Well, it’s once again time for Hollywood to take something from a past decade and reboot it for a new generation to make boatloads of cash. Nostalgia has meant big bucks for tinseltown in the past decade. From Trans- formers to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Mad Max, reboots and reimaginings have resulted in bucketloads of cash for studios, and the next franchise that has been retooled for a new audience is the American/Japanese action comedy drama hybrid that won the hearts of children in the 1990s and is still going strong today, Saban’s Power Rangers. Power Rangers is up there with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as one of pop culture’s longest running franchises, going through several different eras and incarnations. Despite not watching the show religiously as a youth, I do know enough about the franchise to catch any Easter eggs and appreciate any throwbacks to past incarnations, which this film does have.
The thing to understand about this movie is that it is silly and at times incredibly stupid, and I mean really stupid. Now having said that would you believe me if I said that this film is also immensely entertaining and at times very heartfelt? How can it be both, you ask? Well, let me dissect that a bit. Saban’s Power Rangers focuses on five teenagers with attitude played by Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, and Ludi Lin. Unlike in the original show, Mighty Morphin, these teenagers actually do have attitude and aren’t just a bunch of unrealistically perfect high school students participating in an unbelievable amounts of after school activities. Each of the main leads do exceptionally good work in this film, successfully fleshing out characters that in the wrong hands could have come off as extremely bland. The film is much more adult and violent than the show it is adapting, having some swearing, death scenes and some very intense moments during the climax. The film has a bit of trouble balancing tone; a scene might have a genuine and somber moment between the leads which is then juxtaposed with a scene of Bryan Cranston as Zordon telling then to morph or them fighting Rita’s rock monsters.
The two tones don’t always mesh perfectly, unfortunately.
Speaking of Rita, Elizabeth Banks portrays the villain made popular in the show’s original season and succeeds at both honoring the original and putting her own unique spin on it. She is hamming it up to an absurd level in this film, but here it’s very much appreciated as Rita was very over the top in the show. It’s clear Banks is having the time of her life playing this deliciously evil villain. It’s things like her performance, the interactions between the rangers, and the more human and relatable moments that raise this up from being a bland, cynical cash grab made by corporate executives to being an entertain- ing cash grab made by corporate executives with a lot of heart and passion.
The action scenes, despite being very obvious CGI, are still fast paced and very fun. Fun is the key word when describing this movie. Is it flawed? Yes. Is it tonally uneven? Yes. Is it sometimes indescribably dumb, even including an excessive amount of Krispy Kreme product placement that is actually integral to the plot? Yes, but the film is ultimately engaging and energetic enough that I can accept the glaring issues and just have a good time. Also, make sure you stick around for the mid credits scene which provides a little tease for a potential sequel. For fans who truly know the franchise or have done their homework it is a delightful bit of fan service.
Saban’s Power Rangers will not please everyone as it is insanely cheesy and over the top, but Power Rangers has always been cheesy and over the top, so as long as you go in with that mentality you will have a fun time at the movies.