Five teenagers with attitude discover five alien artifacts that have been lost on Earth for millennia. Together, with these power coins and their potential unlocked, they become the Power Rangers, defending the Earth against all levels of threat!
Well, okay, it wasn’t that straightforward. Three of the five teenagers meet at weekend detention like in The Breakfast Club, Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly (Naomi Scott) and Billy (RJ Cyler) attend Angel Grove High together. Jason was a star athlete who rolled his car and injured his knee during a police chase after a prank gone wrong. Kimberly leaked photos of a rival in a compromising position to the entire school. Billy is autistic and the target of bullies…I don’t remember why he was in detention, but he was. In detention Jason protects Billy from a bully, making them friends. Billy overrides Jason’s house arrest ankle bracelet and the two are off on an adventure where they find Kimberly and meet Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G) in a local quarry, a quarry where Billy and his dad used to hunt for scrap metals and treasures before he died. Blasting apart a quarry wall, they find five glowing coins: red, pink, blue, black and yellow. These coins give the youths strength they couldn’t imagine, but they are not Power Rangers yet. Meeting Alpha Five (Bill Hader) who takes them to Zordon (Bryan Cranston) they train and eventually bond, forming a team who can finally morph into the Power Rangers, set to defend the Earth from Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks).
You know what, I actually really enjoyed this. Sure it was 90% cheese, but it was nostalgia, and it was fun. Yes, it was an origin story so getting to the action was a little slow, but the story developed the characters fairly well, and had a lot of heart behind it. I liked how they managed to make a fairly intelligent story out of what was effectively an after-school show for kids. Zordon was a former Red Ranger, Rita was part of his team as the Green Ranger. Her monster Goldar was created when she managed to steal enough gold to make him. Sure there were some plot holes and head scratching moments (the Pink Ranger was in detention for spreading revenge porn? SPOILER: Rita drowns the Blue Ranger and instead of anyone giving him mouth to mouth or CPR they take him miles away to Zordon’s hidden Power Ranger base?), but I enjoyed it.
I liked the effects, and I liked the costumes. Whenever there is a movie of this type, you have to get the costumes right, and the new “armoured” look was a lot more practical for fighting space aliens than spandex ever was. All the actors really did a great job, from the seasoned veterans like Cranston (who voiced several monsters on the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV 1993-1995) and Banks to the newcomers. They each really seemed to have fun in the roles, and they all fit their updated characters. The characters also seemed quite realistic. Black Ranger Zack seems moody and aloof, but is really concerned about his mother’s ailing health. Yellow Ranger Trini has problems with her parents (it’s hinted that she’s either bi-sexual or a lesbian). Red Ranger Jason and Pink Ranger Kimberly both are dealing with the consequences of their past decisions, and Blue Ranger Billy is still dealing with the loss of his father, but really is the heart of the group, and the most enthusiastic about becoming a “super hero”.
I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel, but apparently that is in doubt. I’ve heard that the film did not perform as well as the studio had hoped, and that the director thinks the PG-13 rating may have had some affect on it. The reasoning is that with the slightly higher rating, families may not have been as likely to watch the film. From what I could tell, the primary reason the film got the PG-13 instead of a PG rating was swearing. A few times the language was a little more “colourful” than you would expect for a property mainly directed at children. I think that something the director could have controlled and taken out of if the potential rating worried him. They could have even fixed it in post production. Power Rangers was a solidly entertaining popcorn flick, plain and simple. You would be disappointed if you were looking to take more than that from it.
Bottom Line: Nice that it wasn’t just a simple rehash of the television series. I liked the cameos (Jason David Frank and Amy Jo Johnson) but would have liked more. Where were Bulk and Skull? Even if they didn’t have the actual actors (Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy) from the original series, it would have been a nice nod to have the characters show up.