Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 2, 2023)
Back in the 1990s, TV’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers became a major hit with the kids – and a bit of a cultural phenomenon. In 2017, the franchise attempted a revival with a big-screen film called Saban’s Power Rangers.
In a small town called Angel Grove, five teens lead fairly ordinary lives. These kids happen upon an alien ship, and this encounter grants them special powers.
After much training, they become Power Rangers. They need to defend the Earth from Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks), an alien who seeks to conquer the Earth.
Due to my age, the TV Power Rangers became a program I heard a lot about but never actually watched. I was in my mid-20s when the show broke through in the US, and that placed me a good 15 years too old for it.
That said, I remember the series’ enormous popularity. I work with kids and I recall a few years there where every elementary-age student I saw obsessed over Power Rangers.
Inevitably, the franchise lost that enormous juice over time, and I assumed it vanished from the airwaves. However, the series never really went away, and it remains active.
This surprised me, and not just because the kids in my schools seemed to lose touch with Power Rangers around 1996. I also thought this 2017 movie existed as a total reboot of a dormant franchise.
While Power Rangers never disappeared, this movie does function as a restart of sorts – though based on my superficial knowledge of the series, it went through a lot of different iterations. That means not every version focused on the same characters.
The film does appear to act as a revival of the original US characters, though. We clearly find a flick that throws back to the 1990s Rangers, likely in an attempt to lure original viewers who’re now parents as well as the youngsters.
Speaking as a mid-50s dude who never watched the series and thus enjoys no nostalgia for it, does Rangers boast actual entertainment value? Not really, though perhaps not for the reasons one might expect.
Whereas the original series offered the cheesiest of campy cheap TV cheese, the film comes with vastly superior production values – and a much more serious vibe. In a clear mistake, Rangers opts for a “PG-13” rating.
At its core, Power Rangers feels like a product for pre-adolescents. In theory, I guess I can’t think of a reason the project can’t adapt for older kids, but it doesn’t feel like a natural fit for teens or adults.
I get why the producers wanted the film to go “PG-13”. “PG” now feels like “kiddie territory”, as it replaced the essentially dead “G” rating as the one that offers safe family fare.
This means a lot of kids will avoid a “PG” movie, as it seems too “juvenile” to them. Financially, I understand the reason Rangers opted for the “PG-13”.
Nonetheless, it feels wrong for a franchise as inherently goofy as Power Rangers. While the movie doesn’t go “too hard”, it nonetheless opts for a level of darkness and seriousness that disconnect from the source.
It doesn’t help that Rangers moves at a slooooow pace. Look, I get that “origin stories” tend to take a while to get to the action, and with so many “main characters” involved, this complicates matters even more.
Nonetheless, Rangers feels sluggish and dull as it plods through the exposition. It takes forever to reach the main plot.
Heck, we don’t even reach the inevitable “training montage” until about halfway into the film. While the film does advance some of the narrative, it simply dawdles too much along the way.
One problem stems from the nature of the characters, as they feel like clichés. Rangers openly borrows from 1985’s Breakfast Club, and that derivative vibe translates to the one-dimensional roles.
We also just get no real cleverness or spark along the way. The long exposition makes the movie proceed at a snail’s pace, and nothing improves much when the primary plot kicks into gear.
Rangers enjoys the basic potential to deliver something fun. However, it feels stale and without creativity.
I end up with the impression those involved hoped the combination of name-brand recognition and nostalgia from those 90s-kids-now-parents would carry the day. This means we find a flat and uninspiring movie.
Footnote: a cute tag scene appears early in the end credits.
The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A/ Bonus B+
Saban’s Power Rangers appears in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This became a strong Dolby Vision presentation.
Overall definition worked well. Nary a sliver of softness crept into this tight image.
I saw no shimmering or jagged edges. In addition, the image lacked edge haloes or print flaws.
Unsurprisingly, Rangers leaned toward a lot of teal and amber. I would’ve liked something that deviated from the norm, but within its parameters, the hues seemed positive. HDR gave the tones added impact and range.
Blacks were deep and dark, while shadows showed nice clarity and smoothness. HDR brought greater oomph and power to whites an contrast. Across the board, the movie looked great.
I also felt consistently pleased with the excellent Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Rangers. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the soundscape used all the channels on a frequent basis, and this led us to an exciting sonic experience from start to finish.
The various speakers provided lots of information that filled out the movie and blended together in a seamless manner. Explosions, vehicles, fights – you name it and it blasted all around us. This formed a dynamic soundscape with a lot to offer.
In addition, audio quality seemed strong. Music was bold and full, and even with a lot of looped lines, dialogue remained crisp and natural.
Effects appeared lively and vivid, with clear highs and deep lows. I felt pleased with this impressive soundtrack.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Both sported identical audio.
As for the Dolby Vision image, it presented the native 4K film well, with superior colors, blacks and delineation. This turned into a top-notch visual presentation.
As we head to extras, we get an audio commentary with director Dean Israelite and writer John Gatins. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, editing and cut scenes, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, various effects, stunts and action, costumes, and related domains.
Israelite and Gatins provide an engaging track that moves at a nice pace. They cover a solid array of subjects and make this an informative little chat.
A nine-part documentary called The Power of Present fills a total of two hours, 20 minutes, 12 seconds. It includes comments from Israelite, Gatins, creator/producer Haim Saban, producers Brian Casentini and Marty Bowen, makeup FX designer Toby Lindala, VFX supervisor Sean Faden, production designer Andrew Menzies, senior concept designer Paul Tobin, specialty costume supervisor Luke Hawker, stunt coordinator Larry Lam, costume designer Kelli Jones, technical director Tim Bobyk, composer Brian Tyler, and actors RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G, Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, Elizabeth Banks, Bill Hader, Amy Jo Johnson, Jason David Frank, and Bryan Cranston.
“Present” examines the history of Power Rangers and its path to a reboot, story/characters, cast and performances, various effects, costumes, stunts and action, sets and locations, music and audio, and the movie’s release.
With more than two hours at its disposal, one would expect a lot of insights from “Present”. And one would anticipate correctly – to a degree, as we get a fair amount of fluff along the way.
For instance, the final of the nine segments just shows the red carpet at the premiere and comes with nothing more than happy talk. Still, the overall package delivers more than enough useful content to make the program worth a look.
18 Deleted/Alternate/Extended Scenes span a total of 33 minutes, 39 seconds. Most of these focus on general character exposition.
Those don’t really add to the roles in meaningful ways. We get a few more fun clips, though, such as the way Jason convinces Billy to cover up the loss of his family’s van.
Outtakes go for three minutes, 41 seconds and mostly focus on bloopers. However, we find some improv material – mainly from Bill Hader – that adds value to the set.
The disc opens with ads for a videogame called Power Rangers: Legacy Wars, the Hunger Games Complete 4-Film Collection, The Divergent Series: Allegiant and Bow You See Me 2.
We also find the movie’s trailer, though oddly, we can view it only with commentary from Israelite and not on its own. He provides decent notes but it feels annoying we can’t see it on its own.
A second disc offers a Blu-ray copy of Power Rangers. It includes the same extras as the 4K.
Power Rangers reboots the 1990s TV franchise with a thud. The movie takes itself far too seriously and feels slow and dull. The 4K UHD brings strong picture and audio as well as a solid roster of bonus materials. The film fails to make a positive impact.
To rate this film, visit the original review of SABAN'S POWER RANGERS