Based on the kid’s TV show of the same name, Power Rangers follows five teens with attitude who are given special abilities by a face in the wall called Zordon. Together they fight Rita Repulsa an evil Power Ranger hellbent on destroying all life on earth with a giant monster called Goldar.
Now I didn’t grow up with power rangers, I did have a friend in primary school who was obsessed with them, but I understand the appeal. Kids granted superpowers to fight goofy villains and giant monsters in their giant robots, or zords. It was a silly adventure with rubber costumes and tones of action. The film version has none of that.
Yes, it still has tones of action, kids are still granted superpowers as well as giant robots, and there’s still a face in the wall called Zardon, this time played by Brian Cranston from Breaking Bad, but the intangible essence that made power rangers appealing is no longer there. The show was a lighthearted, colourful and very campy affair with hyperbolic acting, and cardboard sets. Power Rangers replaces all that with a muted and gritty film that doesn’t know who it’s for; it feels too adult for children and too childish for adults, and the result feels tonally strange and disjointed.
I also had a problem with the pace of the movie; it all happened far too quickly. Everyone speaks and moves to fast so you almost get whiplash when the movie first starts up. I know Power Rangers is an action show, so plot is only a means to get to a set piece, but the cinematography and editing were so quick it was impossible to understand what was going on, other than the fact that lasers were being fired. It would have worked better as a TV show, which would allow greater character growth, some interesting and well thought out action sequences and more importantly time for these things to happen.
Finally, let’s talk about the performances. Each of the main 5 Rangers did have some interesting character, with all of them struggling to deal with some very relatable problems. The 5 actors were good and had an alright chemistry, but the speed at which the film went never allowed them to really shine. The more veteran actors, Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks, are another story. Both Cranston as Zardon as well as Bill Hader, who
voiced Alfa-5 sounded incredibly bored and didn’t bring anything to the film other than their faces and voices. Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa tries a different approach as she brings a sense of fun to her portrayal of the ultimate evil. Though perhaps not as campy as the original, there is an energy that makes her one of the better elements of the film.
Power Rangers isn’t great, which is a shame, because it could have been another smash hit like the self-aware Lego Batman. Instead what we got was a joyless generic, gritty reimagining of something that should have been fun and absurd, packed with product placement.