What a time to be alive right? We live in a time where nostalgia is trendy, so a Power Rangers movie makes complete sense. When I heard that the film would be made I didn’t really know how to take it. I eventually told myself that I would give this movie a chance, hoping that it wouldn’t be a simple cash grab filled with moments that would only excite the hardcore fans of the series. I was hoping that a different approach could possibly give life to the franchise, while maintaining its identity. But that was just me hoping. In all honesty I was expecting this to be a complete train wreck. I was expecting this to end the streak of good movies I’ve seen so far this year. What I landed up getting was some of what I hoped for and some of what I expected.
The first thing I have to mention is the part of the movie that surprised me the most. The actors who play the rangers can actually act. Nothing in the trailers indicated that the acting in the film would be good, but I found myself enjoying most of the performances here. The stand out is clearly R.J. Cyler who played the Billy, the blue ranger. The dude stole every scene he was in. He plays the awkward nerd and is believable in the role. His lines hit all the time and his comedic timing was on point. This dude is going to be a star for sure. Dacre Montgomery as Jason was also really good. He is the red ranger so he got the majority of the lines in the film. I think he did fine in the role even with some pretty shaky writing. The other rangers carry their weight the majority of the time as well, which gives the film a good base to go off of. Bryan Cranston and Bill Hader as Zordon and Alpha are great in their roles too. They weren’t around much, but when they were on screen I enjoyed it a lot.
What made this set up even better was that the characters were actually developed. Obviously some characters got more time than the others, but I can say that the characters in Power Rangers were the strength of the film. They’re a group of misfits who don’t really have a purpose, but have to come together to achieve a goal. It’s a simple concept, but the execution was actually pretty damn good. Watching them getting to know each other and play off of one another was great. I also really liked how there was an attempt to make these rangers role models for kids. They really tried to diversify the rangers and emphasize that the idea of acceptance. I like how it was handled and I think it could really resonate with the younger viewers.
This also feeds into one of the things we all thought would be present in the film; the cheese. Power Rangers is a movie that is not afraid to go where its 90’s predecessor went before. There are some seriously cheesy aspects of the writing that made me laugh out loud. I didn’t mind this because it was entertaining trying to see them hit similar beats as the TV show, but it did create a bit of a tonal conflict in the movie. The film takes itself rather serious so the moments of cheese don’t always land well. This inability to balance the fun with the serious was in the forefront of the film with one specific character.
Rita Repulsa was certainly interesting to watch on screen. I usually like Elizabeth Banks, but in this movie she looked like she was in her own world. Everyone else was trying their absolute hardest to make this film work while she came across as a cartoon villain. I feel like she prepped for this role by watching the 90’s show because of how over the top she was. I couldn’t help but laugh at her attempt to capture the character. Her dialogue was all over the place and she refused to tone down any of the delivery in her lines. She was the one character that just didn’t work for me in the movie. The only positive I can take from her performance was that she looked like she was having a blast doing it. How could you not?
Her portrayal as a whole felt like fan service to those who appreciate the over the top performances of the TV series. Fan service was something that was ever so present in the film and I know people will go back and forth on whether that’s a good thing or not. I personally enjoyed how they tried to maintain a serious story while making references to familiar locations and cues from the TV series. I think it was effective in appealing to both hardcore fans and people who just happen to know that the Power Rangers existed before this movie.
One of the worst aspects of the film was definitely the CGI. While there were a few times that the visuals worked for me, overall it was a piss poor effort considering this movie’s budget was over $100 million. At that point I don’t think there’s really any excuse for the missteps they took here. Along with that the camera work was pretty bad too. There were so many questionable editing choices that made me believe that they knew their CGI sucked. The camera shots were uninspired and noticeably terrible.
What wasn’t piss poor was the product placement in the film. Of all the outrageous things that happen in this movie, the product placement is the clear standout. It’s silly beyond belief, yet genius the more I think about it.
The last thing I’ll say is that the pacing in the movie was a bit off. There is one particular problem that the rangers have in the film that they dwell on for way too long. While I understand they were trying to emphasize the character dynamics, it dragged on for a while. There was about a 10 minute window that could have been cut off that wouldn’t have changed the movie much at all. The build up being extended also left very little time for the rangers to get screen time with their suits on. I think that might disappoint some people who are probably expecting this to be mostly the rangers beating people up. I actually think the first half of the movie is a lot better than the second half though. The build up was extremely promising, but the payoff didn’t feel like it deserved the build up. The ending wasn’t terrible, but it left me wanting a lot more.
Overall, I enjoyed Power Rangers a lot more than I thought I would. They have a solid young cast that I want to see more of. The build up to their story was done really well and their chemistry really shines through out the film. It sadly doesn’t save this film from being deeply flawed though. On a technical level there are things that simply can’t be ignored. The editing and cinematography were both extremely questionable and the CGI was horrendous most of the time. Plus there’s Rita Repulsa who looked like she was filming a completely different movie. As much fun as I had with the film, it’s hard to realistically go with too high of a score with all of these inexcusable mistakes. On the bright side i’m more than willing to give them a chance to fix these mistakes in the next movie.
Power Rangers gets a 66/100