“Power Rangers” is far better than it has any right to be. Previous knowledge of the original 1990s television show isn’t required to enjoy it, either. Here is one of those rare movies that will appeal to both its die-hard fans as well as newcomers who have no idea what any of this means, and that’s a sign of quality and skilled storytelling. It’s entertaining as all get-out, and has massive potential to spawn a new franchise.
The plot, which focuses on five misfit teenagers who find an alien spaceship and develop superhuman strength and other special powers, is basic but it works. Of course they have been chosen to save the world from a greater evil but they must learn to work together so they can “morph” into their new alter-egos, the Power Rangers. What truly works about the film is the very likeable kids and cast — these are teens that I want to spend more time with.
The movie isn’t really campy at all when you consider the source material. It’s played straight by the teens (Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, and Becky G.) As well as Bryan Cranston as ghost in the machine Zordon, with Elizabeth Banks being the only exception. Here Banks is unafraid to massively chew the scenery as the Queen of Camp in her portrayal of Rita Repulsa, a gold toothed, scantily clad alien warrior who likes to overact by screaming and making overstated, grand gestures, finished off by a gloriously evil cackle. The special effects are as good as you could reasonably expect, and the film is appropriately rated PG-13 for some sci-fi violence, crude humor and mild language, all thrown in to give your preteen a good thrill.
As with most superhero origin stories, the set-up and back story is immensely enjoyable — until the kids actually become the Power Rangers. That’s when the CGI goes wild and the film loses its personal feeling. There are a lot of rock monsters, explosions and cartoonish action scenes with evil minions trying to destroy the planet. Yawn. But for every noisy, detached element, there’s a wealth of earnest character development — far more than you’d ever expect, and far more than a movie like this deserves.
One major flaw is also one of the most comical things about the film, and that’s the overt product placement for one particular brand of doughnut. It’s so abruptly in-your-face and distracting that the studio should just go ahead and rename the film “Power Rangers: Krispy Kreme Edition.” The characters mention the delicious doughnut chain so often that it starts to become completely ludicrous. I want to see this movie again so I can count how many times you either see a doughnut, there’s a mention of the joint, or there’s a shot of the brand’s logo somewhere in the film. The best laugh out loud moment? During an action-packed major fight scene, Banks actually sits down inside a Krispy Kreme restaurant and pauses to eat a chocolate iced with sprinkles.
I really had a good time at this movie and if you enjoy sci-fi or superhero stories, it’s worth buying a ticket.