Power Rangers is heavy on the nostalgia, but does it do the old show justice? Read our movie review to find out!It’s the strangest feeling to view something you grew up watching after school on television replicated on the big screen for a new generation. I recall being so into the Power Rangers that did battle with monsters that I’d draw pictures of the golden-winged ape Goldar clashing swords with the heroic Megazord robot. I thought to myself while watching the new Goldar and new Megazord battle on screen if today’s kids would be able to draw these figures. Even at the age of nine, I could easily draw the simple shapes and colors of the monsters and robots, but I think it’d be a lot tougher when the Megazord appears as a mess of metal and Goldar looks like a glob of living mustard. Why must we shirk iconic designs for cluttered and complicated splattering of computer graphics?
These odd redesigns all come with the package of trying to turn Power Rangers into a more serious young adult hero picture. Or at least as serious as it can be for a picture that seems to have taken a big cue from the Michael Bay school of toy franchise filmmaking. The opening scene of the previous heroes being grittily killed in combat is quickly followed up with a scene where a student has accidentally masturbated a bull. When I saw this scene, I strapped in and set my expectations low. Thankfully, this bull joke does not come full-circle and the most disgusting gag that follows is one of the teens referring to the act of Morphing as something you do in the shower.
If we must live in a world where a Power Rangers movie is to be given a serious treatment, director David Israelite does make a decent call of trying to focus more on the dynamic between the five teens chosen to defend Earth. We get to know most of these characters as the outsiders of high school, the majority of them introduced in a detention scene straight out of The Breakfast Club. Jason (Dacre Montgomery) is the jock that went one prank too far that resulted in him being kicked off the football team. He soon befriends the autistic nerd Billy (RJ Cyler) and begins to fall for the popular-turned-outcast Kimberly (Naomi Scott).
The remaining characters of the bad-boy Zack (Ludi Lin) and anti-social Trini (Becky G) are given rather abrupt introductions, as they don’t show up until the other three venture to the town’s local mines. What’re they doing at the mines? Advancing the plot so they can get to the Power Rangers action. The five of them proceed quickly through most of the exposition in the most cliché and clunky of writing and editing. But considering how much of a long and daunting road they have to travel before we actually get to the star attraction, the audience must accept that the five of them are casual enough to proceed with the extraordinary superhero plot.
The story is nothing new or unexpected for a superhero origins tale. The evil Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) has awakened from her slumber and seeks to destroy Earth. After seemingly millions of years being stuck underwater, she looks very much like a modern movie witch. Her plan is to find a McGuffin crystal that can destroy the planet and needs her giant golden monster Goldar to retrieve it. One would need an awful lot of gold to assemble such a creature, but Rita seems to find just enough from tooth fillings and jewelry stores. I feel more robbed than the jewelry store that there wasn’t a more impressive scene where she storms Fort Knox.
The all-powerful crystal McGuffin happens to be located inside a Krispy Kreme. Of course, the characters will clearly say Krispy Kreme whenever they refer to the crystal located inside a Krispy Kreme. The action-packed climax must temporarily cease so that Rita can enter a Krispy Kreme and eat a Krispy Kreme donut. I thought this was supposed to be a feature-length toy commercial, not a donut commercial.
While I’d like to praise the film for spending the majority of its time with the Power Rangers out of their suits and bonding together, it’s handled rather poorly with an onslaught of lame humor and inconsistent valleys in their relationships. Throughout the picture is a constant repetition of basic team origin morals; they need to work together, they need to open up, they need to be honest, etc. True, the movie does adhere closely to this formula from the TV show, but it just goes to show how inconsistent this picture truly is with its tone. For every moment when a character makes a somber confession of their frustrating times at school and at home, there’s another where they stammer for a funny line, desperate to insert comedy into nearly every scene. I don’t know, I somehow thought there should be more knowing humor for a picture with a villain called Rita Repulsa.