Review: SABAN'S POWER RANGERS (2017) Proves Its Reboot Worth


I'm like most recovering casuals as of late when it comes to anything remotely having to do with the Tokusatsu genre of film and television. That said, there's still plenty of content to take in from Japanese TV shows and movies, though America's participation in this signals a tremendous and opportune moment for us Westerners as part of the worldwide audience.

Needless to say, if you were a Fox Kids viewer on Saturday mornings, you were never bored and due largely in part to the succession of Toei's succession of their Super Sentai franchise with Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger. Crossing over into North America with producer Haim Saban and Shuki Levy for the longstanding hit series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the show took on multiple evolutions on the small AND big screens, all now preceding Lionsgate and SCG Films on their quest to birth a new big screen franchise reboot starting with Saban's Power Rangers from Earth To Echo helmer Dean Israelite.

The film is now heading onto its fourth week and recent reports have already hinted at what's to come. Even before that, I read certain headlines that had me calling BS a few times because I've become so jaded by fanhype that I hardly lend it the attention, and particularly with certain cult sci-fi properties. That being said, it took me a bit to get used to what the film abbreviates in its two-hour duration, but I mostly like the visage of the overall setting, costumes and even the creatures and zords.

I thought the performances by our principal cast were great even if certain poignant moments felt forced as per the plot's pacing and given all the material the script needed to cover to see our characters grow together and progress into their color-coded suited forms; a big part of this goes to a major plot twist nearing the end of the second act that gives us a reason to care about our characters and their fight to become the team they need to be despite their troubles.

The most utilitarian performance of the film comes from Elizabeth Banks's performance as intergalactic sorceror, Rita Repulsa. Her character stands out in some areas of the film but it doesn't feel as menacing as it should feel for most of her screentime.

The action bodes well; we're given characters that probably don't know much about fighting much less fighting monsters, save for our most noticable pugilist in actor Dacre Montgomery in the role of failed high school football hero Jason Lee Scott. At best, the film takes its time in showcasing our heroes' proficiency in how to handle our much larger gatherum of rock monster putty patrollers, but the central core of this end of the film applies its weight of focus exactly where it needs to, putting substance before style and giving us a reason to care about these newly established fan favorite characters enough for a theatrical ticket price.

I cringed at first sight last year when we caught a first look at the new A.L.P.H.A. 5 iteration voiced by actor Bill Hader and gladly, the film delivered where a mere photo nearly gutted me initially. Yes, it was a relief, and to that end, so was Bryan Cranston's role as Zordon, once the leader of our title rangers only to fall at Rita's treacherous hands. We're shown this at the top of the movie and it's right then and there that you're already being tested when it comes to certain future elements of the film and handling of certain properties therein overall.

Indeed, I can't say this film disappointed me. I won't even diminish the work done here by calling it average. It wasn't perfect, but the pieces are woven together so nicely that as badly and as critical or jaded as you might be about reboots and remakes, you would be lying to yourself (or crazy) if you saw this film and didn't walk away with some sense of accomplishment on the overall narrative.

Easter eggs and expectations notwithstanding, Saban's Power Rangers is a graceful move forward into a something new for the PG-13 crowd. The action is fun, the mechanics of the film's storytelling are well built and functional to most of its purposes, and some of the film's surprises will leave you delighted and maybe even optimistic about what potentially awaits for our new breed of big-screen Ameritoku.

I kind of have my own expectations now. So, my fingers are crossed.



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