Movie Review: Saban's Power Rangers
By Danny Pellegrino
March 28, 2017
Whereas movies like Batman v Superman or Pacific Rim filter these fight scenes through darkness and rain, Saban’s Power Rangers embraces the color. I always wondered why Warner Bros. would want to mute the beautiful red and blue of Superman’s costume. Here, we see the reds, blacks, blue, yellows and pinks of the ranger’s costumes. The big monster is named Goldar and he radiates gold. You aren’t looking at a sepia-toned monster at nighttime in the rain. It feels like the filmmakers are giving us permission to feel like a kid when these action scenes take place. In those other big-budget movies, I always feel like the filmmakers are hiding the action out of embarrassment. It’s as if they want to darken the colors to make it impossible to see that we’re watching grown people fight in costumes. Power Rangers lets us see the action.
We get to sit back in glee as we watch grown(ish) people fight in bright costumes. Instead of feeling embarrassed by what we’re watching, we are seeing what our imaginations saw when we were kids playing with action figures in our bedrooms. There’s a perfect musical cue toward the end that in other films would be played for laughs, but here it felt like the director’s way of saying, “It’s okay to enjoy this, that’s why we made it.”
The young actors playing the rangers are all fantastic. I already mentioned the Yellow and Blue Rangers. Dacre Montgomery in particular stood out to me among the others. He plays the Red Ranger, the leader of the group. He’s got charisma in spades and they gave him a couple shirtless scenes to cement his status as a future heartthrob. Bill Hader and Bryan Cranston both lend their voices to iconic characters in the mythology. Hader as Alpha 5 was wonderful. He took what could’ve been an annoying character and made him the comic relief instead of an eye-rolling detour. Cranston opens the movie in a thrilling scene that sets up the basics and lets you know you aren’t watching the Power Rangers of 1993. Elizabeth Banks camps it up as Rita Repulsa, the main villain of the film lending some star power. Her take on Rita is much different than the TV series, and it mostly works. There are a few moments that she plays for comedy that don’t quite land, but she’s having fun with the role and I had fun watching her play it.
Will you like this movie as much as I did? If you were a fan of the show, I think you will. You’ll get wonderful callbacks and cameos to hit all your nostalgia feels. For those of you outside my generation, I think you’ll appreciate the tenderness they approached this superhero origin story, getting a movie that’s just enough different from the other Marvel and DC movies that flood the marketplace. It may seem like I’m praising two different movies—a grounded teen drama and a flashy adult cartoon. This movie is both. It often shifts from campy to serious in the blink of an eye. As a fan of the show, this made total sense to me. It appeals to my eight-year-old sensibility while still giving me some grounding to reality. I thought it was the perfect balance, but I can understand how others would find it jarring. I recommend going in with some popcorn (if you can sneak a Krispy Kreme into the theater, do it and you’ll thank me later) and letting the mix of cheese and teenage dramatics whisk you away for a couple hours.
I hope this movie does well enough that we get sequels upon sequels with the same filmmakers. It delivers everything those other superhero movies haven been offering for years—good versus evil to save the world. Saban’s Power Rangers, however, goes the extra step in providing representation on screen for people that haven’t seen themselves via Marvel or DC. There’s so much mythology left to explore. Fans like me are salivating thinking of the potential of a Green Ranger movie, or seeing the White Ranger and Lord Zedd come to life. In the meantime, Saban’s Power Rangers shows little boys and girls that it isn’t just white men in colorful costumes saving the world. It’s colorful people in colorful costumes saving the world.