“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” was a big deal for kids of the ‘90s. As an adult, there’s no denying that the series was campy and a bit silly, but despite all of the crazy villains and strange threats that loomed over the Power Rangers’ lives, there was always a sense of optimism, lightness, and that good would always triumph over evil. The reboot, simply title “Power Rangers,” strips the characters of their light, makes them far too angst-ridden, and takes them on a journey where the payoff doesn’t feel earned. Directed by Dean Israelite, with a screenplay by John Gatins, “Power Rangers” is largely underwhelming, its narrative veers off course, and even with a decent cast, is tragically dull.
Five outcast teens–Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Billy (RJ Cyler), Zack (Ludi Lin), and Trini (Becky G.)–know each other only vaguely through days spent in detention, but friends they are not. That is, until a nightly rendezvous into an old mining area leads them to the discovery of five crystals. The crystals give them superhuman powers like insurmountable strength and they’re thrown into a ship that crash-landed 65 million years ago. This is where they meet a computer robot named Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) and Zordon (Bryan Cranston), a former Power Ranger who, after attempting to protect the life-changing and powerful zeo crystals from Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks), has merged with the ship’s matrix. The teens spend the majority of their time training and attempting to morph into the Power Rangers they’re meant to become, while Rita spends her time collecting gold in order to bring back a creature named Goldar back to life and take back what she thinks is rightfully hers.
In the original show, as the Rangers geared up in their megazord to take on the weekly villain, there was always a great theme playing in the background. It heightened the action sequence and it’s when you knew the Power Rangers meant business. In that one moment, there was a sense of joy, of happiness that the Power Rangers would save the day, corny moments and all. “Power Rangers” the movie lacks this sense of joy, opting for more of a gritty and serious tone. The film might have been better if it had focused less on a flimsy team journey and more on establishing that the five teens were already friends. It takes an hour and a half before the characters are seen in their suits (and the design isn’t that great) and the battle with Rita Repulsa lacks any enthusiasm and imagination. The film begs and pleads with us to root for these teenagers, who suddenly have superhero-like abilities, but never give us reason to do so. This empty investment renders all of the film’s bigger moments weightless.
Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa is your run-of-the-mill villain who seems more intent on snarling at everyone than being menacing or even fun. Bryan Cranston as Zordon doesn’t offer quite the mentoring that the Rangers are seeking and he spends half the film trying to make them morph for his own benefit and putting them down at every opportunity. The Power Rangers themselves feel less like a unit and more like “The Breakfast Club” teens with all the angst, but minus any heart. The film had a lot of time to establish all of the characters and their relationships, but even with an hour and a half to do so, nothing really comes of it. The film feels far too generic and it becomes far too tedious to watch as it continues going through the same motions. It starts off with a lot of potential, but “Power Rangers” is too concerned with establishing all of the uninteresting parts of an uneven story and never feels at all like a true Power Rangers film.
The film feels far too generic and it becomes far too tedious to watch as it continues going through the same motions. It starts off with a lot of potential, but "Power Rangers" is too concerned with establishing all of the uninteresting parts of an uneven story and never feels at all like a true Power Rangers film.