red film review
18. Lover of Horror, winged eyeliner and H.P Lovecraft. I talk about films a lot and constantly have lipstick on my teeth. I upload DVD, film and horror rela...

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Did you just slap me?

My ear had been to the digital ground since the rumors of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers had hit the net. Throughout the couple of years that it took to go from rumor to trailer, I was optimistic. I was excited with the direction Rita Repulsa was going in. But when the first major trailer hit and the suits were revealed, all my hopes were dashed. The suits reeked of unnecessary modernization and the color scheme of the film had that bleak future tone popularized in angsty teen films like Chronicle and Jumper, which was its own bad sign. The only glimmer of hope was the glowing reviews from some fans and friends. I am here to tell you, as fan of film, camp, sentai, and children’s media, this film does none of them any justice.

The basic plot is the same as the opening lines of the original show; Zordan requires 5 teenagers with attitude. Only, today’s attitude comes with the actual flavor of reality. Each teen suffers from a common issue teens suffer today: Bullying, Autism, Overbearing Parental Expectations, Sexuality, Smartphones, Cancer, Dead Parents, Dying Parents, Dating, Loneliness, Metal Music, and so much more. To be honest, the clearest moments in this film come from the very real problems of adolescence and is by far the shining point of this film. To get back to the plot, the teens come across “coins” that give them superhuman strength (even outside their Ranger suits) which they will need in order to defeat the recently revived Rita Repulsa. The real twist is that Rita and Zordan’s were once teammates. Rita was the original Green Ranger who would go on to betray and destroy the Zordan’s Ranger team way back in the Cenozoic Era of planet earth. A last ditch effort by Zordan, then the Red Ranger, brings a 65 million year sleep, halting the destruction of the earth until new Rangers can be found to take on Rita.

Let’s rewind (look it up kids). This film has an incredible 20 opening minutes. Gritty, real, and instantly gratifying. It would have been fantastic if the camera was aware of this. There are so many dizzying, swirling and sweeping shots in this film, that it almost seems like they thought the story and actors alone couldn’t muster enough interest. There is a very genuine teen film feel to the introduction, with great lines, dirty jokes, and some very raw interactions. But just as quickly as I was impressed, the film appears to forget who their target audience is. It’s not completely the kid friendly camp we grew up with but it never quite becomes adult fare either. The word “Douchebag” is thrown around freely and often, as well as your other favorite teen swears. There are no clever turns of phrase like you might see in Toy Story or Shrek, something fun for the kids and adults. They also repeatedly say they are going to “Kill”. Not beat, defeat, arrest, or destroy, all much more kid friendly terms, but kill with a capital K without any reservations.

There also must be a hefty 30 minutes of film on the cutting room floor. Either that, or the screenplay was absent of common sense. There are moments sprinkled throughout the film missing context because of jump cut goofs or the script not lining up with what the characters are actually doing. At one point, in hope of initiating their mighty morphin’ powers, they are told to stand on the “footprints” around an altar, but when the camera focuses on the altar, there are no footprints to be found. I would have chalked this up to camp, but the film is strangely absent of this on a large scale and tends to randomly throw it around without ever embracing it. It should have been an easy task for the actors to pull off, but they spend most of the film somewhere between primetime network acting and afternoon cable acting, bearing some serious acting chops only to suddenly find themselves in giant robots in a kids film. Basically, this film could not stay on target. Jason (Dacre Montgomery) and Billy (RJ Cyler) have very well defined rapport that was dazzling throughout most of the film, but the rest of the Rangers stories feel tacked on. It feels like they were edited down to the most heartstring strumming parts in an effort to shore up the runtime, which was disappointing.

Ultimately, this film had all the makings of great family cinema classics like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Shrek, or the Toy Story series, but never decides on its audience like the aforementioned films. There is no doubt in my mind that plenty of people will leave the theater somewhat satisfied, tied over by the few great performances found in the film, but for me, it only proved that this film could have been so much better. They should have found the appeal in the simplicity of Sentai camp or went full throttle with the films opening tone and made this for older kids, but somehow they created the kind of grotesque chimera they are on screen to defeat.

~* 6/10 *~