Power Rangers Ultraviolet Code
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly good adaptation
By Mac June grandon May 7, 2017
The Power Rangers TV show wasn't for everyone. A weird mix of action footage from several unrelated japanese TV "Super Sentai" shows and american actors, it was a strange experiment that proved very popular between kids and fans of kaiju movies or japanese action shows in general. I was colorful, but cheesy and at least at first most episodes had the same structure, so people who wanted serious stuff weren't into it. Nevertheless, people liked it enough that it went on for several seasons, changing around cast and setting once they had run out of footage from one show and had to use footage from other ones.
Counting myself between the fans, I dreaded this movie. A couple of years ago someone released on the internet a fan video about a dark take on Power Rangers, and it was very praised, mostly between detractors of the show. I, as a fan, loathed it. It was everything the Power Rangers weren't. Brooding, humorless and dark. It represented everything that was wrong with the current batch of grim and gritty adaptations that plagues Hollywood. If it doesn't work for the source material, it shouldn't be done, and it doesn't work for the Power Rangers just how it didn't work for the Fantastic Four. And the promotional material for this movie made it look like it would follow those steps rather than respect the source material.
Surprisingly, though, this movie respects the TV show much more than expected while working to be more approachable by general audiences. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's fun, engaging and interesting while being proud of its origins rather than embarrased.
Based on the first iteration of the show (Mighty Morphin'), Power Rangers tell the story of a motley crew of students who find themselves in posession of powers granted by an alien called Zordon, who trains them in order to fight the evil Rita, who intends to destroy the planet as a way to make herself more powerful. It's a simple storyline, but it works. This movie is character driven and the characters here are fantastic. The characters are the real strenght of the film. They're so good that it's almost annoying once they stop talking and start fighting.
This is clearly the best approach the filmmakers could take if they intended to keep the spirit of the original TV show. There's humor, there's cheesiness and there's fighting monsters, but the characters keep the audience anchored and engaged. Which is good, because there's not really much to the rest of the film. The action is OK, but not fantastic, and there's very little of it.
You don't even see the Power Rangers in their suits until way late into the movie. The villain is a little bit over-the-top compared to the rest. She'd be right at home on the original show, but the way the other characters are developed she feels a little out of place. Then there's the CGI monsters and robots, that are certainly not as charming as the original rubber suits, but that's pretty much unavoidable these days.
Missteps aside, this is a good first entry in a series. Hopefully the sequel will iron all these kinks and deliver a better film. For now, at least, they're on the right path.