Haim Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers has been around for at least twenty or so years. Going from TV to the big screen and never really doing much except exciting twelve-year-olds, not that there is anything wrong with that, but it is a hard demographic to maintain over time. This edition of the Power Rangers arrived to the big screen, did moderately well at the box office, however, it was regarded as mediocre by critics. But, most of the die-hard fans seemed to enjoy this latest version of the original series.
I must confess I have never been a big fan of the Power Rangers. It all seemed to be a bunch of nonsense. I mean, c’mon Rita Repusla, Zords, Zordon and of the cheesiness that ensued…really? So as I settled in to watch the Power Rangers, I was not expecting much. Despite having die-hard fans tell me it was actually pretty darn good, I still was skeptical of what I was getting into. Well, I am happy to say that although a long way off from being great, Power Rangers is not half bad.
I was surprised at how much effort went into making this film. The entire cast with the exception of Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa and Bryan Cranston as Zordon, is new. I applauded the filmmakers for casting relative unknowns as their Power Rangers. Dacre Montgomery (Jason, Red Ranger and their leader) Naomi Scott (Kimberly, Pink Ranger), RJ Cyler (Billy, Blue Ranger), Ludi Lin (Zack, Black Ranger) and Becky G (Trini, Yellow Ranger) are the new Rangers. They are all given back story that gives their characters some depth and their performances are decent. I mean, nobody is taking home the Oscar for this film, but I was involved with their characters and what was happening to them.
I heard people say the weakest link was Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa and that she was too far over the top. This was not my reaction, either. Yes, she is silly but in a good way. She plays off of the other characters well and Elizabeth Banks pulls off an otherwise pretty campy character. Bryan Cranston is in the opening scene as a Power Ranger from ions ago and spends the rest of the film as the digitized face of Zordon. I can safely assume this was a pretty easy gig for him. I even enjoyed Bill Hader’s Alpha 5 voice overs, as well. He seems to be having fun with a character that I found annoying in the TV show. Hader’s take on his character is to play it a bit more mature but maintain a sense of humor and it comes through on screen.
There has been a serious attempt to make a darker, more adult oriented film with this Power Rangers and for the most part, it works. The screenplay is admirable and is peppered with positive messages about teamwork, being selfless and backing up your friends. Hardly original but in Power Rangers, these messages are worthy of being pushed and there are some clever one-liners that are scattered to all of the Rangers. Visually speaking, the effects are competent and are not the crappy effects that once populated the TV show. Granted they had a bigger budget for this film than the TV show, but the original Star Trek had a paltry budget, too, for the TV show and more often than not, was able to pull off the visuals. That was back in the 60’s so there was no excuse for the cringe-worthy visual effects of the Power Rangers in the 90’s.
Brian Tyler’s scores over the past few years have been hit or miss. When he is good he is really good but sometimes his scores all sound the same. I will say he has composed a great score for Power Rangers. It works within the confines of the film and is able to be enjoyed on its own. I also found Power Rangers to be rather impressively shot by cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd and director Dean Israelite keeps most of the silliness to a minimum at least until the final battle sequence which comes close to reverting back to the 90’s TV show.
If you are a fan of the original Power Rangers, you will more than likely, enjoy what you see with this Power Rangers. Most of us are a little older now and can appreciate the original’s cheese and campiness, but still, expect the filmmakers to adapt to an older audience. That is the case with Power Rangers. This is not a great film, but for what it is and what it sets out to do, this film accomplishes it. If you were never a fan of the Power Rangers, this film won’t sway you. If you are not a fan but appreciate a film that is making an earnest effort (and for the most succeeds) to entertain you, then you would be in my boat. There is a final scene that features a nod to the Green Ranger for the upcoming sequel so stay put for the final credits.
Power Rangers – *** out of five
Power Rangers – Rated PG-13 for language and violence
Power Rangers – Run Time is 123 minutes
Power Rangers is now available on DVD, On Demand, subscription services and digital download