So, not too long ago, I had this genius idea: I would get stoned and watch films that were CERTAIN to be offbeat. I would watch films that were either “stoner films” or I would watch films that were bizarre or ridiculous to watch even sober. Surely, the marijuana would enhance that bizarreness. After all, I live in a state where it’s legal. And, sure as shit, I was right. What’s the first film I really decided to do this with, you ask? None other than the 2017 Power Rangers film, as suggested by my significant other. And when I tell you that I was not ready, I mean it. I was NOT ready.
I went into the film completely blind. The only thing I really knew is that Elizabeth Banks was in the film and that, overall, the film was negatively received. Well, right from the beginning, it was a lot. The film begins with aliens at the time of dinosaurs, immediately followed by a weird conversation between two high school boys about accidentally jerking off a cow instead of milking it and I wish I was kidding. Nothing would have prepared me for that opening. Somebody could have directly told me that that’s how Power Rangers starts out and I would have told them that they were lying. Why would they start out this “suppose to be for children” film in such an odd way? And I don’t have an answer for you. I am still shocked by this.
At approximately three minutes and thirty seconds into the film, I had to pause it in order to really comprehend everything that was going on. It was already too much and we hadn’t even hit the five minute mark. Then the title card pops up on the screen and I feel like I’m watching an indie coming-of-age story. I’m quickly reminded that I am not in fact watching an indie coming-of-age story by the unbelievably chunky and clunky dialogue. There’s absolutely no flow or ease to any of the conversations happening. I literally felt like these actors were just reading the script to me.
Enter Candace Cranston and her son Billy. The first interaction with both of these characters is something that still leaves me confused. The “main” character Jason, played by Dacre Montgomery (who I do not believe for even a second that he is of high school age), knocks on the door of the Cranston household, looking for Billy. Candace Cranston, played by Lisa Berry, has the most bizarre reaction to this literal high school child being at her door. “Oh my god! Jason Scott!” she exclaims. I’m sorry, what? I didn’t understand what was happening. I still don’t. She’s also the only adult in the film that reacts this way, which makes it even weirder and, honestly, I wish I could just forget all about this film but, even though I watched it high, it is still burned in my brain forever.
There were so many weird little moments all within just the first hour of the film. There’s a random baseball trophy next to Jason at one point that’s used solely as a prop he can destroy to really show us how mad he is. His “no way” reaction to seeing a girl in her bra and underwear go swimming. He’s the star of the football team and looks the way he does. Am I to honestly believe he’s never seen a woman in what is the equivalent of a bikini before?
There’s obviously a joke about the Black Power Ranger being black, even though he is, in fact, not black. Like, I knew that joke was coming. You can see it from a mile away. But it was lazy and forced and just made me so uncomfortable.
If you’ve seen the film then maybe you can answer the next question: what exactly is the morphing grid, in this film in particular? Because they never once explain it. They talk about it constantly. Everyone is always talking about the morphing grid. But I still don’t know what it is really.
Throughout the film, we somehow get all this exposition while simultaneously getting absolutely no explanation at all. And that’s just bad writing. We got background on everything that didn’t matter and barely any background on the things that did, or things that we didn’t even need to know anything about. The best example I have of this is Jason’s dad being a fisherman. When I tell you that I was confused when he showed up on the boat out of nowhere…
The inconsistency in writing still bothers me. At first, the teenagers are told that whether they morph or not, they have to train. Cool. Then they’re told, after training hard, that they aren’t Power Rangers because they didn’t morph. But, they focused more on the training because you said it wouldn’t matter if they morphed or not, and they assumed they’d still have to fight this scary Repulsa woman and then it gets turned around on them and they probably didn’t morph because you spent, like, no time on it because you spent all the time training them to fight and never even really bothered to explain what “morphing” was. Sorry. Please address that last sentence directly to Zordon, played by Bryan Cranston.
Now, let’s talk about one of the best things in the film, in my opinion, through my slightly-closed, red eyes: Elizabeth Banks. When I say that this woman gave this performance her all, I mean it. Banks played Rita Repulsa, which I still think is one of the most badass names in the history of the world. Unfortunately, not even this performance can save this film.
How many teenage boys had Rita Repulsa as their sexual awakening?
How many teenage girls, for that matter?
I cannot remember the last time I was lied to this much in a film. Let me just go down a brief list of lies we are told and times that the film just straight up ignores any kind of physics:
- Kimberly has perfect hair after she herself chops it off in the school bathroom. It’s perfectly styled. Yeah, sure. Tell that to every person that’s ever tried to just even cut their bangs themselves.
- Trini falling down the hill like a bouncy ball and being completely fine at the bottom.
- The minivan having no damage after driving through a padlocked metal gate.
- Zack straight up landing on top of a speeding minivan, pre-powers, and NOBODY QUESTIONING ANY OF IT AT ALL. LIKE IT WAS A COMPLETELY NORMAL AND REASONABLE THING TO DO.
- Nobody ever dieing or being injured from any kind of accident. You may argue that that’s because it’s suppose to be a children’s film. But, I see that argument and raise you the cow jerking off convo from the first five minutes of the film.
Honestly, all of these lies were red flags given to me early on in the film. I should have known the rest of the film would be the same way. I should have been prepared for absolutely nothing to make sense.
The only good part of this film, sans Elizabeth Banks’ performance, was the last twenty or so minutes. Once the characters finally morph and fight, it feels just like the old television show. It transported me right back to Saturday mornings watching Fox Kids. And then, their use of Kanye West’s “Power” just made me hyped in the end. And I hate that this film did that. I’m still mad about even now as I sit here and write this.
However, the attempt to bring about this nostalgic feel is quickly smashed with the inclusion of a “Stand By Me” cover and a heavy 1980s-esque aesthetic. Which makes no sense. At all. The original Power Rangers series began in 1993. They were doing so well with that ending and then it just took such a left turn. Like, my dudes, it’s not even the right decade.
Anyway, in the words of Cher: