Power Rangers 12A
In a cinema near you:
A group of misfit teenagers wandering around a goldmine one night discover five strange-looking, coloured stones. The next morning, they awaken to discover that they have gained super strength and other incredible abilities. They learn from alien life forces Alpha 5 and Zordon that they have become a band of warriors known as the Power Rangers. They will have to hone their skills and work together to defeat an evil witch named Rita Repulsa, who wants to steal the earth’s Zeo Crystal, which will drain the planet of all life.
Power Rangers is essentially The Breakfast Club as a superhero movie. It shouldn’t work, but it does.
From the opening scenes where we are introduced to our band of heroes, it’s clear that Power Rangers isn’t free of clichés. You’ve got all the stereotypes you could want in a movie about teenagers here – the rebellious teen, the parents who expect too much from their kid (who already has all these social pressures, obvs), the bully, the bitchy girls, and the smart kid. It’s even got the small American town setting that the kids talk about getting away from.
One gets the sense though that the film is more than aware of its own stereotypes. It doesn’t try to disguise them but embraces them shamelessly, and there’s something admirable and genuine about that. Moreover, the kids – played by relative newcomers Dacre Montgomery (who really looks like Zac Efron), Naomi Scott (it can’t just be me – she does look like Vanessa Hudgens, right?), RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin and Becky G. – are really likeable characters played by skilled actors. Cyler, who audiences might recognise from Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, is particularly charismatic as the autistic Billy.
In terms of pacing and character development, it hits all the right beats and gets everything near-perfect as far as origins stories go. As we’ve seen with the DC output and even to an extent recent Marvel movies (Ant-Man and Doctor Strange were rubbish – sorry, not sorry), good origin stories are harder to come by and Power Rangers is one of the best there have been in a while. The film has the feel of early 2000s superhero movies like Spiderman (the first Tobey Maguire one) and X-Men, before the genre became repetitive or tried to mark everything ‘dark’ and ‘gritty.’
Elizabeth Banks is perfectly fine as Rita; most of the focus is on the kids and their meetings with Alpha 5 and Zordon, played adoringly by Bill Hader and Bryan Cranston respectively, anyway. As a character she fits most appropriately into the film’s third act, where the nostalgic indulgence that fans have been waiting for really goes full-throttle.
In a way, the third act, so clearly made for fans of the original TV series, feels a bit separate from the rest of the film, and perhaps if the filmmakers allowed for what preceded to just be a little cheesier, there would have been a steadier graduation to the finale. Still, Power Rangers is a genuinely entertaining romp with impressive characterisation and thrilling set pieces. It’s never too reliant on the nostalgia factor but also gives fans what they want (you’ll definitely be singing that theme song long after leaving the cinema). The plan is currently to make more movies (there are five more follow-ups in mind according to a very ambitious producer Haim Saban) so here’s hoping we’ll see these guys on the big screen again.
Review by Deirdre Molumby | 12:42 | Friday 24th March 2017 | Movie Review