“Power Rangers” Is A Jumbled, John-Hughes-Style-Throwback Nostalgia Fest
By Scott Kurland
Film: Power Rangers
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bill Hader, Elizabeth Banks, and Bryan Cranston
Director: Dean Israelite
Like many children of the 90's, I loved watching “The Mighty Morphing Power Rangers.” I just couldn't get enough of it, including that awful 1995 movie featuring Ivan Ooze. It was this enthusiasm that helped me wait in line for two hours (father hopelessly in tow) in the hopes of purchasing the “Power Ranger” action figures. It wasn't until I got older that I realized the show itself utilized old Japanese footage and meshed it into a modern martial-arts-based series aimed at young boys and girls. This week’s film is “Power Rangers”- a modern day version with darker tones and more attitude. Let’s see if this “Breakfast Club” version of the “Power Rangers” can go go, shall we?
“Power Rangers” is the story of five teenagers living in Angel Grove. There’s Jason who's the jock (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly the princess (Naomi Scott), Billy the nerd (RJ Cyler), loner Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini the outcast (Becky G). As much as this sounds like “The Breakfast Club,” I assure you, only three of them are placed in Saturday detention.One night, the five decide to meet in the woods where they find five "power coins" that lead them to Zordon (Bryan Cranston)- the former leader of the Power Rangers. Now trapped inside in his spaceship’s Holobase, Zordon and Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) attempt to turn these five teenagers into the new Rangers in order to stop the evil Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) who seeks to rule the galaxy.
At first glance, this film may seem like an over-dramatic mess, and in truth, parts of it are. However, there are things that make this film work namely Cranston, Banks, and Cyler. Hader is alright, but this film has a major identity crisis. It’s trying too hard to be “The Breakfast Club.” There’s even a scene where the gang sits in a circle and divulges their deepest darkest secrets to each other. Then the next thing you know, they’re in their Zords and the theme song from the TV show begins to play. This film is truly manic depressive as it repeatedly fluctuates between happy and sad. Still, I am not giving this film a bad review because Banks was amazing as Repulsa. She is like the demented love child of Effie Trinket from “Hunger Games” and The Wicked Witch of the West.
As for Cyler, he captures that socially awkward, nerdy teenager and it never feels forced or fake. He was fantastic in “Me and Earl and The Dying Girl.” Cyler is a talented indie actor in a film starring Disney Channel stars and he’s acting circles around them. Cyler has this likable innocence to him as Billy. He’s the smartest one in the room, but he never makes you feel stupid. Ultimately, Cyler is this films true saving grace.
“Power Rangers” is not a bad film, but it’s too serious for a film about “The Mighty Morphing Power Rangers.” If this film took a genre like "nostalgic throwback" or "teenage drama" that would have been better. The cast works well together and they have decent chemistry, but constantly transitioning back and forth between serious to goofy doesn’t help to capture the film’s message. In addition, the film’s first half-hour has some first person POV’s, I think that’s because director Dean Israelite’s previous film was the found footage feature “Project Almanac.” It worked there, but not here. If you want to see “Power Rangers,” rent it or wait for it to appear on HBO. This is a chicken soup movie that you’d watch when you’re sick and laying on the couch. Save your money, but see it....eventually.
REVIEW RATING: C+