Director: Dean Israelite
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks, Bill Hader, David Denman
Written by: John Gatlin, (story) Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney and (based on “Power Rangers” created) Haim Saban
Running Time: 124 mins
Release date: 24th March 2017
It was a staple of Saturday morning children’s TV. A loud, destructive action programme about five kids dressed in bright coloured costumes taking on an array of monsters led by the evil Rita Repulsa. The dialogue scenes were American edited into Japanese action scenes. Like all TV shows nowadays, it’s time for a big screen reboot, in which we get to relive the show with some modern twists. So now comes Power Rangers, which takes Transformers and the current trend of Superhero films and smashes them together. Sounds like your own personal nightmare? I thought that too but I have to say, it surprised me.
A group of high school outcasts living in a small town stumble upon a long-forgotten meteor in a gravel pit. Encased are five coloured discs. Each teenager is drawn to one. After surviving an accident, these kids discover they have incredible powers. This leads them back to discovering a hidden spacecraft where they are told by Zordon, a talking face on a wall, that they have been chosen to be Power Rangers, guardians of the planet. They have to stop the evil Rita Repulsa from finding a crystal and ruling the Earth.
From the plot alone, it sounds horrible, yet the story, as thin as it is, is nothing more horrendous than something from Marvel, or worse, something from Michael Bay. It would have been very easy to go down the shallow, vulgar world of Mr Bay. Instead, director Dean Israelite and writer John Gatlin decide that character is just as important as action. They take their time for the audience to understand the main protagonists. It may not be in too much detail but this isn’t all about the crash bang wallops.
Coming at us like a modern take of The Breakfast Club, the five chosen ones, a disgraced sports jock, a fallen cheerleader, a drop-out, a loner (who is LGBTQ) and a geek (who is on the Autistic Spectrum) are brought together and have to become friends in order for them to morph into the Power Rangers. This takes well over an hour before we even get to see the new-look costumes and they get to face the villain of the piece.
Once they do transform, then it’s business as usual, as the special effects team, not working on the kind of budgets that other film similar work with, give us a series of explosions, fights and general destruction. Unlike Michael Bay’s Transformers, this isn’t as annoying or as empty-headed. While violent and sometimes quite nasty for the very young (it deserves its 12 A classification) it’s actually much more fun than expected.
The young cast is bright and energetic and, unlike the TV show, there is some acting going on here. RJ Cyler, in particular, is good as Brian, the electronics expert who has Autism. This is pitched just right, never going into caricature instead he handles it with great sensitivity. The adult stars, Bryan Cranston, who is a disembodied head on a wall, goes through his lines like he cannot wait to spend that large cheque he is going to receive from the box office takings, while Elizabeth Banks goes full-on pantomime villainess as Rita, savouring every evil line with great relish.
Power Rangers is not perfect. There are a few moments where you feel the innuendos don’t work and the plot has enough holes in to call the council and have them fill them. Yet its heart is in the right place, there is some neat camera work, especially near the beginning and as a popcorn movie, it ticks the boxes. Far better than the Transformer movies, it was a painless experience that I kind of enjoyed.