By John Liu
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Two days before Power Rangers’ opening day, the movie ticketing website Atomtickets.com had been giving out thousands of free tickets to see the new Power Rangers movie. In my experience, this was the longest amount of time a free movie ticket promo code had been active. This was not a good sign for the movie, but I was able to snag enough tickets for a group of my Power Rangers loving friends to go.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers started in 1993, but I can’t recall ever watching an entire season. The Disney Afternoon just had more appeal to me than cheesy live action series based off Japanese Super Sentai series. I was quite surprised to discover that the Power Rangers series has been quietly going on for 23 seasons. Yes, I’m serious. 23! The Power Rangers Wiki lists over 800 episodes. Fast forward to today and Power Rangers is on their 3rd movie.
The 2nd movie, Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, was released 20 years ago.
Power Rangers explores the lives of five teens in a small town called Angel Grove. The high school teens haphazardly find five Power Coins in a gold mine and are destined to become the next Power Rangers. They meet Zordon and Alpha 5, who explain that Rita Repulsa has awakened and trying to find the Zeo Crystal to destroy the world. Without spoiling too much of the movie, Power Rangers fans have a lot to look forward to with Goldar, Zords, Megazord, and cameos from the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The audience has to wait quite awhile before the Power Rangers finally get their armor and start kicking butt.
Although the movie felt like a generic action movie, I applaud its diverse cast. This is the first blockbuster film to feature LGBTQ, autistic, and Asian superheroes. With the Hollywood whitewashing controversy in major films like Doctor Strange, Great Wall, and Ghost in the Shell, it’s refreshing to see a movie bucking that trend. The Black Ranger, played by Ludi Lin, struggles to find balance in his life with school and taking care of his sick mom.
Surprisingly, his conversations with his mom are in Chinese. I found out Lin talked to the director about this and how it was important to add his Chinese heritage to the Black Ranger’s story.
Naomi Scott, who is half Indian, plays Pink Ranger a.k.a Kimberly Hart. The Pink Ranger, in the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series, was perceived as a more stereotypical feminine Power Ranger.
I’m glad this wasn’t the case in this movie. The audience quickly learns that she was kicked off a cheerleading squad for something she did. A romantic moment involving the Pink Ranger and Red Ranger from the trailer was cut from the final movie to keep the strong feminist persona. Other than the Black Ranger disappearing from much of the final battle, each Power Ranger got good screen time.
SPOILER ALERT. There is a major product placement in this movie. In case you haven’t heard, it’s Krispy Kreme. This movie is not subtle about it at all. A Krispy Kreme shop just so happens to be located above where the Zeo Crystal is hidden. If that wasn’t enough, Rita Repulsa takes a break from battling the Power Rangers to take a bite out of a doughnut before continuing in her quest to destroy humanity. After the movie, a group of my friends had a craving for Krispy Kreme, so they went. Krispy Kreme was ready with their special Power Ranger doughnuts and specially designed box with the Power Rangers logo perfectly visible. I got to see firsthand the power of product placement.
I will admit the movie had its moments, and I chuckled at a few of the cheesy lines of dialogue. However, the slow pacing for a non-Power Rangers fan was too much to bear. I was hoping for a tribute to the original Yellow Power Ranger, played by Thuy Trang, who passed away from a car accident in 2001. Trang was one of the first female Asian role models for kids growing up in the 1990s. Power Rangers was a surprising hit at the box office and currently raked in $61 million worldwide.
Power Rangers is currently playing at a local theater near you.
John can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.