Director: Dean Isrelite Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G, Elizabeth Banks, and Bryan Cranston Synopsis: A group of high-school kids, who are infused with unique superpowers, harness their abilities in order to save the world (Source: IMDb). Rating: PG-13
Growing up, I always thought that the Power Rangers was awful, even as a child. Though I couldn’t express it quite so eloquently at the time, I knew what I was watching was the sort of lowbrow dope aimed specifically at my demographic. Of course that didn’t stop me from eating it up. As I got older, though, the franchise dropped out of my favor but continued to thrive in the underbelly of nerd culture (you can’t go to any sort of comic convention without spotting some incarnation of the iconic spandex).
Here we are, almost two decades later, staring down the barrel of a possible cinematic revival (Power Rangers being the latest attempt from Hollywood to capitalize on the current nostalgia culture). Yet despite my having lost interest years ago, somehow, someway I found myself at a Thursday night pre-screening, sitting amongst a sweaty score of Ranger strangers. Then the lights dimmed and the darndest thing happened: I had fun.
From the prologue, Director Dean Isrelite (Project Almanac) establishes a ludicrous sense of playfulness akin to the 1993 original, which is exactly what you’d expect from a film that opens in the Cretaceous era where, in a final act of desperation, the battle-worn Zordon (Bryan Cranston) summons a meteor to obliterate his foe Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) once and for all. Unfortunately, the dinosaurs took the berth of the punishment.
The silliness spills into the next scene where we meet the future Red Ranger, Jason (Dacre Montgomery), a kind-hearted jock with a disposition for the type of delinquency that lands teenagers in Saturday school. Here Jason meets two more future Rangers, Kimberly (Naomi Scott) and Billy (RJ Cyler). Though these kids share an archetypal angst, solid character writing and strong performances make them easy to root for.
This was also the case for the last two Rangers, who our trio meet at a quarry just outside of town. It’s here where their combined delinquency (and a lot of luck) sets them down a path to morhpin’ time, beginning with the discovery of the Power Coins Zordon stashed away over 65-million years ago.
At the same time, fishermen unknowingly scoop up the crusty remains of Rita Repulsa, who then wakes up (I guess she was finished with her nap?) and begins her quest to resurrect Goldar and unearth the Zeo Crystal (if you feel lost right now, then this movie probably isn’t for you). Elizabeth Banks finely captures the raw insanity of Rita, though occasionally her scenes feel as if they’ve been ripped straight from of another movie.
Everything else plays out like you’d expect from a superhero origin story. We get a training montage where our heroes learn to fight; a slower bonding scene around a campfire; as well as the inevitable “first beatdown” from the baddie, after which the team doubts themselves for a bit before regrouping and rebounding stronger than ever. If you’ve been waiting for a Zords reference this whole review, here it is (also, you’re probably a huge nerd, nerd).
The last act is where Isrelite lets ‘Rangers’ bask in all its campy glory. High-flying acrobats in silly costumes punch rock monsters in the face (even underwater at one point) before jumping into giant, mechanical dinosaurs to take down a huge monster made of liquid gold. There’s even a brief moment where the original theme music plays over top a shot of the Zords running together!
It’s just as silly as it sounds, yes, and if you’re not willing to suspend your disbelief (and I mean really suspend it) then you’re not going to have any fun with Power Rangers. But if you’re fine with sitting back and cutting your brain some slack for a couple hours, then you may be one of the chosen ones.
Power Rangers jump into action this weekend at a theater near you.
Have you seen Power Rangers yet? Do you plan to? Did you grow up watching the show? Leave us a comment and let us know!