With so many reboots (Spiderman, Beauty and the Beast), you’d think Hollywood ran out of ideas, or was simply running off nostalgia as a major selling point. While the Mighty Morphins are hallmarks of Gen Y’s childhood, this new foray into the origin story of the Rangers will delight fans of any calibre. Director Dean Israelite has signalled his second feature film with strong performances from an engaging ensemble cast and enough alien CGI sequences to put the Transformers to shame.
Jason Scott (newcomer and fellow Aussie Dacre Montgomery) is the rebellious yet headstrong lead Red Ranger, who is a troubled former athlete and now delinquent in detention. Thankfully, he is not surly enough to isolate himself from fellow member Billy (RJ Cyler-Me Earl and the Dying Girl) an autistic boy who is a tech wiz and the token pure, innocent kid in the group. Soon Kimberley Hart (The Martian) steps in after being squeezed out of her girl squad, with Zack Taylor (Ludi Lin) and Trini Kwan (Becky G) following suit as the outsiders. Becky G has especially faced criticism for her role as the fluid yellow ranger, although this is a subtle reference at best. All five are thrown together in a freak accident at the mine, which had literally been set in stone by former alien Zordon (Bryan Cranston) thousands of years ago.
Much of the appeal of the film lies in its awareness that it is a teen story, and so the core issues of bullying, identity, slut-shaming and loss of direction are given substantial meat that is not soppy or soapy. The team naturally gel together in a way that is not contrived, and the usual ego tensions are resolved through clear acknowledgement that yes, you can assemble a rag tag team of teens and form some lasting friendships at the end. It is as much a character driven story as it is an action flick.
Main antagonist Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) is overly dramatic and lives up to her name, but her exaggerated mannerisms can be forgiven since it is clearly a nod to the original TV villain, with some extra spicy relish and zingers. She represents the arc of temptation and loneliness, preying especially on Trini since she is clearly the basket case in the group.
Keep an eye out for the cheeky yet sublime references to other action blockbusters-Jason apologises to “Bumblebee” after flipping over a red car and Billy yells “Yippee Kay Yay!” while trampling a baddie. Explosions and car chases come in good measure, and so it is fitting that we get rewarded with these little gems.
It’s Morphin Time.