At every turn there seems to be a new film that is either a remake, reboot, or reimagine of a property from generations ago. While some may have the appeal of being able to use modern technology to properly tell the story (even if it backfires), others seem to be grasping at straws. A lot of the latter pieces of material are the cartoons and children’s shows of the 80s and early 90s. These films tend to leave the child audience in hysterics but the child at heart cringing for relief. To my utter and thankful surprise, Power Rangers is what a reboot should be.
In the truest sense of the word, this is an origin story reboot. We follow 5 very different teenagers as their lives converge when they find the 5 Power Coins and eventually become the new generation of Power Rangers. With the help of the last Red Ranger, Zordon (Bryan Cranston), Jason (Dacre Montgomery) as the new Red Ranger, Kimberly (Naomi Scott) as the Pink Ranger, Billy (RJ Cyler) as the Blue Ranger, Zack (Ludi Lin) the Black Ranger, and Trini (Becky G) as the Yellow Ranger begin training to defend the world from Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks). It’s a pretty basic origin story, especially if you have familiarity with the original source materials.
There is time in the beginning of the film spent on the introduction of the characters in a way that is befitting for them. The film explains enough of the backstories without giving too much away, we still need to learn about these teenagers as they grow as Rangers. You aren’t also bombarded with all of the kids from the same school at once, the pacing for the introductions is well handled and respectful of the characters as individuals. Before they can become one, they have to be distinctive on their own.
With a source material that has never truly left pop culture, or the hearts of the true fans, there is a lot that could go wrong with a reboot such as this. There has been too many times when they try to stick too closely to the original, or include elements that some feel “have to be in there,” which causes the translation to fall flat. There is a way to honor the original, but allow the new version to grow into its own.
For me, what sets this reboot apart from most is the way they take on the role of a reboot. These characters and storylines are the same, and need to be the same, but there is no dishonoring of the original. They allow for a modern update of the characters and world without harping on the fact that there needed to be a modern one.
I wouldn’t say we needed a modern version, but after the enjoyment I had at this screening, I’m glad they did. There are lines, music, and situations that fans will pick up and appreciate immediately (don’t worry, this also includes a lovely cameo). These elements were integrated so seamlessly that it was a nice bonus instead of a waiting game for them to be included.
The most impressive thing, in my opinion, was the inclusion of the modern world in a classic story. These characters have evolved to include elements that are facing our youth today, and have done so in a respect that banishes any stereotypes that can befall those traits. Our world looks different then it did in 1994, and kids are dealing openly with issues we never dreamed of.
Some recent articles on the film have focused on the fact that Trini is a lesbian and Billy is on the Autism spectrum. While there should be some praise that the screenwriters didn’t shy away from adding these traits, I don’t believe it should be given as much publicity as it has been. There isn’t a lot of time devoted to explaining or trying to make the characters feel comfortable around “normal” kids, these aren’t traits that make or break a plot line within the story, these traits just happen to be a part of who these characters are.
That is what is praiseworthy. There isn’t an issue with the fact that Billy is OCD and has to line up everything perfectly, or that Trini has issues with her family because of so-called labels. Each one of these characters are different, in whatever way that may be, but they come together to form a team and fight evil. They are good people who have a strong sense of self and care about each other as friends. Diversity isn’t what breaks us apart, it brings us together.
This film is not a kids movie, and it’s not an adult movie. It is a good movie that does a beautiful balancing act between the two apparent genres. The story is not dumbed down to be easier for kids to understand, yet it’s also not jammed with over reaching concepts that kids aren’t able to understand yet. Audiences now are smarter, we have been exposed to different techniques and are able to pick up things easier than before.
The camera work and the intelligent editing work leads the film to be a beautiful thing to behold. Somehow it doesn’t try too hard to achieve this, it’s just done with ease. This most definitely means that there is a nod to the lovingly corny elements the original bathed in modern artistry. To say that I’m gushing would be right, I was impressed by how enjoyable this film was.
Sci-Fi has always been a genre in which the future is just out of reach, that evolution of self and culture is integrated into the thread of the story. Nothing is off limits and anything is possible in these films, and when they are done right, they present an opportunity for film fun while connecting with audiences in different ways depending on who is watching. When we are capable of suspending our belief that aliens can create a giant gold monster to destroy our world, we can find solace in variety.
I went to see this movie purely out of curiosity. I remember the original show, and while I never was a die hard fan, there are pop culture elements that have become engrained in my life since my youth. I was expecting this film to depend too much on the hokey attitude of the original, falling into the pitfalls of absurdity. Maybe it was because I went into the film with fresh eyes, but this film was highly entertaining. I recommend it for anyone, new and old fans alike.
Power Rangers opens nation wide today.
Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Lionsgate