Looking for Shreds of Hope in Power Rangers

Jacob Barnes - March 27, 2017

Okay, so the Power Rangers movie was bad. Let’s start there.

This should come as no surprise to most–even from just watching previews. It seemed to be a reversion of the antiquated superhero movie narrative that film studios have desperately tried to move away from: undeniable childishness, with only a surface-level plot, and bad acting. The plot development in this film is poor, the dialogue cringe-worthy, and after two painstaking hours, I walked out of the theater hoping to never have to be subjected to that again.

I am adamant that this is by no means an uncommon observation. The failures of this film were so obvious that even the people involved had to have been aware of its shortcomings. Thus, it feels almost futile to consider this film under a traditional rubric; no, it wasn’t good, but was it ever meant to be good? Perhaps those responsible for the Power Rangers movie, notably director Dean Israelite and the film’s producers, had no intention of it being good. That is not to say that everyone involved committed themselves to making a markedly bad movie, but instead that “good” (that kind of amorphous term) was not the end goal to which they were committed.

So what was the point of this film? In my opinion, the end goal here was to make a marketable action movie that would be almost guaranteed to make a profit. Having seen the movie, my best guess is that this was an investment piece more than anything else. Let’s assess the various components: there is a marketable name in Power Rangers, no major stars and minimal special effects. Under these conditions, the film was guaranteed to draw the demographics of both die-hard Power Rangers fans and kids only now being introduced to the brand. And yet, it did little to properly produce hype and to pay it off in the final product.

Since Power Rangers failed to live up to these expectations, perhaps it attempted to follow a different rubric. In that regard, it (seemingly) did. Its simple, superficial plot is easy to follow, reasonably satisfying, and is unlikely to disappoint hardcore fans, mostly on the basis that there is little to please or satisfy that demographic. The estimated $40+ million first weekend haul isn’t bad for a movie with a budget of roughly $105 million, and according to screenrant.com, is doing better than estimated. In that regard, one needs to give the movie its deserved props. This film is a pretty undeniable failure cinematically, but let us salvage what little we can from this mess.