It’s Morphin Time: ‘Power Rangers’ Retrospective

Updated on June 4, 2018
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Mr. Oneil is a professional journalist who graduated from Norfolk State University with a BA in journalism.

Original film poster
Original film poster | Source

Mighty Morphin was already copyrighted

Back in the day, I was in elementary school when the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first came on Fox Kids. A show like it had never been on television before and it made a big impression. Naturally the series would be rebooted into a modern feature film. As a fan of the original I had to see this in theaters. From 2017 comes the science fiction superhero film Power Rangers, directed by Dean Israelite.

The film follows five teenagers with attitudes who are chosen by Zordon to become intergalactic superheroes known as Power Rangers. A former Ranger himself, Zordon helps train the new team to face rogue Power Ranger, Rita Repulsa, who has reappeared and wants to take over the world.

The film begins with a prologue. In the time of the dinosaurs existed a group of intergalactic armored superheroes called the Power Rangers who protected those in need. The Green Ranger, Rita, played by Elizabeth Banks, goes rogue and turns on the others. She’s after the Zeo Crystal, a McGuffin tied to the Earth’s lifeforce. Rita murders the other rangers, leaving only the Red Ranger, Zordon, played by Bryan Cranston. Zordon summons a meteor that kills him and the dinosaurs, but defeats Rita and sends her flying into the ocean.

In the present, in the town of Angel Grove, a high school student named Jason, played by Dacre Montgomery, is given detention and an ankle monitor following a botched prank involving a cow. In detention he meets autistic nerd Billy, played by RJ Cyler, and retired cheerleader Kimberly, played by Naomi Scott. Jason quickly befriends Billy, who helps him with his ankle monitor. They then travel to an abandoned mine where they meet up once more with Kimberly. They are joined by two others, tomboy new girl Trini, played by Becky G, and bad boy Zack, played by Ludi Lin.

Kimberly, Jason, and Billy talk about the recent events surrounding their lives
Kimberly, Jason, and Billy talk about the recent events surrounding their lives | Source

Billy blows up a rock wall and discovers five rocklike coins of different colors. They each take one, but the explosion alerted the authorities. While fleeing in the same vehicle, they are hit by a train but wake up at their homes perfectly intact. Actually, they are not just fine, but apparently those coins, called power coins, granted them super strength, enhanced endurance, and far leaping abilities.

The five go back to where they found the coins and discover a spaceship deep underground. Inside they find the android Alpha 5, played by Bill Hader, who managed to upload Zordon’s mind into the ship’s computer. Zordon awakens, but isn’t too happy about being inside a computer, nor is he happy about five teens gaining the power coins. Before he died Zordon hid the power coins from Rita, which are the Power Rangers’ power source.

Rita is fished out the ocean in a mummified state. She awakens and restarts her plan to find the Zeo Crystal. Zordon and Alpha learn of Rita’s revival and decide to train the teens to become the new Power Rangers.

The Power Rangers are quite a unique cast of characters, each one is different and brings their own dynamic. Jason is the leader but didn’t start off as such. He was quite a trouble maker. He’s placed on house arrest for a botched prank and removes his ankle monitor with Billy’s help. His father scolds him, but Jason brushes it off. Kimberly quits being a cheerleader after being involved in a cyberbullying incident. She initially comes off as snobbish and uncaring. In fact, she got in trouble but blamed others for it.

Trini is the new girl. She’s rather withdrawn and is very reluctant to join the others. This also extends to her family, whom she also barely speaks to. She’s also quite sarcastic. However, she’s quite the brawler as she’s the main one to take to Alpha’s training. The main thing about Trini is that she’s a lesbian, which is another reason she’s seen as an outcast. Zach is the bad boy of the group. He seems to get into trouble often and doesn’t sugar coats the truth. Like Andrew from the film Chronicle, Zach’s mother too is gravely ill, and she’s the person who Zach has the closet bond.

Trini has Zack in a headlock
Trini has Zack in a headlock | Source

Billy is the most likable of the rangers. He’s the smartest and most caring. He has autism, which makes him a target for bullies, but Jason sticks up for him after befriending him. However, he unintentionally sticks up for himself once his powers manifest. Due to his caring nature, he’s the first to morph into a Power Ranger. Billy is also the one who bring the team together. He gets involved in an accident later that finally causes the team to unite.

Zordon is a rather unusual character. He serves as the Power Rangers’ mentor, but he isn’t good at it. He openly states his disappointment in the Rangers and wishes that they didn’t find the power coins. Zordon originally wanted to use the Rangers to revive himself, but something happens later where he changes his mind and acts more benevolent. Alpha’s a better person than Zordon personality-wise. He treats the Rangers better and willingly trains them. To help brighten their spirits he shows them their zords, giant animal-shaped vehicles they get to pilot once they learned how to transform.

Rita is quite a villain. Upon her awakening she immediately goes around Angel Grove murdering people and taking gold to make a powerful minion called Goldar. She was the former Green Ranger but became selfish. She’s very powerful, able to fight off the Rangers without transforming. It’s easy to tell that Banks is enjoying her role as Rita as she plays a ham in all her scenes.

Rita: transformed-left, normal-right
Rita: transformed-left, normal-right | Source

There are two popular characters from the original series who don’t appear in the film, Bulk and Skull. They were originally bullies who developed into heroes as the series progressed. Fans of the series will notice their absence, but there is a generic bully character who torments Billy. Unlike the more lighthearted nature of Bulk and Skull, this bully is played more seriously. His role is minor and serves as a plot device for Jason’s friendship with Billy and to show Billy’s newfound durability.

As a reboot of the series the film’s main focus is the five teens becoming the Power Rangers. As such the teens don’t appear as the Rangers until near the end, which may turn some off. For a film about Power Rangers, there isn’t many scenes with Power Rangers. Their onscreen appearance is very brief before the film’s climax happens. While there’s not many, the film’s few action scenes are spectacular. The CGI mixes well and the special effects are smooth. It’s a shame the Power Ranger aren’t shown more since they’re the most interesting part of the film.

Unmorphed Rangers left to right: Billy, Jason, Trini, Zack, Kimberly
Unmorphed Rangers left to right: Billy, Jason, Trini, Zack, Kimberly | Source

The most notable piece of music plays when the Rangers summon their zords. The song that plays is a variation of the Go Go Power Rangers theme from the 90s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers film, though they purposely edited out the Mighty Morphin part. The advertisements featured the overly played Power by Kanye West.

Overall Power Rangers was an acceptable reboot. While the cast from the original series was diverse, the new one is even more so as everyone is of a different ethnicity. Despite this I do have a minor issue with a few of the castings as I felt that there were better choices to play the Rangers. Changing the teens into trouble makers was a bold move. There’s friction between them, and much of the film is them learning to work as a team.

Angel Grove was much smaller here since it’s been reduced to a small town. I felt the film could have been just as effective if the setting were in a city like the series. Rita was much more involved physically, where in the series she simply ordered her minions to do her bidding. Making Zordon and Rita former Rangers added to the mythos and gave them a connection to the new Rangers. The one complaint is with the film’s marketing. There’s an over abundance of Krispy Kreme advertisements. During the climatic battle every other word spoken is Krispy Kreme. There’s even a scene showing Rita eating a doughnut. It could have done with few Krispy Kreme references.

Power Rangers was one of those film series where several sequels were announced before the first film was released. It was a box office bomb which makes any sequel unlikely. There’s even a mid-credits scene to lead into the next film. It seems that the team behind Power Rangers were a bit too enthusiastic in the future than what was right in front of them. Regardless, check this one out if you’re a fan of the original but want to see a different version of it, or even a newcomer who wants to see a modern version of the original.

Original film teaser

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    © 2018 Staff Oneil

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