Taking the crooked with the straights. That’s the best way to describe what you’ll be doing when you purchase a ticket to go see the new Power Rangers film. More entertaining than the raggedy trailers let on, but taking itself far too serious to be truly fun, the movie settles for a weird middle ground that doesn’t entirely form.
It’s a shame really because all of the elements for a successful adaptation were there. In this version, we are taken to the town of Angel Grove, after a prologue that shows us what happened when Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) faced off, 65 million years ago. Our teen heroes are various forms of outcasts and delinquents (Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becki G, Ludi Lin) and one night in a quarry, when all of them happen to be there, they discover some glowing rocks and new destinies; they must learn to morph to stop Rita Repulsa from stealing a crystal that would allow her to rule the galaxy.
This new Power Rangers film is truly a mixed bag. I think the problem inherently was that it making this story more serious, it misses out on some of the wonder of the original series. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie is silly as hell, but there’s something incredibly endearing about that, allowing you to more readily accept the foolishness. Without that kind of crazy, Power Rangers is left to was a very thin line, which it can barely do. The characters flatten out into archetypes (only Cyler and Montgomery are able to act unscathed) and their backstories conjure more laughter than should (Kimberly’s backstory is truly a mess and Zach is THE WORST character). The dialogue is far to expositional than need be. Most everyone in the theater has seen some sort of Power Rangers show or film, finding a more creative way to impart information on the Rangers. This movie is just feel too serious for their own good sometimes and the filmmaking reflects that (I can’t believe their first major battle after morphing was shot underwater). I’d say that the movie wastes Elizabeth Banks’ Rita but it doesn’t give her enough to do or encourage her to really chew on the scenery enough to make a full judgement.
Despite it’s problems, I did enjoy the characters. Seeing these unique people come together and have to fight was worthwhile. Also, even though the movie gets serious, it does let its freak flag fly and in those moments, you get transported back to your fondest childhood memories. I will say that by the end of the film that I didn’t feel like anything was unearned, which is more than can be said about other things I recently watched. The movie is also hilarious and incredibly moving at times, I just wish they could lighten up a bit.