Monday, March 27, 2017

Power Rangers (2017) Review

Yeah, I'm actually talking about this thing. I dragged my sorry ass out to a theater for the first time in I don't know how long to see my childhood slapped onto the big screen for all to see. I'll be relatively cavalier about plot details, so if you want to go in fresh, this probably isn't for you. Any heavy spoilers will be denoted via .gif though, so I won't go too nuts! Inside, you can read my harrowing tale of theater woes; convincing a dear friend to waste his Saturday night with me, movie contraband, and a couple of the biggest dickheads I've ever had to deal with in a theater. 

If you don't care about my boring life story, please scroll down until you reach the review proper. You'll know you're there when you see the picture of Bulk without a shirt on.

Let me be honest with you dear readers, I rarely go to the movies. It's embarrassing, but I'm a total Luddite when it comes to getting out to the movies. I either want to go out to watch an absolute fucking trainwreck, or I want to see a movie that inspires me to watch it. Perfectly exemplified by the last two movies I saw in theaters, Fantastic Four and Mad Max: Fury Road. One of the worst and best films I've seen in my entire life, respectively.

The following paragraph brought to you by: My justification for being too lazy to sit in a dark room for two hours so I can watch a movie I'll forget two weeks later.

But I'm not forgetting this movie. How am I supposed to be a big nerd on the internet if I can't even remember what the little robot's name is? (Alfie?) So I did the most embarrassing thing humanly possible; I took a notepad to this theater so I could take notes on the Power Rangers reboot. So if you were at a screening of this film and saw a doofus with a pen and paper desperately trying to jot down notes, congrats. You should have kicked the shit out of me.

But you know what's even worse than taking notes during a karate movie for babies? Nothing. Though if I had to pick something else that's pretty bad, it would be going to a movie alone. That's why I floated my Saturday night plans to a friend of mine named Dan.

Now Dan is a real good guy. He's got a big luscious beard and the quickest wit you'd ever find. He's a tremendously kind person, but I felt like I needed to test the limits of that generosity. I had to see if he would waste his Saturday night watching a potential dumpster fire of a movie.

I put on my big sexy puppy dog eyes and hoped that would convince my friend to see this goddamn thing. For reasons that are only know to whatever twisted God created this world, Dan agreed to spend one of the only Saturday nights we have on this Earth watching a movie where a robot punches a man made of gold.

I firmly believe he'll curse my existence on his deathbed when he realizes what I've done to him.

Oh yeah, and I bought a couple sodas from the vending machine and snuck them into the theater. No Regal Cinemas, I'd prefer not to spend 5 dollars on a thimble filled with sugar water. Also while we're on topics nobody ever discusses, what's the deal with airline food?

So your old pal Sammy K had put on two hats today: Intrepid Nerd Reporter and Movie Theater Criminal. I also put on the hat of "Terrible Friend," but too late now, Dan. You already bought your ticket you dumb son of a bitch! 

The movie starts, and about 10 minutes go by when I get a real weird vibe. I look over to Dan, and he looks particularly miffed. I'm about to ask if my incessant scribbling is bugging him, only to look down and see some fucking piece of human trash diddling around on his phone.

Now please understand you lovely people, I'm not a crotchety old baby who can't handle someone pulling out their phone to shoot a quick message during a movie. I don't care whatsoever. What made this so bad is the fact that this inhuman monster had his brightness turned up to the "Blinding" setting, and appeared to be texting the entirety of "War and Peace" to one of the other dregs of society he conned into speaking to him.


Well Dan and I move a few seats over so we don't have to deal with the world's most oblivious human being. Much like when all women abandoned him on dates, Fingers McGee didn't notice us shuffling behind him. Well no sooner do Dan and I sit down on a fresh new pair of seats, do we soon see another blinding goddamned light beam into our eyes. A completely separate pig-man decided to text some woman who wouldn't fuck him about this movie based on that show from 1975.

Jesus Christ almighty, I thought you people were already out of the gene pool.

I deeply apologize, you're here for an actual review right? Well there's a reason I led with all the details about my horrible, boring life. Because I spent ten of my hard-earned dollars on this film so that I could watch karate kids on the big screen. I had to drag a friend out into the cold light of day to sit there and watch it with me. I had to desperately attempt to use whatever light source there was in that theater so I could scrawl down "Where did Jason's sword come from?" I did all of this to illustrate a point to myself, and my readers: This franchise has its hooks in me, and they'll only come out when I'm deep inside the cold, dead ground.

So what did I think of the movie?

Honestly, I don't have a good answer. I didn't hate it, and I don't think I even really liked it. All I know is that I didn't go in with any preconceived notions about how it was going to ruin my childhood or whatever. My childhood can get fucked. I didn't go in wanting anything in particular, I just wanted to see how they adapted something so close to my heart.

The plot of this movie is essentially what you would expect. Three teens meet in detention, and then they meet some guy who lives on top of a train and a young lesbian who listens to heavy metal while standing around a quarry. They discover five magical coins that give them superhuman abilities, and later stumble upon a cave housing a magical alien named Zordon. Zordon and his robotic fuckpuppet Alpha 5 inform the teens that they're Power Rangers, and they need to prepare to fight a woman named Rita who's planning to attack their city with a creature by the name of Goldar. Though he acts as their mentor, it appears Zordon may have ulterior methods for the new team of Power Rangers.

This movie averages out to be really middle of the road for me. It addressed a lot of complaints I had with Season 1 of Power Rangers, but it also has a serious problem committing to the numerous pieces it puts into place. This 2 hours could have easily been 90 minutes if they trimmed some of the fat from this thing. For whatever reason, I keep remembering a scene that probably only lasts a minute where Jason's dad gives him a broken down car to fix up. And then we never mention that again. I guess this scene is here to show that Jason's dad loves him or something? Maybe I just don't understand this scene because I'm unfamiliar with the concept of fatherly love.

But let me take a step back real quick. This movie does a pretty good job at connecting most of our five characters together in a more realistic way. In the first episode of Power Rangers, "Day of the Dumpster," the Ranger Teens were given their powers by Zordon and immediately became best pals. In the movie, the Rangers take quite a bit of time to actually get along with each other.

Except for Trini, who's understandably aloof about this whole situation, then suddenly she stops having free will and allows the other characters to do whatever they want while they drag her along. There's literally a scene where Kimberly grabs Trini and throws the both of them down a crevice into a lake. Once they land in the water, Trini doesn't say "Hey Kim, why did you throw me down a thousand foot chasm you psychopathic twit?" The girls land, and then the scene continues to play out with no mention of the attempted murder suicide that took place four seconds ago.

The movie desperately tries to convince us that Trini is a loner who doesn't put up with any bullshit, but it also refuses to let her react when something absolutely bugnuts happens to her. It's particularly lopsided in her case, because this movie takes a lot of time to mentioning how Trini is seen as forgettable by her peers. I'd like to think this is a running joke about how little her counterpart mattered in the original series, or it could be the first thing someone came up with when they were told the Yellow one needed some kind of personality.

Or maybe she wasn't reacting because she really wanted to get a crack at Kim. Cause goddamn. 
What I can praise this movie for is the fact that they went out of their way to give all five of the Ranger Teens some sort of personality. No, that isn't damning with faint praise. That's a genuine compliment when you consider the source material. Each of the original Ranger Teens could have been summarized in two sentences at the very most. In this incarnation, even the character with the least erm…character, still has something going for them.

Zack is probably the person we end up knowing the least about, but we still have a few scenes where he tends to a sick mother at home. Later during the movie he admits the reason that he's still sticking around with all the Ranger Teens is because he doesn't want to be home for when she inevitably dies. It's a pretty dark moment in this movie, but not in a way that feels unearned.

The only one of the main five I don't care much for is Kimberly. I like her actress fine, and she brings some kind of edge to the role, but I can't possibly care about her sub-plot where she leaks nudes of one of her friends to someone.

Like, yeah I realize that's a horrendously shitty thing and she shouldn't have done it, but it's a plot point that's given an unjustified amount of time. The reason it bothers me so much is because she won't own up to it during a round-table with the other Ranger Teens when they say they should be honest with one another. After Zack bursts into tears about the inevitable death of his fucking mom.

Jason is given a bit of character, but for the most part he falls into the same category as Jason from the TV series. He's the leader and tries to keep these ragtag kids in line. The problem with this is that Zordon says in no uncertain terms, "Jason, you're the leader." It feels very clumsy and should have emerged more naturally. Jason could have taken charge on his own and established himself as a leader because he saw it was necessary. Not because the giant pushpin head told him so.

And finally we get to Billy. His character is that he can't stop telling people about that time bullies put a bunch of crayons inside of his asshole. Billy is definitely the most innocent of the group, and part of what helps bond the other Ranger Teens together.

One of the harder scenes to deal with was when Billy abruptly blurts out that he has autism to Jason. It's a really clunky piece of dialogue that feels like it only exists because the screenwriter doesn't trust the audience to put two and two together. He basically summarizes exactly what his character's behavior is going to be through the course of the movie.

…Unless the screenwriter forgets about it and has Billy act out of character. Like when he refers to a Putty as a "real-ass hologram," despite the fact that he refused to say the word douchebag in an earlier scene. Yeah, this is what I bothered writing down during the movie. I don't know why.

Okay, there's a bit more to Billy, but this where I think we're going to get into heavy spoiler territory, so I'll put anything that constitutes a spoiler between .gifs of Bulk humiliating himself then you're good to keep reading again. Got it? Great!

The biggest moment Billy has in the movie is when he and his friends are captured by Rita. After tying the Rangers up at a wharf and suspending them over the water, she demands that they answer her questions. She discerns that Billy has figured out where the plot mcguffin she's searching for is. Some stupid thing called a Zeo Crystal? I don't know where they pulled that out of. Billy reveals the location of the Zeo Crystal is at a local Krispy Kreme, because of course it is, and she rewards Billy's compliance with a trip to the bottom of the ocean. And Billy fucking dies.

No, I'm serious. He's goddamned dead. He has ceased to be. The other Ranger Teens drag his body out of the bottom of the ocean only to realize his heart has stopped. They drag his corpse back into the Command Center and beg Zordon to help him. Somehow. Zordon declines and says there's nothing he can do for Billy anymore.

This is where things connect for Zordon and the Rangers. It's revealed at the very beginning of the film that Zordon used to be a Power Ranger, Red to be exact, and Rita was part of his team. She went rogue and killed the rest of his crew before threatening to murder him as well. Zordon realized he was defeated and had Alpha 5 summon a meteorite to stop Rita from gaining access to the Zeo Crystal. Which also kills all of the dinosaurs and ends up trapping Zordon inside of a giant wall. Oops!

It's revealed later in the movie that Zordon's entire reason for getting the Rangers to morph is so that their energy can cause the Morphing Grid to restore his body to its physical form. This is playing up the aspects of Zordon I like to make fun of, and it's something I was pretty interested in. My only problem comes in when it's not given much focus, which is the primary issue I have with most anything that's interesting in this movie. Things are barely touched on and become irrelevant 10 minutes later.

Zack pisses off his friends going for a joyride in his Dinozord, then two minutes later they accept his offer to campout in the woods together. Rita comes to Earth and acts like a vagrant cavewoman, next time we see her she's some kind of evil genius creating monsters out of rock. It's the lack of consistency that really bugs me.

So where were we? Oh yeah. Billy's dead. The Ranger Teens realize that they've lost their friend because he sacrificed himself to save them. I guess? This emotional outburst sparks the Morphing Grid to energize and give Zordon a chance to reclaim his former corporeal body. But Zordon denies this opportunity and uses the energy from the Morphing Grid to bring Billy back to life. Cause he's the Power Rangers equivalent of Jesus Christ.

This scene comes at about the 4/5ths mark of the runtime, and this is when I realized something that had bothered me. The Ranger Teens aren't actual Rangers until this thing is almost over. We get a very brief transformation from Billy about midway through the movie, but even that doesn't do much for me. It lasts all of 20 seconds and only serves to put the costume on screen for people who want to be sure they're at the right movie.

The time it took to get to the Rangers morphing was a bit of a problem I had, but the much bigger issue was that they only fought as actual Rangers for like 3 fucking minutes. They battled a couple of Putties, and then almost immediately got into their Zords to fight Goldar.

As soon as the Rangers get inside their Zords, their faceplates open up like I'm watching goddamn Ninja Storm. Why is that a thing? Because we need to keep our actors faces on camera since we paid good money to make sure they're attractive? Wasn't Zordon saying something about keeping identities secret? This shouldn't be part of their power set if that's the case. It also might cause problems if you crash your Zord and smash your fucking face open on the console. It really doesn't work for me. I don't know.

Oh man, and the absolute cardinal sin of this movie is how they utilized the Power Rangers theme song. After our heroes get inside the Dinozords, we hear that absolutely amazing rendition from the 1994 movie. I turned to Dan and shook him like an idiot because I got so excited to hear that shit on the big screen for the first time in 20 years. Then, just as my smile was formed, the music cut out. It lasted the length of a fart and I was livid. The one thing I wanted out of this movie was that 90's as fuck song and I got cockteased so hard. They didn't even have the good grace to play it during the end credits. Either have the music for a reasonable amount of time or don't have it at all. If I had sneezed I would have missed it. Suck my dicks.

I'm not going to the theater demanding service as a fan. I didn't need a bunch of callbacks to the original series. I respect this movie for trying to do its own thing, but man that moment bummed me out. It also came after the total bullshit when Rita creates Goldar out of the gold she collected. As he's emerging, we get what I was hoping we wouldn't as she growls "Make my monster grow!" I didn't hear that and think "Oh fuck yeah, that was in the show!!" I just thought "…Well that was a corny way to shoehorn in one of the things people would be familiar with."

And if there's one thing Power Rangers shouldn't be, it's corny!

I will say that I enjoy the Zord fight. It wasn't anything mindblowing but it was a good bit of fun. This is also the scene where we get Jason's dad trying to get in contact with him and mentioning that he's by Mariner Bay and Reefside.

Cute, movie. I like it.

Once Goldar proves superior, the Rangers are nearly pushed into a volcanic pit. Why is it volcanic? Because the Zeo Crystal is at the bottom and it's magic so stop asking questions. This is a pretty tense scene and one that I actually quite liked. Obviously this is the moment the Rangers are going to form the Megazord, but it put so much weight into the actual formation that I really got a kick out of it. The actual fight between Goldar and the Megazord didn't grab me much, but the formation was good enough to let it pass.

The Megazord did grab Goldar. And it fucking suplexed him. That was worth a smile at least.

Although the killing blow on Goldar really sucked. They whipped out a pair of swords from the Megazord's back and impaled them into him while he was laying on the ground. It was a really anticlimactic finisher to the fight this whole movie had been building up to. I thought I was done watching Season 2.

But way worse than that is when Rita tries to stand up against the Megazord. 5 foot tall Rita tries talking smack to a 5000 foot tall mechanical dinosaur. The final scene with the villain of this movie is her getting bitch slapped into space. It exists as a throwback to an earlier scene with Jason smacking a bully, but it comes across as a really off-putting finale. The Rangers were told to never escalate a battle, but…isn't it kind of escalation when your opponent is as tall as one of your toes? It just doesn't work for me.

And then we get a cameo of Amy Jo Johnson hanging out with some MMA fighter. Jason David something? I've never heard of 'em. The best part about this is that they're credit as Cameo #1 and #2. That isn't how cameos work, guys.

So while I might have sounded overall negative on this movie, I don't feel that way. It's fine. It doesn't annoy me. It's not the complete trash I heard people assuming it would be. I'd probably rate it a low C. It's the kind of movie that you should actually watch for yourself, because I don't even have a sturdy foundation on my feelings for it. Even after writing nearly 10 pages on it, I don't have much passion. I was expecting to be very excited by it or really hate it. Neither of those options came to pass, and now I'm stuck wondering why I feel so blank.

To me, this movie felt like a cup of soda you left on the table before you went to work. You come home at night and see it's still there. Hey, maybe it's still got some taste left to it. But it's all flat. You still have a bit of flavor left in it, but not enough to actually feel fulfilled. Sometimes it tastes just fine, but you realize you may as well just get another Mr. Pibb out of the fridge. 

Genuinely curious what you good people think about this one though. I've thought a whole lot about this movie and I keep failing to come to a general consensus on it. It didn't feel like an effortless cynical piece of shit, but it also didn't seem all too memorable either. Please tell me what you think, even if you think I'm a dense fuck.


  1. In Brazil this film is a failure.

  2. The megazord is horrible and is made to dance that is enough for me to declare my youth ruined!

  3. Have you all seen the trailer for "Rise of the Green Ranger" yet?!

  4. Maneesh could you not, that was terrible.

  5. Watcha ya think of Alpha 5? I agree their faces shouldn't have been shown...i went to see THE POWER RANGERS not FIVE ACTORS I DON'T CARE ABOUT

    1. This is why we're lucky they keep failing to get a Metroid movie off the ground.

    2. I wanted to like Alpha 5 a lot more than I did, because I'm a huge Bill Hader fan. I just don't think they gave him anything funny to do. It was cute when he and Billy were boxing but he just didn't get to make me laugh. That's lame.

    3. Hey, that's about how I felt about the original Alpha 5!

  6. I liked it well enough. Granted, I haven't watched it since the theatrical release, even though I have the DVD... It had just enough nostalgia for me with the feel that it was actually trying to be different. I would have given it a B, just because I enjoyed seeing the teens have developed personalities, and Bryan Cranston.