Movie Reviews: ‘Power Rangers’
Director: Dean Israelite
Cast: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks, Bill Hader
Plot: Five disaffected and outcast teenagers find a set of five crystals that open the way to a long buried UFO. Here they are recruited by robot Alpha 5 and the spirit of deceased alien warrior Zordon to become the Power Rangers, elite fighters who must protect the universe from global level threats.
Review: To say that Mighty Morphing Power Rangers was a world wide phenomenon would be to say something very obvious. The show spawned a MASSIVE franchise of merchandising, spin-offs and movies. What’s unusual is that it look this long to get a gritty reboot under way. Now they have, and they’ve clearly had a lot of fun making it. What’s left to decide is how much that fun transfers over the audience.
Having never seen the original (it arrived on screen when I was a teenager and I saw it as a Voltron knock-off) all of these characters are new to me. The cast is definitely a diverse bunch. We have a range of cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations and neurodevelopmental functions (simply, autism) in the mix. What makes it refreshing is that the characters are not defined by these singular traits but instead are informed by them. Surprisingly the characters are one of the best selling points for this movie…they’re not the greatest character studies in the world but they’re realistic and good role models for a younger audience. One of the characters is dealing with the repercussions of distributing another person’s nude selfie around the school and how they feel about themselves for having done it. That’s a surprisingly blunt and believable issue for a Power Rangers movie.
Each of the five young performers are charismatic and talented enough to make their roles believable and carry the film. This could well be a launching pad for a some of them. Also rounding out the cast are Bryan Cranston as a large talking wall, Bill Hader providing comic relief as a whacky robot and Elizabeth Banks as villainous Rita Repulsa. The latter is a former Power Ranger turned bad and she makes for a damn entertaining foe. We’re glad we didn’t take the youngest kids though…the scenes of her all manky faced and ripping out people’s teeth were gnarly to say the least.
Finally we get to the action…and by ‘finally’ we mean it’s not until the third act that we actually get any real action scenes. Yes, the character development is very good and interesting but apart from a training montage this movie is severely lacking in action. When they finally do get on the iconic suits we’re 20 minutes away from the end of the film and we only get two minutes of martial arts action before the robo-dinosaurs turn up. The kung-fu looked awesome in the trailer, it was disappointing that it was so brief. From that point on it’s giant robots vs dirt monsters and it’s great fun. Good effects, bombastic battles and some campy nods to the original.
It feels really weird that there wasn’t more action peppered throughout the film, because and early encounter with Rita’s minions where they show off some cool moves. The trailer suggests that quite a number of sequences have been left on the cutting room floor, including Zac jumping over a building – something mentioned but not seen in the final product. I was also looking forward to finding out what the ninja on the train roof was about and IT WASN’T IN THE FILM! Who are you, sassy train ninja?!
With the short running time and heavy emphasis on character development this may have worked better as a high budget television show. Then the character work could be spread over a couple of episodes with an action sequence rounding out each episode. As it stands it’s a fun time out. If you carry the nostalgia torch for the original you should go, go see it purely for the spectacle.
Rating: SIX out of TEN