Power Rangers’ Attempt of A Serious Tone Is Noble But Feeble
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Like any kid, I grew up watching one or two episodes of Power Rangers before my parents banned me from watching anymore, of course that didn’t stop me. While not a die-hard fan, I’ve seen enough episodes from various if-not-all incarnations of the Power Rangers to be familiar with the set-up from Mighty Morphin, Lightspeed Rescue, S.P.D. and Dino Thunder (the series I was most familiar with). Five individuals (usually teenagers) are chosen by a mystic force to protect the world from powerful evildoers. They are equipped with their own costume/armor each with its own color (Red signifying the leader) and pilot their own Zords, which are basically giant animal robots. It was campy and over-the-top but harmless and a lot of fun.
Saban’s Power Rangers from director Dean Israelite (Project Almanac) follows the formula in this reboot of the Mighty Morphin saga. Five teenage delinquents Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Billy (RJ Cyler), Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Trini (Becky G.), and Zack (Ludi Lin) come across an ancient spaceship run by Zordon (Bryan Cranston) an alien and former Power Ranger whose conscious is projected through what I can only describe as a holographic wall made out of rubric cubes and assisted by a funny robot named Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader). Chosen to be the new rangers the team don’t exactly meet eye-to-eye preventing them from morphing into their Ranger armor, but time is of the essence as the evil Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) emerges from the earth with her monster army and plotting to take over the world.
Basically, a twenty-two minute TV episode with a longer runtime and bigger budget; this isn’t the first time that the Power Rangers have appeared on the big screen with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers the Movie (1995) and Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997, retaining its campy feel and remembered mostly by its fan base. With this movie it trades in that campy element for a dark and serious tone resulting in a clunky and unfocused picture. The lead actors are great in their roles but I got more of a kick from Cranston, Hader even Banks who despite being both a terrifying and over-the-top villain somehow makes her role stand out. Scenes with the Rangers discovering the spaceship and training for the big battle pump up the adrenaline but once the Morphin element kicks in the third act it’s hard to take something like Power Rangers seriously with its somber tone even with its epic fight from buildings being destroyed and a giant robot (who bears a striking resemblance to Optimus Prime) clashing with another giant monster makes Pacific Rim a more mature picture with its similar giant robot and alien fight story. It doesn’t help when the iconic theme song plays as the zords are unleashed which just seemed out of place, imagine if the Adam West Batman theme played during the climax of The Dark Knight. Among other issues include is that the team dynamic wasn’t well-executed within the rangers who are mostly bickering with each other and come to an agreement only when it’s convenient to the plot and with the exception of Billy (the Blue Ranger), the other rangers had generic personalities.
If it’s any consolation, it does a better job handling its source material than the likes of Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Jem and the Holograms, though there were moments that it started to feel like a Michael Bay production (minus the explosions) with a few off-color jokes one involving a cow udder which thankfully doesn’t plague the entire runtime and incorporating product placement by making Krispy Kreme Doughnuts pivotal to its story. Fans will probably have a better time than I did, nothing wrong with that but if you’re not familiar or give a hoot of the Power Rangers franchise then go go give this movie a skip.