Power Rangers

Director: Dean Israelite

Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G., Ludi Lin, Bill Hader, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks

Rated: PG-13 (sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, language, and for some crude humor)

A group of high-school kids, who are infused with unique superpowers, harness their abilities in order to save the world.

 

Power Rangers

By Matt Greene

The very concept of “Power Rangers” is like straight from a child’s playtime: kid-aged superheroes, funny robots, dino-vehicles, creepy aliens, rock ninjas, Kaiju-Transformer battles. This 21st century incarnation fulfills all these juvenile points, with hectic editing, cliched dialogue, bad music & convenient predictability in nearly every story beat. Yet somehow, this unexpected remake is still silly-fun for middle-schoolers, with just the tiniest amount of narrative and character weight to engage adults, especially the nerdier ones.

Like The Breakfast Club with karate, five misfit teenagers in detention stumble upon some ancient alien stones, which turn them into a team of superheroes who must fight an evil alien baddie named Rita (one of the most hilarious villain names ever). Other than Billy, the genius nerd with a Drax-like propensity for being too literal, the characters sort of get lost in the noise and color, written either too specific or too vague.

However, the movie experience is largely pretty fun. In the style of movies like Chronicle and Raimi’s Spider-Man, we watch these youth deal with their new powers with wide-eyed excitement. The action scenes are cartoonishly intense, the cinematography moves with surprising brains, and the climax is even a mild seat-clincher.

Would this have worked better as a serialized TV show? Probably. The stuff in the bones of this universe is good, but its flesh is a bit flabby in this format. Still, as an old fan of this supremely stupid property, this is a nostalgic and sincere little fantasy outing. Go-go Power Rangers, indeed.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 

Power Ranger

By Cole Schneider

“Power Rangers” has so many stupid moments that it will roll your eyes for you. Its excessive exposition and product placement seem like they will bring out cynicism, but “Power Rangers” is nothing if not earnest.

Perhaps it’s more the pretentiousness of modern superhero movies, but the radical sincerity of “Power Rangers” builds as it goes and its convoluted story begins to seem fun as its caricatured characters begin to seem like real people. It’s these characters that are the heart of the film, which is rooted more in John Hughes than in “The Dark Knight”. All five rangers have full and genuinely sympathetic arcs, as does the team itself. I underestimated each of them—and the movie—upon first meeting them. By the middle of the film, I cared about them, rooted for them, and was invested in their every move.

It’s a shame that these characters are surrounded by so many subpar storytelling tactics, because the heart of the film is filled with the naïve teenage optimism that its heroes reflect. It’s just so pleasantly weird. It’s appropriately caught between childishness and sensibility. The movie starts with awful cow penis jokes and unending clichés and then morphs over the course of two hours into a felt celebration of weirdness and cliché-redemption. Even Elizabeth Banks turn as the villainous Rita Repulsa is genius in its unhinged zaniness.

This, not X-Men or The Avengers, is a team of superheroes that 13 year-olds can identify with—one that has both cow penis jokes and a creeping sentimentality. I doubt it’s successful enough to garner a sequel, but if it does I will gladly go see it.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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