The film is more about a bunch of oddball teens than it is about colorfully suited superheroes. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.
Back in the ’90s, you probably knew them as “Mighty Morphin,” and these days they take the prefix “Saban’s,” but we all know them best as simply the “Power Rangers.” Executive producer Haim Saban discovered the “Super Sentai” series on Japanese television in the ’80s, and brought the concept of teens in colorful costumes fighting monsters to American audiences in the form of the somewhat silly, but much beloved, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” series. Now, of course, we have the big- screen reboot, for better or for worse.
Joseph Kahn’s “Power/Rangers” short film that popped up online in 2015 showed just what a truly dark Power Rangers project could look like, but this version of the “Power Rangers” is about as dark as a CW series: just enough to be taken (somewhat) seriously, but with enough of a sense of humor about itself to have some fun, too.
The film is more about a bunch of oddball teens than it is about colorfully suited karate-chopping superheroes. The first half is “The Breakfast Club” with way more extreme daredevil behavior, as this posse of misfits discovers each other and stumbles into their startling new powers, by way of five colorful coins they happen to blast out of a mountainside.
Movie Review ★★½
‘Power Rangers,’ with Elizabeth Banks, Bill Hader, Bryan Cranston, R.J. Cyler, Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, Becky G., Ludi Lin. Directed by Dean Israelite, from a screenplay by John Gatins. 124 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, language, and for some crude humor. Several theaters.
The explosives enthusiast is Billy (R.J. Cyler, who steals the whole movie), a neuro-diverse nerd who befriends disgraced football captain Jason (Dacre Montgomery) in detention. Also on the mountain that day are rebellious former cheerleader Kimberly (Naomi Scott), heavy-metal yogi Trini (Becky G.) and adrenaline-addled delinquent Zack (Ludi Lin). Soon they’re being groomed by a 65-million-year-old alien, Zordon (Bryan Cranston, no really), and a sassy robot, Alpha (Bill Hader), to take on Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks), who plans to use Goldar the gold monster to steal Earth’s life crystal.
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The actual power ranger-ing in the movie is blessedly short, focusing more on character and team building. It’s a good thing, because director Dean Israelite and cinematographer Matthew Lloyd have a chaotic approach to shooting action. We are denied a good morphin’ sequence though, which was the best, most memorable part of the series.
“Power Rangers” maintains the essence of its origins in that it’s rather pleasantly bonkers. It errs on the side of goofy rather than gritty, and that’s to its favor.