UK Release Date: 24th March 2017
Runtime: 124 minutes
Director: Dean Israelite
Writer: John Gatins
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston, Bill Hader
Synopsis: A group of kids in detention find themselves imbued with super powers when they find strange rocks with alien origins and discover they have a responsibility to take down a threat that could endanger the world.
At present, it feels like nostalgia is Hollywood’s principle weapon. Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Wars and The Jungle Book are all recent examples of how studios have tried to grasp the emotions of your youth and recreate them in a modern setting. There’s varying levels of success and quality in how this is done, but it’s clear we aren’t being allowed to escape what we know and, in Power Rangers, rich men in suits are now coming for the 90s kids. It’s impressive then that this movie manages to feel familiar and comfortable enough to help you easily engage with its characters, while being distinctive enough to feel fresh and different from its charmingly childish source.
Set in fictional Angel Grove, Power Rangers introduces us to Jason, Kimberly, Billy, Zack and Trini – five teenagers with their respective teenage problems, who discover stones and an alien vessel that gives them the power to become our titular superheroes. They must fight Rita Repulsa, played by a wonderfully wild Elizabeth Banks, who wants to steal a gem buried under the city, which gave Earth life.
Probably with an eye on the fact he was always going to struggle to match Marvel in terms of superhero spectacle, director Dean Israelite spends a lot of time with his teenage characters. They all embody various high school clichés enough that they are both accessible and slightly annoying, but they come with modern issues that helps them feel real. One is struggling to come to terms with her sexuality, another is caring for his sick mother, and another is feeling regret for her part in a sexting scandal. These issues are often played out in scenes that run a little long and each character’s theme can be repeated to the extent they touch the edge of being boring.
However, this level of character work pays off in the movie’s action sequences, which are varied and imaginative, if a little short. Unlike a number of recent superhero films, you care about the people inside the slick-looking Power Rangers suits. Israelite’s commitment to creating a modern feel is felt from the teen issues on display through to the movie’s soundtrack.
While this new take on Power Rangers is never quite able to escape the fact it’s a remake of a 90s children’s TV show, this iteration of Power Rangers stands on its own and plays on its source frequently enough to satisfy returning fans, but also not too much to alienate the new ones who will be pestering their parents for cinema tickets to come and see the film all over again.
The film may struggle to cut through with critics and that is understandable considering the movie’s obvious pacing and scripting issues but, if they are allowed to flourish, the Power Rangers introduced here might just develop to be something that feels distinctly different to the over-produced superhero movies currently stuffing the market.
Pop or Poop?
It’s not going to please a certain corner of the critical fraternity, but Power Rangers succeeds resoundingly in its attempts to bring a classic kiddie television phenomenon into the modern world. Helped by campy work from Elizabeth Banks and a real sense of fun in the action sequences, the film is able to paper over its cheesier cracks.
The film puts in a lot of work to build its characters and that pays off in creating a team of superheroes that the audience really cares for when the final conflict arrives.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.