What do you expect from a movie called “Power Rangers”? Multi-coloured, helmeted heroes, that’s what. Instead we’re treated to an hour-and-a-half of troubled teens before it finally becomes morphin time.
The new brood of Power Rangers are the most diverse group yet. After meeting at a Saturday afternoon detention filled with “Misfits, weirdos and criminals”—sort of like “The Breakfast Club” for aspiring superheroes—former football star Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Billy (RJ Cyler), Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G.)—are turned into mystical earth-saving warriors after discovering ancient glowing coins at a mining site.
Trained by wise cracking robot Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) and ancient great big head Zordon (Bryan Cranston), the Rangers learn to battle armies of stone golems called Putties and perform some tricky martial arts, but will they be able to come together as a group and learn the most important Power Ranger trick, the mighty morph from teens to besuited heroes? If not the five Morph-a-teers and the world will fall prey to 65-million-year-old former Green Ranger Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) and her giant golden monster sidekick’s plan to spread fear and destruction.
There will be a certain portion of the audience made misty by mentions of the Zeo Crystal, Goldar and Megazord but those not so inclined may find the origin story rough going. “Go Go Away Power Rangers!” From an alien life form called Rita to the “milking” of a bull (don’t ask) “Power Rangers” is a strange mix of grounded character work with out and out bonkers story elements. Banks has fun chewing the scenery as Repulsa but the movie never fully embraces its cheeseball roots, so we’re left with a movie that is simultaneously sincere and silly.
When the main cast aren’t training in Zordon’s underground lair they have regular teen problems. In fact “Power Rangers” may be the first superhero movie to feature LGBTQ and autistic heroes. That’s good stuff but good intentions don’t make for good movies.
Painful dialogue—“The door is open,” says Billy. “That’s because it’s open, Billy,” replies Jason.—and a habit of repeating everything just to make sure we get it—i.e.: We see Kimberly cut her hair before a disembodied voice says, “Kimberly did you cut your hair?”—makes this a bit of a slog.
Add to that Krispy Kreme product placement that’s more annoying than the sugar rush that follows chowing down four Glazed Kreme Filled donuts at lunch and an orgy of cut rate special effects and you’re left with a movie that will leave you pining for the relative pleasures of the original 90s television show.
It takes an hour-and-a-half to get to the Power Rangers’ signature look, the red, pink, blue, yellow and black costumes and get to the good stuff—fights with people in rubber suits. The final thirty minutes delivers most of what you expect from “Power Rangers.” It’s a few minutes of good, retro fun that should provide an adrenalin blast of nostalgia but doesn’t make up for the ninety minutes of drudgery that preceded it.