crystal (which can destroy planets) against Rita, Zordon had to order a meteor strike which sent Rita to the bottom of the sea.

Rangers (1)

Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Dacre Montgomery, Ludi Lin and Becky G. in Power Rangers. (Source)

This is basically The Breakfast Club with mecha action. The crew even have a heart-to-heart around a campfire. Their comradery’s realistic, and it’s nice watching their bond grow after being strangers. The casting of little known stars is smart. I only recognized RJ Cyler for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Becky G for that annoying song “Shower” about singing in the shower.

Tonally, the film’s wobbly. The movie writes a love letter to the campiness of the original TV series, but it’s hard to see what mood the writers and director Dean Israelite are going for.

It tries to be a dark and mature origins story (like Chronicle, and there’s also a bit of that film’s visual style). It also has enough angst to make John Hughes blush. The film also takes itself too seriously and Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) feels so out-of-place because of it. She has the most personality but she’s so campy that it doesn’t work when she tries to make threats and be serious. There are times when her character is so silly that I couldn’t contain my giggles.

Banks finds a finesse of chewing the scenery so much that there’s a sense that she’s in on the joke of being campy and she embraces it. It’s great in that sense and Banks seems to be having the most fun out of anyone.

The film’s a good origins story, but it’s easy to get antsy on the road to the film’s finale because the crew don’t put on their Ranger suits until the last 30 minutes. It’s part of their development because the armour is this weird alien thing that needs to decide that they’re worthy to wear them. It’s super different from their usual spandex armour. It forces them to unite but it makes their training less compelling since they’re in civilian clothes.

The 22-year-old critical me has a few criticisms with this reboot but the 10-year-old me loves it. It’s fun and it writes a love letter to the original series’ campiness, while creating believable characters that are a good new team.

Score: 75/100

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The Breakfast Club – A film review by Daniel Prinn – For those of you who have nothing better to do on a Saturday.

The Breakfast Club

Release Date: February 15, 1985

Director: John Hughes

Stars: Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall

Runtime: 97 min

Tagline: Five strangers with nothing in common, except each other.

This is John Hughes at his absolute best.

Five high school students come together in a Saturday detention. They are all of different social statuses: there’s an athlete, a criminal, a princess, a brain, and a basket case. They all find out that they really do have more in common than they thought, especially for their hatred for their principal, Richard Vernon.

The characters are the most memorable aspect of the film. John Bender (Judd Nelson), the criminal, is just a wise-cracking bad boy who seems just to despise the world; Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez) is a nice guy with an overbearing father who just has a bit too much pressure on him; Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald), the princess, is the virginal (or maybe not?) female who’s in for skipping class; Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall), the brain, is the talkative smart guy who just needs to try in school so he can get into a good college; and Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy) is the basket case who’s also a compulsive liar.

John Hughes just makes the best on-screen chemistry. It’s a film that has lots of laughs, lots of heart, and lots of cinema greatness.

The characters are really relatable, and the actors are well-casted to portray each stereotype. The film is both very emotional at some scenes and also quite feel-good in others, and Hughes knows very well how balance the two out, he really penned a defining teen film, here.

The only tainting factor that took away five points from my enjoyment is that one of the characters gave up their individuality by the end of it all, which sort of just really peeved me off.

You’ll just want to watch it again and again. It’s the best teen coming-of-age comedic drama of its time, and one of the greatest of all time.

95/100