This is a bad movie. Start to finish. I hate this. Why am I doing this?
Those words went through my head as I sat down to watch this week’s movie. This is going to be a long blog, a return to form with a classic movie review. Nostalgia has always kind of been my thing. I loved Power Rangers as a kid, although I have no illusions that it was a great movie or tv show. But it was a piece of my childhood, so it will always hold a place in my heart. This obviously means the new Power Rangers movie was going to face an uphill struggle with me. But this movie is bad on enough levels that I know it isn’t just me. It goes too many directions, tries to be too many things at once. Does it want to go fan service or be a completely new property? Does it want to be a sassy teen comedy or a gritty superhero movie? There’s some fan service, but other missed chances. It makes silly jokes, but has brutal killings. This movie tries to do too much at once, and so therefore fails at all of it. There is so much wrong with this movie that I can’t just break down one part of it, this will be a traditional movie review. Why am I doing this?
The movie opens with the aftermath of a battle, as the yellow ranger dies and passes her power crystal on to Zordon. Zordon knows that he can’t beat . . . Rita? Really? The name Rita is 65 million years old? Come on. But Zordon knows he can’t beat Rita, so he calls down a meteor to take her out. We find out this is the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. This movie opens with the heroic mentor committing genocide less than three minutes in. This is the first time the movie proves wrong everyone who wants to defend it from serious analysis because it’s a kid’s movie. Zordon clearly went to the Zach Snyder school of superheroing.
In the next scene we meet Jason Scott soon to be leader of the Power Rangers. We meet Jason as he engages in the decidedly un-heroic task of breaking into his high school locker room with a stolen cow because . . . teen hijinks? I don’t know. At this point, Jason’s friend (who I’m sure has a name) says that the cow is stepping on his foot. My friend Cody recently corrected my false impression that a cow stepping on your foot will destroy every bone in your foot, but he agreed that it does get more of a reaction than “hey, she’s on my foot! That sure does sting!” We also get a crude teen romp jerk off joke, when Jason’s friend finds out he “milked” a boy cow, something he should have known because (I’m quoting here) “there was only one udder, it was surprisingly thick, I had to use two hands.” This is the first really schizophrenic moment of the movie, when less than two minutes ago there was genocide, and now a bull dick joke.
We see our first car chase of the movie, then Jason wrecks his car and is arrested, and the movie proper really begins with each of our main characters arriving at detention, because this movie is also The Breakfast Club. Hell, the characters are even the same. A princess/cheerleader type, the jock that just ruined his future, and the nerd who had exploives go off in his locker (Breakfast Club had a flare gun, Power Rangers had a bomb, both had the same basic plot). We meet the juvenile delinquent and the shy girl a little later, first we have to spend a bunch of time learning just how misunderstood these kids are. Kimberly is kicked off the cheerleading squad because she leaked a nude photo of another cheerleader, then punched a guy. We’re supposed to feel sorry for her, but that actually seems super legitimate. But in response to being kicked from the squad, she uses office scissors in a dimly lit bathroom and shears her hair, and somehow it looks amazing. I’ve been bald for a while, and even I know that’s bullshit. We also learn that even though Jason is a troubled youth, he has a heart of gold. He defends Billy from a bully who is a grossly missed opportunity at fan service. How do you have a bully in a Power Rangers movie and not name him Bulk or Skull? But the defense proves important, because it gives Billy the confidence to invite Jason along for an adventure in return for deactivating Jason’s ankle bracelet and loaning him a car for a few hours.
There are a few moments in the first act of this movie that really stand out as nonsense. First of all, Billy offers to take care of Jason’s ankle bracelet, but doesn’t say how long it will take or what he needs to do. So when Jason shows up at 6:56 and starts shouting at Billy to hurry, that one’s really just on him. We’re also supposed to believe that the kid on the spectrum who is such a momma’s boy that he apologizes to the ghost of his father for taking the car, is also willing to steal the car, break into a restricted mine, and set off explosives? We’re also supposed to believe that a kid so smart he can deactivate an ankle bracelet also can’t figure out how much explosive he should use, or the timing on the detonation? I get that it’s for comedic effect, but it’s pretty jarring.
After the explosion, the Rangers flee a security staff that takes WAY too long to get there, and we’re treated to the second car chase of the movie. This one ends with the van they’re driving being hit by a train, and they suddenly wake up at home. This is very out of place, there is nothing in this movie that indicates why this would happen, no moment where their power set shows why they would appear at home. I have no problem with them surviving the crash, they’ve become super strong and durable, that’s fine. But the lost time/teleportation does not make sense.
So the kids go through exploring these new abilities (strength, speed, durability), and thankfully they accidentally discover the underground/underwater ship with their mentor on it. The kids meet Zordon and his assistant Alpha 5, a 65 million year old robot whose name is somehow an acronym in English. Zordon explains that Rita has survived (something he has no reason to know, as he just woke up in the ship after being gone for 65 million years), and that she plans to destroy all life on earth by finding and destroying the Zeo Crystal, something that will simultaneously kill everyone on Earth and give Rita complete control over life and death. Look, don’t try to make it make sense, it won’t. I drank more watching this movie than I did during Titanic, and it’s only 2/3 as long.
Zordon explains that Rita is killing people all over town to collect gold so she can make her monster Goldarr (more English translations, weird) who will be able to destroy the Zeo Crystal for her. There are training montages as Zordon and Alpha inform the Rangers that the way to unlock their full power is to be full in sync, and to “think of no one but each other.” We also see Rita killing people and collecting gold, and she somehow knows English. I’m willing to accept that Zordon knows it, he lives in a computer now. Rita has been awake for like 3 days, I don’t accept that she learned the language, including puns and jokes.
“Friends, emotions chat, sharing secrets. This is stupid and I hate it.”
That’s the sentence I wrote in my notes at this point in the movie. The Rangers, despite developing their friendship with silly displays of power like fork dueling over the last piece of waffle and throwing super fast notes to each other, are still not in sync enough to access their full power. Instead of doing trust falls or other team building exercises, the team sits around a camp fire for a few hours and exchange secrets with each other. After they end this valuable use of everyone’s time, the Rangers go home and Trini is attacked by Rita. Rita concludes this attack by doing nothing except roughing Trini up a little, causing some structural damage, revealing her plan, and then leaving. Neat.
The Rangers meet up and leave to confront Rita, knowing they aren’t strong enough, and predictably lose the fight. Billy reveals the location of the Zeo Crystal in order to save Zack’s life (instead of lying, what stopped him from doing that?). Rita in turn reveals the rest of her plan, drops Billy in the water, frees the other Rangers from their bondage, and leaves. How are we still making Bond villains after YEARS of making fun of Bond villains? Also, Billy dies in this moment, which is incredibly confusing to me. Rita survived the meteor that killed the dinosaurs, a shotgun blast to the chest, and being underwater for 65 million years. How does Billy die after being underwater for less than a minute? Actually, scratch that. After pulling Billy out from the water, not ONE of them tries CPR. So yeah, that makes sense. It doesn’t make sense that he was already dead when they pulled him up, but he definitely would have died shortly after due to nobody rendering even the smallest amount of life saving aid.
Something I haven’t mentioned before is that we found out about fifteen minutes earlier in the movie that it is possible to bring a Ranger back to life. What this means is that the tension when Billy dies is manufactured and unnecessary, much like when they killed Superman at the end of Batman Vs Superman, despite the world knowing Henry Cavill had signed a contract for the Justice League movie. The reason I haven’t mentioned this Ranger resurrection is because I wanted to show you how easy it would have been to NOT let us know before Billy died how easy it was to bring him back.
Billy returns to life, and this moment of togetherness is enough to let the Rangers access to their powers. Right now, this movie gets fun for about five minutes. The Rangers are fighting the putties (who are made of rock, not clay), and making puns, telling jokes, and generally doing Power Rangers things. It takes almost 90 minutes for a movie about teenage superheroes in bright costumes to be fun. Outstanding.
The fun ends about five minutes later, and goes back to being overly dramatic and forcing tension. The Rangers go to confront Rita and her 20 story tall monster. Goldarr’s job is to dig down to the Zeo Crystal and get it for Rita. There’s no explanation for why she needs Goldarr to do it, when he really only digs down about 30 feet. It’s actually pretty shocking that no construction or utility crew accidentally found it. During the final battle, I was shocked to see only one parent actively looking for his kid. And what’s worse, Jason’s dad is looking for him while driving towards the giant monster, and passes three police cars driving the opposite way. At no point do we see the police engage this monster, that is a major problem. You don’t know you live in a world with superheroes yet, why wouldn’t you at least make an attempt? Or even if you don’t try to fight the monster, you should be trying to establish a perimeter to stop civilians from getting hurt. Shameful.
During the fight, there’s more manufactured tension as Goldarr pushes the rangers into a huge crevice full of lava that we’re supposed to believe opened up, despite the fact that we watched him only “dig” 30 feet down. I say “dig” because there was no actual digging, he just punches the ground over and over. As we’re supposed to believe the Rangers are about to die, Billy says “thanks for being my friends, guys.” Fuck you. I get that Toy Story 3 set a pretty high standard but come on. You’re never going to make that standard, so why bother trying? But as they fall into the lava, the Zords combine into the Megazord shocking Rita. Did she not know this was a thing? That’s actually the only explanation for both her surprise and Zordon not telling the Rangers about this feature in advance. And come to think of it, why wouldn’t he have used the Megazord 65 million years ago when he fought Rita the first time?
Side note: the Zords apparently “take the form of the mightiest creatures on the planet.” So how are they going to do the Dragon Zord when Tommy shows up? Because that’s a piece of fan service they give us during the post credits scene, a Tommy Oliver tease. And we’re going to ignore the inclusion of a sabretooth tiger and mastodon as some of the mightiest creatures on earth 65 million years ago.
Second side note: how does the 2017 Megazord look WORSE than the 1993 Megazord? It looks like a rejected transformer from a Michael Bay movie.
The movie ends with Rita’s defeat, and everything goes back to normal in Angel Grove. We get the Tommy Oliver end credits scene, and proof that a sequel is incoming. Ugh. I can’t do this anymore. I usually try to wrap things up with some over arching theme, but I can’t. I’m done here. Love and kisses!
Last week I was lucky enough to be a guest on Dick Flicks, a podcast analyzing male-centric movies created by the very funny and talented Jenna Bradley and Ryn Burns. Our topic was A Few Good Men, and can be found at http://www.dickflickspodcast.com. Check it out!
For anyone who is interested in the other projects I’m working on or wants to be more involved in the creative process, I’ve created a Patreon account! This blog will remain 100% free, so there is no obligation to sign up, but there are exclusive members-only rewards. Check it out! http://www.patreon.com/danwestcomedy