I enjoyed Dean Isrealite's last movie, the time-travelling teenager movie 'Project Almanac'. I liked the characters, thought the dialogue was well-written, but the ending ruined it for me. It was like they either ran out of time or money and the movie just fell off at the end. I went from being pleasantly surprised that Michael Bay had something to do with this to being confused, not that Michael Bay made a disappointing movie, but as to what happened at the end.
Well, running out of budget was no problem for Dean Isrealite's latest movie 'Power Rangers', which contains the most obvious product placement for Krispy Kreme Donuts that you have seen since Chris Rock suggested their donuts have crack in them. Literally, the crystal that Rita Repulsa is looking for during the whole movie is buried under the Krispy Kreme ("Krakky Kreme?") in Angel Grove. And the kids hang out there (it IS a small town), practicing some of their kung fu moves by trying to snatch donuts away from each other on the end of forks. A "wax on, wax off" for the new generation.
This new version of 'Power Rangers' (based, of course, on the campy 90's kids show) contains the same kind of well-developed teen characters that 'Project Almanac' had, almost as though Dean wanted to finish his movie. "Dinosaur robots??? Cool??? Why not?" Fans of 80's movies will make comparisons between this movie and 'Breakfast Club', especially since all of these soon-to-be superheroes meet during Saturday detention. And the plot revolves around their characters having to bond and work together as a team. They don't "morph" into their iconic, multi-colored suits if they don't. But instead of writing a letter to the teacher (or to Zordon) about being "the geek, the brain, the spaz etc." they fight monsters and save the town.
Fans of the original show might not like the fact that these heroes do not show up in their iconic armor suits until the end of the movie, but that is what I liked about it. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I don't have a nostalgic pull towards these characters because I did not grow up with the show, so I was "just" looking for a good movie...and I got one. I liked the fact that this movie is a teen drama with sci-fi elements sprinkled in and then all the "wham bam" stuff shows up at the end when the putty hits the fan.
I liked the fact that Billy the Blue Ranger was autistic, for personal reasons. I liked being represented and seeing how nice Jason the Red Ranger would be to me if we ever met. I liked that these characters all felt like real, mischievous kids that I grew up with in the 90's, when I was in high school and too old to be watching the original show. These are truly "teenagers with attitudes", not the goody-two shoes kids that you may remember from the show. You will be able to relate to at least one of these characters. The movie still has positive messages about the importance of trying to understand one another...but without being preachy like the show tended to be.
The sci-fi elements (power coins, Zordon, Alpha 5) are introduced little by little and do get a little over-the-top. But, it doesn't take you out of the movie because you are already invested in these characters and want to see them succeed. Also, since the original show was a little over the top, the filmmakers were trying not to alienate long-time fans. They just gave the characters more backstory and grounded it in a more serious world, before they donned colorful costumes and started driving around in robot dinosaurs...and it works. It all gels together. All of the young actors who play the Rangers are great and Elizabeth Banks is great as (yes, over-the-top) villain Rita Repulsa. Same with Bryan Cranston as Zordon and Bill Hader doing the voice of Alpha 5.
Not sure if long-time fans will disagree, but I liked it. This was the serious, but still-quippy take that I would have loved to see in a TMNT movie. Now, THAT was something I grew up with.
RATING: 3.5 Zords out of 5
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