Power Rangers reboot is cheesy, self-serious
Film review by Lindsey Bahr, of the Associated Press
Theres a question every piece of intellectual property needs to ask itself before a new version is made: How seriously should we treat the source material?
Theres no right answer. Thereve been successful versions of both.
Irreverent and meta takes on dated or impossible material have worked (usually thanks to Phil Lord and Chris Miller) as have deathly serious interpretations.
In the case of Power Rangers , that cheesy Saturday morning show that cobbled together shameless merchandising goals, dubbed Japanese action footage and sanitized high school shenanigans, they went mostly serious. And it might not have been the best call for a story that still involves a villain named Rita Repulsa who wanders around town eating gold. But well get to her later.
Even with such campy morsels to play with, the vibe director Dean Israelite seems to be going for is Friday Night Lights meets Fantastic Four, which actually isnt totally awful at the beginning as we meet the five high school students destined to wield their newly found superpowers to save the world.
Theres the star football player, Jason (Dacre Montgomery), whos rebelling against his good-boy image; the once-popular girl Kimberly (Naomi Scott, who looks like a combination of Sarah Michelle Gellar and Emma Roberts); the on-the-spectrum Billy (RJ Cyler); the mysterious new girl Trini (Becky G.); and the adventurous Zack (Ludi Lin). Theyre angsty teens with secrets and zero perspective so imagine how weird things get when they all happen to be hanging out one night in a restricted mining area, stumble upon some jewels, get into a would-be fatal car crash and wake up with the ability to crush iPhones and scale mountains.
Its hard to muck up the excitement of testing out your newfound superpowers, but then the ridiculous plot has to kick in (and all the requisite origin story clichés) and you can see the film struggling to maintain its straight face while Bryan Cranstons pin art face bellows at the Rangers and Elizabeth Banks Rita Repulsa devours every piece of gold she can find.
Banks is actually fairly fun in the part she snivels and sneers with campy glee under the pounds of zombie makeup as she fiendishly terrorizes some engagement ring shoppers at a jewelry store like shes the only one who understands what movie shes in.
But good lord does this film overstay its very conditional welcome. Israelite, who also made the occasionally riveting found-footage, time-travel pic Project Almanac, gives the images some grit and visual interest but the story just spends too much time on the maudlin coming-of-age and teambuilding. A little less therapy and a little more action would have gone a long way in the mushy middle section.
By the time the Power Rangers figure out how to morph, youre already looking for a way to morph out of the theater, which is a shame because for whatever its worth, the cheesiest, most Power Rangers-y moments are saved for the final battle.
Much like the teens at the center, Power Rangers goes through some awkward growing pains in real time trying to figure out what movie it wants to be or even should be.
Power Rangers One and a half stars out of four Released by: Lionsgate Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, language and some crude humor. Running time: 124 minutes