Posted on Monday, March 20th, 2017 by Jacob Hall
The new Power Rangers movie hits theaters this week and the first reviews have begun to warp in. But are the critics assembling their Zords to do battle on behalf of the movie or against it? Right now, the early buzz seems mixed, with some critics praising the film’s action and sense of humor, while others say that we’ve seen this kind of movie too many times before. Let’s take a closer look at the first Power Rangers reviews have to say.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Justin Lowe was very positive on the film, noting that the film’s sense of humor helps smooth over rough edges:
Whether they’re dealing with bullying, alienation or sexual orientation, these teens are more three-dimensional than their Ranger predecessors, but eventually this repetitive effort to emphasize their relatability becomes so heavy-handed as to appear transparently manipulative. However, some judiciously timed humor, frequently aimed at Billy’s tech obsessions or Zordon’s sarcastically judgmental attitude toward his young proteges, helps curtail the self-consciously jokey tone of the earlier films.
Owen Gleiberman at Variety was less positive, but he also recognizes the film’s charms:
After 90 minutes of hip and hollow teen banter, woefully generic origin story, and molehill-posing-as-mountain-size triumph (our heroes spend half the film learning how to morph, when all that comes down to is getting their color-coordinated chintzy plastic sci-fi armor suits to snap into place), “Power Rangers” finally uncorks one of those high-flying digital-blitzkrieg action finales that was mocked in “Birdman” as the essence of blockbuster decadence. It is indeed, but to put it in movie-junk-food terms: Just because you know a sequence like this one is bad for you doesn’t mean that it’s not fun to watch.
Alonso Duralde of The Wrap was very warm on the film, praising the cast and the action:
Yes, this is silly stuff, although the movie manages to play most of it with a straight face. Cranston, for one, never indicates that he’s slumming, and Banks does some interestingly weird creeping about as Rita until she regains her full power, at which point she goes deep into Faye-Dunaway-in-“Supergirl” territory. And speaking of “Supergirl,” points to “Power Rangers” for not repeating one of that movie’s biggest mistakes; here, the small-town set that becomes the location for the big heroes vs. villain fight looks more town and less set than we frequently get, even in pricey superhero movies. (Take another look at “Thor,” and you’ll see what I mean.)
IndieWire’s David Ehrlich praised the film’s inclusiveness, but wished it was more willing to embrace its crazy, kids’ show roots:
The film is a blast during the few brief moments when it embraces the cartoon craziness that’s made the television show into such a cultural fixture, but it sheepishly backs away from every one of these giddy indulgences as if it’s afraid of getting caught with a hand in the cookie jar; why play the series’ unforgettable theme song (“Go Go, Power Rangers!”) if you’re going to cut it off after just a few bars? If only “Power Rangers” had the courage to put down its mask and work with its audience.
Germain Lussier of io9 was disappointed by the film, saying that it sidesteps being an actual Power Rangers movie whenever possible:
For its majority, Power Rangers is a heavy-handed, character-forward teen drama with a little bit of Rangers stuff sprinkled in. It’s way, way less interested in the characters as color-coded superheroes than it is with their struggles to grow up and accept the responsibility of being Power Rangers. It’s not a bad story, but it’s so devoted to its teen drama it doesn’t have time for fighting and Zords and everything that makes the franchise fun, so overall the movie feels wildly uneven and, ultimately, disappointing.
Let’s wrap this up with Scott Mendelson’s Forbes review, which reads as pleasantly surprised by the whole thing:
As someone with no strong feelings for the Power Rangers franchise (I hated it as a kid and came to appreciate its charms as a parent), this is an interesting attempt to craft a grounded and character-driven adaptation, one that successfully blends genre with larger-than-life superhero spectacle. And if you might find it absurd to have a somber and violent Power Rangers movie, then we should note that it can coexist with the 800-plus episodes of the more kid-friendly televised variation. At its best, Power Rangers is a throwback to the likes of Masters of the Universe and the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. It’s from a time when getting a darker, more serious big-budget feature based on your favorite kid-friendly property, one that felt like a real film, was a rare and splendid thing.
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