Originally published on CommonSpace.
Who is this 2017 interpretation of Power Rangers for? With a 12A rating, grittier action than its TV counterpart, and a surprising amount of swearing, it’s hardly kid-friendly. The grown-ups have been bombarded by so many updates and reboots (Ghostbusters, 21 Jump Street, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) that saturating the market further seems like folly.
Thankfully, it’s no Transformers. The action, when it finally comes, is coherent and tactful, more like a tug of war than an all-out mêlée. Each of the Rangers are flawed, but in that youthful adolescent way, and not in the vein of Michael Bay’s deeply unlikable characters.
And this is a character-driven film. It’s a superhero Breakfast Club, as the teens attend detention, begrudgingly tolerate each other, and end up having to save the town and therefore humanity itself.
The fight (singular) doesn’t come until the last twenty minutes. The journey there involves alien mythology, a joke about masturbating a bull, a starring role from Krispy Kreme, and some proper backstories. Russia has rated this modern Power Rangers tale an 18 due to the suggestion Trini, the Yellow Ranger, is queer. Billy, the Blue Ranger, is openly autistic.
Growing up, people wanted to be the Power Rangers. Kids want to punch baddies in the face, but with more epic adventures than ever thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, today’s youth are more engaged than before. This representation is sticking it to the baddies who say being queer and having mental health issues is something to be ashamed of.
So this Power Rangers is for the 90s kids – the ones with the toys, who still wake up with the theme tune in their head, and who dreamt of being a part of the gang. But it’s for the 21st century kids too, who are antagonised for who they are. Oh sure, it’s silly, nonsensical, and arguably unwarranted – but it’s proud of what it is, and it’s a damn good time.