Buy, Rent or Skip Power Rangers (2017)?

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Re: Power Rangers (2017)
« on: February 03, 2018, 10:08:16 pm »
So much to say regarding the Power Rangers movie.

You know I'm a fan of the show... I have a soft spot for it, but I recognize its weaknesses.  And this is the movie I would love to have had a crack at, because there are so many different ways to approach it.  I'm not surprised they went with the Transformers route, but I'm still disappointed.  The vibe I keep getting from the movie is they felt like none of the original stuff worked, so they would just add sh*t on until it did.  The suits are a great example of this: messy, convoluted, and hard to tell what you're looking at.

I agree with you that the characters were weak.  I do have a soft spot for Trini, but mostly because she's insanely similar to a character I was writing for my high school movie, a sort of Bender/Allison hybrid.  I know you didn't care for Zach (I keep wanting to call him "Adam" after, you know, the actual Asian Black Ranger from season 2), but Billy was the worst for me because he was just whiny and needy, a sort of caricature of someone on the spectrum.

It's also funny you mention the girls because in real life, they're opposite personalities.  Kimberly is more like Trini and Trini is more like Kimberly.  Also, I have to point out that Naomi Scott was in this movie called Lemonade Mouth which is somehow MORE of a Power Rangers movie than the Power Rangers movie, it's about five different kids all stuck in DETENTION, again, somehow, who form a band and it's terrible, but I just thought it was a weird coincidence how similar that movie was.

The teens.. what sucks about the teens is that they're adorable AF in real life.  I loved watching all those bts interviews and everything they did on the promo tour, I wanted to see THEM in the movie.  I'm all for them having moods and all, but they didn't look like they were having fun on screen.

I'm all for the idea of them being... not "evil" versions of themselves, but  flawed mirror versions of that (I joked back in the day about Kazan from Cube as Billy), but I didn't see that much of the originals in them.  It was sort of like the reboot of Star Trek, one trait becomes magnified and becomes the whole character.  Sulu fenced ONCE and now he's got the ninja moves, Kirk had some romances and now he's just bangin' every alien in sight (the the BEASTIE BOYS!?)  That's what it felt like.

Rita... see, the thing is that Elizabeth Banks could play the TV version of Rita amazingly.  The best way to think of Rita is Hocus Pocus, that's what you want.  Goofy, over-the-top, but actually dangerous.  She's just an evil witch from space with weird monsters (a warrior, a tinkerer, a jester, an advisor, and an army of putties), she doesn't need to be edgy, she just needs to be effective enough and fun to watch.   Elizabeth Banks didn't have anyone to play off of for most of her scenes.

I'm still amazed that they got Bryan Cranston in this, it still doesn't compute.  It's a weird choice, for sure, the character was always kind of Wizard Of Oz/Gandalf-y, a proper wizard with a modern twist.  Bryan Cranston is just a guy, it's interesting because it kind of undercuts your expectations, but it's just a little strange.  Maybe if Alpha was played more like his frantic original self, that contrast might have worked better, I dunno.  Having two guys in that setting feels... odd.  It doesn't seem like there's enough contrast.

The fight sequences were cool enough, I guess, but you know what the big issue is, and that's been plaguing every attempt at a Power Rangers movie?  The plots don't scale that high.

A typical Power Rangers episode is only 20 minutes long and it goes by at a quick clip (which is also why it can get away with being uneven or nonsensical, you don't have time to think about it).  Basically, a Ranger has a problem, Rita creates a plan centered around that problem, the Rangers try to solve the problem but can't, they get some words of wisdom from Zordon or maybe take what they learned to form a plan, they fight again and are successful, the monster grows, there's the robot fight, and then the Rangers ride that momentum to fix the problem in their personal lives.  It's quick, efficient, and it works.  It also means that you have maybe a third of the episode using stock footage of spandex suits and robot suits and so on.  With the movies, you get the same amount of time but that takes the chunk of time in the story to about 7-10% of the movie which is NOT enough to be satisfying.  Really, you want an action sequence every 20 pages, think T2, The Matrix, or even The Raid. 

And also, this is a big issue: the movie is basically a big toy commercial ... but the toys are f*cking ugly.  The suits, the robots... a kid can't draw that, it's too complex to form an emotional attachment to in the short time we spend with it.  Trasnformers had this problem too.  Another issue is that the Ranger toy market was straight up oversaturated, there were the retro 93 toys for the old-school fans, the toys based on the current show for the new fans, and now these expensive ugly-*ss new ones?  That's no good.  Now, I know Star Wars has this issue as well, but it's not to that insane degree.

Before the movie came out, Twitch did a live-stream of the old show (it took something like 21 DAYS to show every episode since 1993) ... and it was a LOT of fun and it's more or less what the audience WANTED.  The movie was trying to be dark and edgy and new (or not new, since it was so similar to all these other YA properties), the movie they should have been emulating was The Brady Bunch Movie!  Embrace the cheese, stick with the old visual motif, but be self-aware, embrace the corniness, do a highlight reel of the best moments and memories of the show, and then just do the action stuff as great action stuff and I think that would have been enough.

I especially think this would have been the way to go after that insane Joseph Khan R-rated Power Rangers "parody" that came out a few years ago.  Any "dark, edgy/serious" take would just pale in comparison, so just go whole hog, embrace the roots.  It's cheesy and silly and that's okay, doubly so in a world FULL of superhero movies.  I know it's a bit of a tough sell, but a big reason Lionsgate pulled the trigger on the movie was because people were buying so many of the old DVDs, there was a demand for that, so why would you make something so far off the mark from that?  It's something I don't understand about nostalgia filmmaking, upgrades and polishes are one thing, but what's the point of turning it into something it's not?  It's like being hungry for spaghetti and someone gives you meatloaf instead and insists that it's spaghetti.  That's what the remake of Star Trek and Ninja Turtles and Transformers and way too many of these movies feel like.

That's why I'm digging the Boom! Studios Power Ranger comic, it IS the right kind of upgrade and it is something that's accessible to a modern audience.  I've mentioned it on the boards a few times because it's literally the best example I've come across of how to bring something back right.  It's pretty close to the original (they didn't get Bulk and Skull right, but NO one does), the characters are more fleshed out and contemporary but still identifiable as the original characters, the stakes and the scale are epic and cinematic yet the visual language is exactly what it was in the show: spandex suits, simple dinosaurs, floating head, weird witch... and it all works.

It looks like we're not getting a sequel, and I can't say I'm that surprised about that... part of me is curious, but at the same time they'd be redoing Green With Evil and it would be like Star Trek Into Darkness, a retread of something that's pretty universally popular and done well enough the first time around.  Those are the episodes that EVERYONE remembers and the shock value of it just cannot be reproduced, like making a second Jurassic Park.  You can't do that, it's not amazing anymore.  So I feel maybe bullet dodged there.  I mean, "there's a SIXTH Power Ranger and he's EVIL... AND sexy AND he just keeps kicking their *sses over and over!?"  It wasn't even that ORIGINAL when it happened, but it really resonated because it was a five episode event.  This sh*t happened over FIVE. WEEKS.  When you are a kid, that is HUGE.  That is an impossible mountain for a movie to climb.

Oh, and if you haven't seen it, here are all the Green Ranger battles:

What I'm really curious to see is the Lego Ninjago Movie, because... that's f*cking Power Rangers as well.  I want to know how they did it, what their approach was.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2018, 10:41:51 pm by Neumatic »


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