In prehistoric times, Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and his team of alien rangers battled Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks). Their final showdown was to protect the Zeo crystal, an artifact found on every planet which has the ability to both create and extinguish life. In a last-ditch effort, Zordon sacrificed himself, hiding the power coins in the hope that one day the next generation of Power Rangers would find them.
Jump to modern day, where five Angel Grove high school students, Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Billy (RJ Cyler), Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G.) all stumble upon the ancient coins. Imbued with superhuman strength and abilities, the group must learn to work together in order to save their hometown of Angel Grove, and the rest of the world, from certain destruction.
Despite its flaws – of which there are several – the film does a good enough job of relaunching the franchise, thanks mainly to the chemistry between the rangers. During moments like the group bonding over a campfire confessing their secrets or regrouping after a devastating loss to Rita, these kids display genuine moments of vulnerability that not only makes their characters feel real but also relatable – even if they are essentially “Guardians of the Galaxy” lite with heavy-handed dialogue.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the villain of the film. Banks makes some interesting, albeit odd, choices in her portrayal of the iconic character, such as literally eating gold. At one point the movie depicts the sorceress like a monster out of a horror movie with several stuttering jump cuts that stagger her movements, but as the movie goes on, it abandons that idea in favor of a campy, one-note villain and a thoroughly over-the-top performance.
It’s these inconsistencies that are the main problem here. Zordon describes her as pure evil, yet she chooses not to kill the rangers when given the opportunity. In fact, she actually seems to come off as a reasonable character by the end of the film. Obviously, there wouldn’t be much of a movie if she killed our heroes after their first encounter, but she doesn’t seem like much of a threat to these “teenagers with attitude”, except in terms of her dialogue.
Cranston’s Zordon works well as a flawed leader hoping to succeed vicariously through this new team, even though at times it seems like Walter White yelling at Jesse Pinkman. Bill Hader’s performance as Alpha 5 is charming to some degree, if underutilized as a caretaker/tour guide of the ship.
Aside from Rita’s motivations (or lack thereof), the Zeo crystal story is about as thin as any story found in the original television series and the film has a decidedly “unfinished” quality at times – there are a few moments that drop you into the middle of a scene as if part of the scene was cut/edited out. For example, Jason returns the power sword at the end of the film but the dialogue suggests that there might have been more to the scene. Hopefully a director’s cut or extended edition will be released that will help fill in those gaps. However, most of the fan service works – especially the use of the original theme song – although some of the iconic dialogue feels forced like, “its morphin time,” or “make my monster grow.”
All things considered, the movie is a bit of a mess, but fans of the original series will definitely enjoy this modern take of the franchise. Casual moviegoers on the other hand may find themselves rolling their eyes at several points – which is understandable – but there should still be enough entertaining moments to keep their interest. The movie isn’t a reinvention of the franchise, but is a definite improvement on the original source material. The film, like the series, is a fun time but with some surprisingly deep character moments.
The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511