Summary: A group of high school students are given powers to save the world.
Well, this was nice. This was a really, really pleasant surprise. I originally wrote off Power Rangers as a Transformers-wannabe cash grab, appealing to the older audiences with nostalgia and blinding the younger ones with lots of CGI.
Don’t get me wrong, it still has plenty of that- everyone has their original TV series names, the theme song does make an appearance at a random interval, and the CGI and costumes are cheesy as hell, as expected. However- that first hour of Power Rangers is strong enough that I was pretty happy sitting through the rest of it. I sincerely mean that.
This movie is weird. It has off-kilter humor, Bryan Cranston in Drax make-up, bad CGI, a soundtrack that sounds like Stranger Things, that kid from Stranger Things, an alien pleading with five kids to commit murder, mechanical dinosaurs… it takes it all in stride. As it should! From the opening scene, which involves a somewhat out of place one-shot car chase (really well done), we know this is going to be a weird movie. And it works.
There’s some really good character development and interaction. We do get some of the teenage angst and there’s one out of the five stories that kind of pales in comparison to the other stuff (“My mom has cancer!” “… My friends don’t like me because I’m a bad person!”) but that’s fine. It’s all relatable and believable as real life teen things. While it doesn’t dwell on these things, it’s just nice to see that kids get heard- if not by parents, then by each other- and find outlets for themselves. The dialogue is also well delivered and to be honest, it’s probably some of the better bits written for a “young adult” audience. The humor is pretty clever and all the actors have natural charisma in delivering it. The best Ranger, by far, is Billy as played by RJ Cyler. There’s a real youthfulness to his performance that he manages to play straight even though he knows he gets the best lines.
The way the kids get their powers and learn how to control them is pretty fast enough and gives us enough progress without feeling too rushed. If you’ve seen Spider-man (the first Tobey Maguire one), imagine it’s five Spider-men (or is it Spider-mans?) learning all their tricks and powers. Like they all learn to web together. It even comes with a montage.
With the tone they were going for, I wish Elizabeth Banks as the villain Rita Repulsa had upped the camp a little bit more. She plays it pretty seriously and I think a couple more line delivered in the vein of Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy would have really suited what they were going for. Like she almost gets there (the bit where she eats the gold is phenomenal), but they pull back. Ah well. She gets a sweet make-up job, though. I will say the third act gets a little too long for me- when the fights actually happen and they use the Zords. Not only is everything CGI (the Putty-men are just giant CG rocks), but (of course) everything is pretty choppy and sloppily edited. The action is really hard to follow. And the CG is just… not… good. It’s more Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and less Pacific Rim. And as we know from the latter, bigger and louder doesn’t always mean good.
I will say that all of this is easily overlooked if you allow the movie to exceed your expectations. I genuinely had a good time while watching this. Power Rangers has a lot of heart and eagerness to it and for the most part- it pleases.