This article contains mild spoilers for the film.
I think the world collectively cringed when Lionsgate announced the “Power Rangers” movie they were making for the big screen. I certainly let out a groan, bracing to watch Hollywood franchising ruin another cherished gem from my childhood.
Yet, thanks to the movie’s impressive promotional work and my inner ten-year-old*, I was in the theater on the film’s opening night – grateful the rest of the audience was actually ten years old and I could see the screen unimpeded, for a change.
I was not disappointed on any account.
The movie opens immediately with the backstory of Zordon and the fall of his original team of Power Rangers, cleverly eliminating the need for exposition later on and effectively setting the tone for the rest of the film.
This is an action movie. Though it’s one perhaps directed at younger audiences – one where the team of protagonists still dresses exclusively in their individual Ranger colors – it contains all the necessary explosions, shattering glass and car chases.
And, of course, no action hero origin story would be complete without a training montage, but a montage that ends with failure instead of the protagonist completing his assignment with a smug smile, is even better.
The movie was full of similarly tweaked clichés, not so much to keep the audience on the edge of their seat, but to remind them that, despite all the fantasy, this is the real world and things are at stake.
But, the real beauty of the new “Power Rangers” lies in one simple change; in this version, the power coins make the new team of Rangers metahuman. They protect the team from harm and give each member supernatural strength, speed and agility.
Because of this, the Power Rangers are no longer random teenagers trying to save the world (who also happen to own a dojo? The specifics there are fuzzy.) They are no longer throwing their lives away and they are no longer something to be ridiculed.
Instead, they fit perfectly into the popular superhero mold, falling in step with others like Cyborg and Spiderman, becoming heroes with a responsibility to act, instead of teenagers simply acting out. The film treats them with respect, despite their age, and demands that the world view them the same way.
There is no way to demystify the teenage experience. Countless efforts have left us with a handful of platitudes, that are cringe-worthy because they are at once hideously trite and incredibly true.
I expected nothing more than those clichés from “Power Rangers,” but beyond them, I found diversity and humor and the desperate, immediate friendships we only seem to make in our teenage years. I found heroes that I can trust to inspire the next generation, with or without a Megazord.
*(Yes, I watched “Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie” in preparation for “Power Rangers” and, yes, I loved every second.)