It is tonally uneven, quite a few elements fall completely flat (Hello, Final Battle), and — simply based on its existence — it is, arguably, be the second-easiest movie to dismiss this weekend, sight unseen. However, if you allow yourself the opportunity to actually enjoy it, POWER RANGERS is a surprisingly fun origin story that somehow delivers.
[DISCLAIMER: While I did watch the original MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS series, I wasn’t a huge fan of it… and the only bit of nostalgia I feel towards the show is due to everybody’s crush, Amy Jo Johnson. Simply put, I was not looking forward to watching this one.]
Without getting too far into spoiler territory, POWER RANGERS is clearly inspired by THE BREAKFAST CLUB (!) — and that set-up works. Five mismatched teenagers in still-fictional Angel Grove are destined to become a team of powerful superheroes who must save their small town (and, I guess, the world) from being destroyed by the evil Rita Repulsa. And here is where we get to the ultimate problem of the movie.
This IS a Power Rangers movie, and, suitably, Elizabeth Banks (Rita) gives the most campy, over-the-top performance since Frank Langella as Skeletor. Banks is the definition of “self-aware,” and she actually nails the spirit of the source material. Unfortunately, by doing so, she stands out like a sore thumb because all of the other actors got the memo that this was going to be a ‘gritty’ (read: realistic) reboot.
Our relatively unknown main cast (Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, and Becky G.) give shockingly nuanced and heartfelt takes that seem at odds with the veteran performers (Banks, Bryan Cranston, and Bill Hader). The chemistry between the younger stars, however, is strong enough to keep you invested in a silly and simple story that takes over two hours to tell.
Whether the blame lies with director Dean Israelite (PROJECT ALMANAC) or the studio (that put its name in the official title), POWER RANGERS is all over the map — but that is also why it’s a lot of fun.
Three out of Five Beers.