Go, Go, Power Rangers!
If you didn’t chant that along in your head, you’re either lying or you aren’t the intended audience for this latest addition to the Power Rangers Franchise.
This grittier reboot of the classic TV show, directed by Dean Israelite, gives us the origin of the mighty morphin Power Rangers, a team of diverse students sworn to protect the Earth. They’re up against Rita Repulsa, an alien woman played by Elizabeth Banks, who wants to claim a crystal of ultimate power that would leave the Earth lifeless if stolen.
If you grew-up with the show, you’ll like the film. It’s a fun romp down memory lane. It brings enough new material to excite with different interpretations and backstories, but also knows when to blast the original theme song and just let the nostalgia take you away.
The film’s more mature feel, Israelite’s biggest gamble, works surprisingly well. There’s a little dissidence seeing such a campy original show turned into more serious fare, and it takes a few tries before anyone can say the phrase “power rangers” in a way you take seriously. Overall, however, the focus on the tougher realities of high school set against a fight for their lives makes these rangers more sympathetic and better mirrors than the originals ever were.
The best update by far goes to the blue ranger, played by RJ Cyler, who is now a teen on the autism spectrum. His disability isn’t just a throwaway plot point either. It informs all the decisions his character makes, without being his only character trait. He’s not endearingly precious. They treat his condition with the humane humor people who cope with disabilities or illness will recognize and appreciate.
The movie hits a few rough patches in its editing and pacing. It’s not always clear how time is passing or whether a dream-sequence has been entered.
There are less fight scenes or giant robot stand-offs than lovers of the original might have hoped for, but the climax of the film does make good on the build-up.
Whether you should see the movie is in the title. If the franchise hasn’t already grabbed you, the movie’s cracks will probably keep you from suiting up. If Power Rangers was your childhood or guilty pleasure, well then, it’s Morphin’ Time!