Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
Joel interviews the MIFF team to find out what's in this year's program announcement! Click to listen to our special SWITCHCast ep now.x
review, Power Rangers, Power, Rangers, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, Rj Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bill Hader, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Caroline Cave, Dean Israelite, Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi film rating




By Daniel Lammin
21st March 2017

The Power Rangers were a defining part of the 90s childhood landscape. An American re-appropriation of the Japanese series ‘Super Sentai’, ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ launched a huge television and merchandising phenomenon, all the more surprising because of how non-sensical and poorly put together it was. It makes sense then that, in the current wave of nostalgia-driven film and television, the premise of super-charged teenagers fighting to save the Earth from alien invaders would be resurrected on the big screen. With the hallmarks of the series always being big, cheesy and silly, you’d be forgiven for dismissing ‘Power Rangers’ before it has even opened. The surprise is that this might not be one deserving of dismissal.

Five teenagers - football jock Jason (Dacre Montgomery), socially awkward Billy (RJ Cyler), ex-cheerleader Kimberley (Naomi Scott), bad boy Zack (Ludi Lin) and rebellious Trini (Becky G.) - find themselves forming an unlikely team when they stumble upon a buried space ship. Though they are all different from one another, they’re forced to come together and take on the mantle of the Power Rangers, an ancient alien squad protecting the universe, when the threat of fallen Ranger Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) arrives in their town.

I’ll be honest, I hated the Power Rangers when I was a kid. I thought they were cheap and dumb. With this mentality, I went into director Dean Israelite’s film, which just made me all the more surprising how thoroughly enjoyable and surprisingly accomplished ‘Power Rangers’ actually is. Bolstered by a pretty solid script by John Gatins, the film somehow finds a way to (mostly) circumnavigate the ridiculous premise and DNA of the franchise by focusing on these five kids and their relationships with one another. All the superhero and teen clichés are ticked off, but here they’re given time to breathe and develop, with some surprisingly sophisticated concepts thrown in. We might have seen films like this before, but there’s a thread of honesty and care taken with these characters that gives the film more soul than any conventional superhero film in a very long time. The fact that you come to genuinely care for each of the Rangers and their backstory is a real achievement, and shows that there is room for detail and drama within the often limiting superhero framework. It might look like someone smushed ‘Chronicle’ and ‘Transformers’ together, but thankfully it’s more the former than the latter.


It’s also a cracking piece of filmmaking from Dean Israelite, who injects the film with a visual flare and daring that often takes you by surprise. There are some beautiful and thrilling sequences in ‘Power Rangers’, and while his handling of the bigger action sequences can occasionally get muddy, the majority of the film (which essentially plays out like a snappy teen drama) is executed brilliantly. There are so many ways this film could have fallen into the trap of being conventional and brainless, but for the most part its great cinematography, editing, design, score and direction keep it comfortably above water. Where the film does stumble is where it has to deal with the alien cosmic mumbo-jumbo and painfully 90s tropes from the series, but you can’t entirely blame the film for its source material. You have to have the characters with ridiculous names and a preposterous back story, but at least it understands that these things are silly and occasionally throws a wink at the audience so they know. This mostly affects the latter part of the film, but once again, the spectacle of the finale (as familiar as we are with seeing robots fight one another on a suburban street) is sprinkled with the right amount of character detail, and once it’s all behind it, the film just moves past the cheesy stuff.

It also helps that the central five actors are a genuine delight, and have enormous chemistry with one another. On their own they occasionally have trouble grappling with the more obvious emotional beats, but as a collective you believe the care and affection they have for one another. RJ Cyler is a particular standout as Billy, who deals with his character’s autism with sensitivity and integrity while also managing to be a sheer delight every moment he’s on screen. It’s a big deal to have a teenage hero with autism in a teen superhero film, and the filmmakers should be commended for that. The film also features an actual and well-handled queer character, and I don’t mean in the blink-and-you’ll-still-miss-it crap Disney put in ‘Beauty and the Beast’. So much of this film is about the teenager experience, and the filmmakers have made this film with an awareness of the way teens want to see themselves represented on screen and in the world.

The fact that you come to genuinely care for each of the Rangers and their backstory is a real achievement, and shows that there is room for detail and drama within the often limiting superhero framework.

You also have Elizabeth Banks bringing the star power and as much camp as she can muster as Rita Repulsa. Banks is clearly having a ball being as bad as she can be and chewing the scenery, and her ridiculous performance acts as a nice balance to the sincerity of the Rangers. You also get Bryan Cranston and Bill Vader turning up in surprising places, and probably the cheekiest treatment of product placement since ‘Jurassic World’.

I’m not going to come out and say that ‘Power Rangers’ is a great film, but it’s certainly a damn good one, far better than I think anyone was expecting and the first cinematic surprise of the year. It’s a top-class piece of young adult entertainment, crafted with sincerity, intelligence and a lot of fun. I haven’t been as entertained by a superhero film this much since ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, and with this clearly being a franchise set-up, I sincerely hope we get to see more from this series. In the midst of this nauseating nostalgia cyclone we’re stuck in, it’s great to see filmmakers actually enriching and playing with the material for a change, and a great surprise that it happens to be from the cheesiest, crappiest show of the 90s. So take a punt, switch off your brain and blast off with those Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. You might have a much greater time than you’d ever expect.

RELEASE DATE: 23/03/2017
RUN TIME: 2h 4m
CAST: Dacre Montgomery
Naomi Scott
Rj Cyler
Becky G
Ludi Lin
Bill Hader
Bryan Cranston
Elizabeth Banks
David Denman
Caroline Cave
DIRECTOR: Dean Israelite
PRODUCERS: Wyck Godfrey
Roberto Orci
Marty Bowen
Haim Saban
Brian Casentini
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
Who the hell is Bloodshot? - A primer on Vin Diesel's superhero
TRENDINGWHO THE HELL IS BLOODSHOT?A primer on Vin Diesel's superhero
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
Gallipoli - A powerful and important film remembered
TRENDINGGALLIPOLIA powerful and important film remembered
The World at War - The landmark documentary series restored in high definition
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
Malila: The Farewell Flower - Contemplating love and loss
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two - New villains, same problems
Buckley's Chance - Not worth a chance
Calm with Horses - A savage and sensitive Irish crime drama
TRENDINGCALM WITH HORSESA savage and sensitive Irish crime drama
Shiva Baby - A comedy of discomfort
TRENDINGSHIVA BABYA comedy of discomfort
The Glass Room - Stunning yet soulless
TRENDINGTHE GLASS ROOMStunning yet soulless
Some Kind of Heaven - A bizarre lens into a Floridian retirement village
TRENDINGSOME KIND OF HEAVENA bizarre lens into a Floridian retirement village
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
The Swallows of Kabul - Unflinching and gorgeously animated
TRENDINGTHE SWALLOWS OF KABULUnflinching and gorgeously animated
Cerulean Blue - Promising debut for a new voice in Australian cinema
TRENDINGCERULEAN BLUEPromising debut for a new voice in Australian cinema
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
2:22 - Mind-bending metaphysical mumbo-jumbo
TRENDING2:22Mind-bending metaphysical mumbo-jumbo
Birds of Prey - I'm here to report a terrible crime: DC has saved cinema
TRENDINGBIRDS OF PREYI'm here to report a terrible crime: DC has saved cinema
La Dolce Vita - Not as sweet as you'd think 60 years on
TRENDINGLA DOLCE VITANot as sweet as you'd think 60 years on
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!