Written by: Kenzie Tartaglione
I didn’t plan on seeing Power Rangers and I didn’t plan on liking it, but we don’t always get what we expect.
Aside from the fact that the missunderstood white guy is again present in a movie, the inclusivity and diversity was unexpected. Alpha, the obligatory, sassy, talking robot even points it out, “Different colors. Different kids. Different colored kids.” Here is an ensemble team of different kids, following the traditions of the originally ethnically diverse cast. Of course, they’ve amped up the personalities to be interesting instead of one-dimensional. But they went a step further creating a queer or questioning (which is just as important) ranger and a ranger on the autism spectrum who was also a POC male character. Both of which are briefly mentioned, but neither is problematic or seen as their defining characteristic. For Hollywood, this is huge in terms of representation and hopefully a trailblazer for the future.
But let’s get into the movie. It starts out with a group of outsiders all forced into detention together; kids who would not have crossed each other’s paths if not for Billy (Blue Ranger) uncovering the coins. As soon as that happened, these kids had to mature at a breakneck speed. They all of sudden were not only fighting for themselves but for their whole world. It is another story where the teenagers are holding the weight of the world on their shoulders like every other YA sci-fi/fantasy, but this movie knew exactly what it was, and Zordon explicitly points out how crazy that was.
The team is comprised of:
Zack, the Black Ranger who had only ever cared for his ill mother and is too scared to care for anyone else, lest something terrible happens to them. Trini, the Yellow Ranger who had no friends because she never found anyone who could relate to her. Kim, the Pink Ranger who had been shunned and felt like she was not worthy of anyone’s trust or love. Jason, the Red Ranger is a resident screw up who just can’t seem to catch a break wherever he looks. There’s Billy, the Blue Ranger who had to deal with bullies and being called a freak just because people are ignorant of what autism means.
These five outliers found something in common with one another, and the growing friendship between them was a beautiful thing to watch. The highlights being the evolution of Kim and Trini’s friendship, Billy’s willingness to die for the team, and the carrying of Billy’s body because no man can be left behind. And when they realized how interconnected they were, seeing them come to the conclusion that they would all do the exact same thing if it was ever necessary was heart wrenching and powerful. They won because they realized they had to work together completely. They realized they were no longer alone.
Another thing that Power Rangers did was ignore the seemingly always mandatory love story. This was a story of heroes and friendship, not old-fashioned movie tropes. Originally there was supposed to be a kiss between Kim and Jason but it was cut which was possibly the best decision they could have made. It would have seemed out of place and forced. There did not need to be a romantic plotline for this movie to work. And they proved that with the final version of the movie.
Power Rangers was extremely visually pleasing from the opening war scene to the Rangers swimming through the underground lake to the spaceship, to the morphing. The movie was bright and vibrant and vivid. The scene between Kim and Trini where they practiced their reflexes with a fork in the café was not only fun to watch because of their growing friendship but was also masterfully shot. The superhero landing definitely gets a place on this list.
And for those who have been fans of the Rangers since forever, they had some throwbacks: “It’s morphin’ time.” Go Go Power Rangers. The Zords. Amy Jo Johnson.
There were a few questionable moments like there are in every movie. The biggest here is the amount of time it took to actually get to the gist of the movie. First rule, never rush a train. Rita Repulsa was actually repulsive and ultimately extremely cheesy, though her eating a Krispy Kreme donut while destruction roared around her was pretty amusing.
But, they did it all. And they did it all fearlessly.