Power Rangers – When a rag-tag group of teens find mystical coloured stones in a quarry, they soon realise that they have been granted new abilities and super-strength. Discovering an ancient spaceship and its inhabitants, they begin their training to become the ‘Power Rangers’ in order to stop the evil Rita from destroying all life on Earth.
Power Rangers (2017) – Director: Dean Israelite
Running Length: 124 mins
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, RJ Cyler, Naomi Scott
‘POWER RANGERS’ REVIEW
Power Rangers, the Powerhouse kids’ TV show began in the 1990’s. Thanks to its numerous incarnations it has continued to entertain children to this day, and so the inevitable reboot has occurred. ‘Power Rangers’ is the third big screen attempt and a more grown up affair than the previous two. While the TV show can still be seen on channels devoted to programming for young children, the content here may not be what parents expect (or want) their kids to be exposed to. The target audience is firmly set towards adult fans who have grown up with the franchise.
Unfortunately, in its attempt to be ‘gritty’, and its desperation for mass appeal, ‘Power Rangers’ seems to have forgotten that its target audience is young children. Instead, an offensively crass movie has been created. With the exception of the kind-hearted autistic boy, Billy Cranston, the new Power Rangers are virtually impossible to warm to. The unrepentant Jason’s irresponsible behaviour causes a car accident, and Zack’s repeated harassment of fellow Ranger, Trini, despite her repeated rebuttals (his favourite term of endearment for her being ‘crazy girl’ simply because he spies her doing a bit of yoga in the morning) are just two examples.
‘Power Rangers’ biggest problem is a lack of skill in trying to drag up the concept from child-centric origins. So an attempt to cover the very real problem of cyberbullying and using private intimate photos for ‘revenge’ becomes a hamfisted joke, failing to address any concerns with no-one learning from the experience. An obligatory teen girl lesbian cliché that feels clunked in by tortured writing to tick a box rather than for any plot depth. A contrived ‘bonding scene’ is so disingenuous that pages of the script could instead have been thrown roughshod at the screen, as that would be far more enjoyable to watch. ‘Power Rangers’ wants a piece of the teen angst market instead of enjoying its own overblown cartoony concept.
While it may be appealing to some teenagers and adults who want a nostalgia trip, ‘Power Rangers’ is anything but a kids’ movie. Lots of swearing, sexual references and protagonists who make poor role models make it something that’s very unpleasant to watch and is bound to offend most parents, especially those who are watching with children, expecting a fun and exciting children’s film.
IS ‘POWER RANGERS’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
Very early in the movie, two teen boys walk a cow into a school for a prank. It moos several times, indicating that it is in some distress. One of the boys tells the other not to worry as he has just ‘milked her’, the other tells him that this is actually a bull and it is strongly implied that the boy has actually masturbated the cow by accident. He is asked how many udders it has, to which the boy replies ‘one’ and he says that he had to use ‘two hands’.
A bully picks on a boy who has autism, he picks up some of the boy’s pencils and snaps them, one after the other which causes the boy to become upset. Another boy gets into an altercation with the bully and after some provocation slaps the bully extremely hard across the face.
One of the protagonists is under house arrest, he has to wear a device on his ankle and has to be back at home at certain times of the day. A new friend asks the character to visit his home after school and offers to trick the device into thinking they are at home when they aren’t. This inability to accept consequences of one’s poor decisions and a friend’s willingness to break the law are not addressed further in any negative way.
When the ‘Rangers’ first discover their new-found powers, they begin to jump great distances. One of them is very uncomfortable in doing this but, after a particularly big jump the others encourage him to follow them, he doesn’t want to and is extremely scared (bearing in mind that none of them know exactly what they can/can’t do at this point), the others keep shouting at him to jump, piling on the pressure until he does and he narrowly avoids falling from the edge. The old adage of peer pressure ‘would you jump off a cliff if your friends told you too?’ comes to mind here, encouraging children that ‘actually yes, you should!’. In addition, a few of them jump down into a crevice in the rocks; again, one doesn’t want to but is physically dragged into it by another, there is a very small opening which they both narrowly miss. Ignoring what another person wants and railroading or forcing them to do as you please is not necessarily a good message for young, impressionable kids.
Two of the kids go to the local quarry. Without knowing what the other is going to do, one of them leaves them alone (it is unclear but unlikely that any adults know where they have gone). The character who has been left behind plants explosives in the rocks and blows them up, several other characters get caught up in this explosion and one comes very close to severe injury or death. There are no consequences to this character’s actions.
The remains of a seemingly long dead woman are accidentally fished out of the ocean, when characters look closely at her, a quiet exhalation can be heard. When the body is seen wrapped in plastic, the camera zooms up to be close to her face, again the quiet exhalation is heard but then the face moves to look at the camera, her green eyes becoming bright and glowing. When an incidental character goes to see the body, he is attacked by the woman; later the scene shows the boat they were on, a reporter saying that it is ‘a grisly crime scene’ and the man’s dead face is seen floating in water, his eyes are half-closed and his mouth is open.
A homeless man is attacked for his teeth, a woman jumps onto him so that he falls off-camera. Ripping sounds can be heard and then the shadow of them both shows the woman’s hands at the man’s face, he screams as her hands pull away.
After attacking a jewellery store, antagonist Rita is approached by a cop who points a gun at her. When he is unable to stop her, stone creatures rise out of the ground around her, she tells them to ‘kill him’, he shrinks away in fear and cries out as two huge stone hands reach out to grab his shoulders. The camera cuts to Rita walking away from the shop which blows up, presumably killing the innocent people inside.
A character confesses to sharing a friend’s inappropriate (implied nude) photograph which was sent to them in confidence. Up until this scene, this character has been picked on by friends and agreed with when confronted about punching their ex-partner in the face, making the audience side with them. However this revelation shows them to be entirely in the wrong, their subsequent ostracisation justified, and the ex-partner being the one to be sympathised with. In order to begin their confession, the character shares the photograph with a friend again, proving that they have not, in fact, learned anything from what they have done. It is the friend who has to suggest that they delete the image and this does not seem to have occurred to the character before this point. Asking the audience to sympathise with a character who has committed revenge porn, sexting and cyberbullying in one action and have clearly not understood why they shouldn’t have done it is perhaps a stretch too far when parents want to warn their children against becoming victims or perpetrators of such awful actions.
A woman is badly injured with large slashes around their stomach area, green blood oozes around the wounds. After a few seconds, liquid seeps into the wounds, causing the woman to gasp and wince in pain, however it heals her and she quickly gets up, back to full strength.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT – IS ‘POWER RANGERS’ FOR KIDS?
With kids around the world excitedly awaiting a new movie for their beloved ‘Power Rangers’, parents will be quick to take them under the assumption that a kids’ brand with lead to a kids’ film. Unfortunately this movie is anything but child-friendly and families are bound to be disappointed, if not down-right offended, by what they are watching. Having a lot of bad language, less-than-subtle sexual references and protagonists who make terrible choices with little to no consequences, we strongly recommend this movie for over twelves.
- Violence: 3/5 (a character is tied to a wall and a magical staff is held against his neck, he gasps in pain and his eyes roll back, black veins appear on his neck and face. This lasts for around ten seconds. A man is tied to a chair and used as bait, when some characters approach to help him, an antagonist is waiting above the man, jumping and smashing into him; it is likely that he has been killed. During a training montage, a girl kicks a rock monster in the groin, causing it to groan in pain)
- Emotional Distress: 2/5 (an established character is killed when they are dropped into water while tied up. Other characters become distressed and their body is respectfully and poignantly carried to a place where they may be able to be saved. A character becomes upset when talking about their sick mother, they are reluctant to spend much time at home because they know there will be a time when she is gone)
- Fear Factor: 3/5 (Rita is a very scary villain, her decomposing body that comes to life and there are numerous close-ups of her face as she snarls, wide-eyed at the camera. When the teens first find the spaceship where they will find out their destiny, it is initially spooky especially when the walls start to move and trap them inside, one is grabbed by the foot, they scream as they are dragged along the floor by an unseen character)
- Sexual Content: 3/5 (as well as the scenes above, there is also a character watching a young woman undress from a distance. She takes off her top and is seen in her bra, as well as her bare legs up to the hips)
- Bad Language: 4/5 (constant cursing and moderate bad language. One character exclaims ‘holy shhhhi’ before being cut off. One character in excitement yells the ‘Die Hard’ catchphrase ‘Yippie ki yay mother…’ before stopping himself and feeling guilty)
- Dialogue: 2/5 (verbal threats, bullying and peer pressure are recurring issues. One mother demands that her daughter ‘pee in a cup’, implying drug use)
- Other Notes: Contains themes of teen issues, bullying those with disabilities, peer pressure, the power of team, duty to a cause, self-sacrifice, and testing your limits.
Words by Laura Record
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