Power Rangers is a franchise that has lasted because it has a tried and tested formula that works. Teenagers get superpower as well as colorful outfits and must defend the earth (or neighborhood) from a galactic threat that then escalates to giant monster vs giant robot.
There have been other movies before, but none have done that well. Now it seems that every studio needs a big franchise under their belt so why not this one?
Kicking off everything is a flashback to prehistoric Earth where colorful warriors lay defeated from a battle, when their armor disintegrates it reveals them to be aliens. One of them stands victorious over the others, this one is named Rita, the last one living, Zordon (Bryan Cranston) orders a meteor to hit earth and buries five colorful coins until the right people can claim them. Cut to present time where the land has become the small town of Angel Grove.
In the town we see a young man named Jason (Dacre Montgomery) attempting a prank that involves the school mascot cow, this goes awry and he is then sentenced to school on Saturday’s just so he can graduate. In this same class there is Billy (RJ Cyler) a possibly autistic kid that is the motormouth and juxtaposes the others with his offbeat ways (probably my favorite). Kimbery (Naomi Scott) a former popular girl but is now in-class and unfriended because she sent a picture and punched out a popular boys tooth (they put it back), later they run into Rini (Becky G) a girl who wander around pretty much and isn’t interested in getting to know the gang, then there’s Zack (Ludi Lin) who also wanders around but is also crazy (cause he tells us so) and more invites himself.
Eventually they do uncover the coins and they get powers and unlock other things and must face the threat, yadda-yadda-yadda.
Clearly the most effort has gone into adding depth to these teenage characters, giving them backstory and trauma and some kind of adversity to tackle. They are all part of a different ethnicity which adds diversity and is more like humanity coming together rather than mostly white people and the token minority.
The thing about all of this is that this is Power Rangers (try saying it out loud). This is by its nature corny, colorful and lighthearted. So they keep in some of the quips and color but when they introduce the dark, edgy elements it doesn’t mesh. A comedic scene can play out and it’s fine, however a dark scene can be pulled-off well but becomes that just happened in a movie where the cheesy things happened it’s like we’re in another movie. Good movies have a theme and tone consistent throughout, they establish if this is for children, teenagers or adults and plays to the kind of mood for said audience. This comes off more unhinged.
Rita Repulsa is the original big villain in the first season of Power Rangers. Here she is given a now look but still taking ques from the original (mostly in the staff) and reworked to be more threatening. The main draw is Elizabeth Banks who decides to go all out in performing her as well as clearly having a lot of fun. It’s hammy, but in a controlled way.
This movie has everything that fans of Power Rangers will expect, but may be not how they’re used to getting it. But even then, does this movie work? It works well enough, it is self aware enough to point out some more obvious cliches and pokes fun of itself enough while clearly being enthusiastic over the source material. For a summer blockbuster for kids and teenagers this is a standard plot with good intention of having a diverse cast. It will do no harm and there are moments where people will be entertained.