For any of us who grew up with the Power Rangers (which is likely a majority seeing the number of years they have spanned) have either already seen the movie, or are looking to check it out upon its release on DVD. Below I will give an overview of the movie itself followed by a review of the special features included on the different DVD releases:
The film opens with a large exposition introducing the audience to the teenagers with attitude. Each individual fits some type of the cliche high school student, and while some have been put off by this, it actually is a strong reflection of the 1990's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which gave a nostalgic feel to a modern take. I did feel that there was a bit too much focus on the "attitude" of each individual. Yes, the original series stated that they had this attitude, but the movie made each one seem extremely troubled, which has rightfully brought on comparisons to The Breakfast Club. On the positive end, Billy's subtle humor definitely stood out. He wasn't over-the-top, but still had some good one-liners, and RJ Cycler did a great job portraying the character of Billy in new way, yet still paying homage to the original, David Yost.
I also enjoyed the training session of the Rangers. Even though their powers were heightened by the power crystals, they still required training in order to gain access to their armor. This made their rise to be Rangers more realistic. The original series did not require this, and made the teens seem more dependent on their morphed state. This section also gave more credibility to Alpha, who was mainly comic relief in the 90s, but gave him a sense of purpose, especially in Zordon's absence.
Rita Repulsa was also pretty frightening. Elizabeth Banks makes the character her own, and does a great job giving Rita a more evil tone, especially in her earlier appearances in the film, mauling a man for his gold tooth, and her nightmarish encounter with Trini. The updated version was much better than the dubbed over version we were used to in the original series. Rita's involvement in the action was also a positive part of the movie. The original series usually had her pulling the strings from afar, but this take had her right in the middle of the battles. Some people weren't happy that Rita was a Green Ranger, and Zordon was a Red Ranger, but I thought it brought a new, interesting and improved take to the franchise.
Another issue some had were the Zords, but I thought they looked fine. I loved the nod to the traditional Power Rangers' theme song as the Zords came rushing into action! The individual Zords were used much more than they were in the original series, eventually combining to form MegaZord for the climax of the film.
The movie did have its issues. The exposition was pretty long. There was a bit of action at the beginning with Zordon and Rita, then the car chase scene, but rather than that it took a good 50 minutes to get to any real action. I feel that a majority of the fanbase would have already been Power Ranger fans, so such a long lead up to actually becoming the Rangers seemed a bit needless.
The lack of the actual Power Rangers was another issue. Due to the continual build-up through a majority of the movie, viewers barely got to see exactly what they came for...the Power Rangers. True, there have been other movies where we haven't seen much of the lead attraction (Batman Begins), but the balance of the story made up for that. In Power Rangers, the focused seemed to be establishing the in-depth characteristics of each of the team members rather than action. Now I do feel that some of this development was good, and necessary, because it did give us a chance to connect with each of the characters, but there could have been a better balance leaving fans with more of the action we were anticipating. It came across as a teen drama at times rather than an action, superhero movie.
Goldar's appearance...no need to go there. I am pretty sure everyone else out there has covered it.
My last gripe was that the famous, "It's morphin time!" line was fairly anticlimactic, especially coming off of Zordon's sacrifice.
Overall, I thought the movie was good. It definitely pays homage to the original, and while I would have liked to have seen more of the Rangers, I feel that a sequel will be even better as I hope it would focus on the Green Ranger.
Special Features -- Below is a breakdown of all the features accompanied by my review of each section:
4K/BLU-RAY/ DIGITAL HD SPECIAL FEATURES:
· Audio Commentary with Director Dean Israelite and Writer John Gatins:
-- An interesting viewing of the film with commentary overlapping the film. I have always found such features interesting to hear from the writers and director through each step of the movie.
· “The Power of the Present” Documentary:
o “Rangers Then to Now”
-- Includes interviews with the cast, producers, directors, creator, etc. providing their take on the original series. Many individuals give their inspirations for their character portrayal as well as their hopes in making the film. The most interesting part for me was hearing from Saban himself! It was also great hearing from each cast member about their thoughts toward the character they portrayed as well as how Power Rangers encompasses all genders, races, individuals, etc.
o “Building the Team”
--Focuses on the importance of team work, and how Power Rangers began in a time when that was so important. Creating the team on screen was important in establishing this theme, and worked due to the chemistry of the individuals they cast. This part was also great from the short interviews from Jason David Frank (original Green and White Ranger) and Amy Jo Johnson (original Pink Ranger). This section also provides viewers with a chance to learn about each of the actors, which was extremely interesting to not only see how diverse they are, but to realize how many different countries they represent.
o “Beyond the Rangers”
--The focus is more on Rita. Elizabeth Banks gives her take on the character as well as proving she did her homework by sharing the differences between the actresses who played the original character (I didn't know there was more than one!) She also shares how difficult it was for her to grasp the role until she finally donned the outfit, which the make-up process is also shared. I love when features show the amount of time, effort, etc. it truly takes for each character go through the make-up process. A large focus on this section also deals with interview from Bryan Cranston, which are extremely interesting.
o “Suiting Up”
-- This may be my favorite section as the focus is on the design of the suits. All the intricate details, designs, art work, make-up, etc. are covered here, and is extremely interesting to see from the developmental stages, what is natural, what is CGI, and how long it took to suit each individual. The actual creation of each suit is quite amazing. Taking the basic artwork and bringing them to life in a functional way is truly a work of art. Viewers get a chance to see interviews from that actors, and their stunt doubles, where they talk about life inside the suit.
o “Rangers, Welcome to Training”
-- A breakdown of the training each cast member went through. This section was interesting to see how each actor's training differed based on their character / characteristics. Another interesting point was the amount of character research the stunt doubles took in order to learn the individual they were portraying so that the fluidity of the action would work, rather than seeing a drastic difference between the actors and stunt doubles.
o “Rangers in the Wild”
-- Vancouver was the primary filming location due to its diverse topography giving it a California feel. The setting was a main focus for this feature. How they were able to capture the small-town feeling, with a beautiful landscape is explored. Outside of the physical setting, the other set pieces were also displayed. The creation of Zordon's spaceship, and the reaction of the cast, are discussed through interviews. The time, and detail, used in creating the final product is truly astounding.
o “It’s Morphin Time”
-- Visual and special effects were obviously going to be a large part of this movie. They wanted to rely as little as possible on CGI in order to give the movie a realistic as possible feel. In order to accomplish this, numerous large-scale sets were created. As for the Zords, they had to create half of the Zord itself, and then added CGI parts in order to fit it into the sets they had made. This section is extremely interesting to see not only how the sets were designed, but how they integrated set pieces and CGI in order to create a fluid end product. The breakdown of concept art, creation of the pieces, and the addition of CGI is truly remarkable to see. An interesting side-note is the discussion they have dealing with the difficulty of designing the Zords in order to keep their distance from the Transformers franchise. A large focus of this section also deals with the creation of Bryan Cranston's Zordon, and Bill Hader's Alpha 5.
o “Power Ballad: Music and Sound”
--Test audiences are usually used to help the director gauge understanding of the film. They then take the actors into a studio in order to do voice-over looping, which is where they can add lines, clarify, etc. based on some of the feedback they receive. The "Power Ballad" section interviews the cast and discusses such moments, but also displays the cohesion of the relationship between the director and the actors by working together to make each line as perfect as possible.
Brian Tyler is the composer of the film, and this section also provides interviews concerning the score, and where he felt the best placement for certain musical ques were. Tyler focused on weaving together an orchestra tone with a contemporary vibe, which was used to reflect the old, and new Power Rangers.
o “This is Your Destiny”
-- Red carpet interviews from the cast and crew at the premier of the film. They reflect on the true cohesiveness of the group as well as how they hope that everyone watching the film can relate to the characters in some way.
· Deleted/Alternate/Extended Scenes
-- There are 18 alternate scenes. While they are interesting to see, most do not add to the overall plot, and I can see why they wouldn't have made it past the editing table. There is a funny scene with Billy and Jason involving the van, which is worth watching. There is also the deleted scene with Jason David Frank and Amy Jo Johnson, which most have probably seen on the internet by now. Lastly, there is a scene with Jason and Kimberly making out, which if it was included, could create some drama in a possible sequel if it does indeed involve Tommy Oliver!
-- It's always fun to see the cast and crew having a good time on set. I also enjoy seeing when they mess up their lines! It makes them seem a bit more human. This is a fun section sure to make fans smile and laugh, especially with the number of times RJ Cyler farted on set!
· Theatrical Trailer with Audio Commentary by Director Dean Israelite
-- A breakdown of the trailer with the director. It's interesting to hear Israelite's view of the trailer, as well as why specific shots were chosen.
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES
· Audio Commentary with Director Dean Israelite and Writer John Gatins
· Deleted/Alternate/Extended Scenes
If you are a long-time fan of the Power Rangers, then I would highly recommend picking up one of the combo packs with the extended features. Saban’s Power Rangers will be available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD for the suggested retail price of $42.99, $39.99, and $29.95, respectively on June 27 (Lionsgate).