‘Power Rangers’ is more goofy than gritty


Back in the ’90s, you probably knew them as “Mighty Morphin,” and these days they take the pre-fix “Saban’s,” but we all know them best as simply the “Power Rangers.” Executive producer Haim Saban discovered the “Super Sentai” series on Japanese television in the 1980s and brought the concept of teens in colorful costumes fighting monsters to American audiences in the form of the somewhat silly, but much beloved, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” series. Now, of course, we have the big screen reboot, for better or for worse.

Joseph Kahn’s “Power/Rangers” short film that popped up online in 2015 showed just what a truly dark Power Rangers project could look like, but this version of the “Power Rangers” is about as dark as a CW series: just enough to be taken (somewhat) seriously, but with enough of a sense of humor about itself to have some fun, too.

The team of screenwriters has brought a sense of levity, as well as realism to the high school dramas, and the film is more about a bunch of oddball teens than it is about colorfully suited karate-chopping superheroes. The first half is “The Breakfast Club” with way more extreme daredevil behavior, as this posse of misfits discover each other and stumble into their startling new powers by way of five colorful coins they happen to blast out of a mountainside.

The explosives enthusiast is Billy (R.J. Cyler, who steals the whole movie), a neuro-diverse nerd who befriends disgraced football captain Jason (Dacre Montgomery) in detention. Also on the mountain that day are rebellious former cheerleader Kimberly (Naomi Scott), heavy metal yogi Trini (Becky G.) and adrenaline-addled delinquent Zack (Ludi Lin). Soon they’re being groomed by a 65-million-year-old alien, Zordon (Bryan Cranston, no really), and a sassy robot, Alpha (Bill Hader), to take on Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks), who plans to use Goldar the gold monster to steal the Earth’s life crystal.

If the Rangers are on the CW, Banks is in a universe of her own, stalking about the small town of Angel Grove in hobo dominatrix gear, dramatically stage whispering, “GOLD,” “CRYSTALS” and “KRISPY KREME” to no one in particular. It’s a committed performance that inspires chuckles, but hopefully it’s supposed to.

The actual power ranger-ing in the movie is blessedly short, focusing more on character and team building. It’s a good thing, because director Dean Israelite and cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd have a chaotic approach to shooting action. The entire film is dark and murky, and the action sequences have no sense of geography. It seems a trend these days to keep the pace blisteringly fast in order to never let the film drag, but the cutting between scenes could give one whiplash.

We are denied a good morphin’ sequence, though, which was the best, most memorable part of the series. All we get is slow-motion strolling when they could have been wildly peacocking on a cliff’s edge.

“Power Rangers” maintains the essence of its origins in that it’s rather pleasantly bonkers. It errs on the side of goofy rather than gritty, and that’s to its favor. Trying to take this too seriously would be a mistake. Ultimately, it’s not much more than an itch on that nostalgic sweet spot that Hollywood is more than happy to scratch these days.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Movies & TV

New brewpub is coming to downtown Austin from the Brew & Brew team
New brewpub is coming to downtown Austin from the Brew & Brew team

The owners behind the East Austin coffee shop the Wright Bros. Brew & Brew have been busy. They’re opening not only Better Half Coffee & Cocktails on West Fifth Street, a few blocks west of North Lamar Boulevard — but also a brewpub, Hold Out Brewing, right next door. To run it, owners Matt and Grady Wright and Matthew Bolick have recruited...
Go-Go's musical 'Head Over Heels' ticketed for Broadway
Go-Go's musical 'Head Over Heels' ticketed for Broadway

Their lips are no longer sealed.  The musical “Head Over Heels,” which will feature songs from the 1980s female group The Go-Go’s, will be heading to Broadway for the 2018-19 season after opening next spring in San Francisco, Variety reported. Gwyneth Paltrow will be one of the producers for the show, described by Variety...
Best Bites: M&M’s Caramel
Best Bites: M&M’s Caramel

Chocolate and caramel — they go together like bacon and eggs, like bagels and cream cheese, like, uh, shampoo and conditioner. It was only a matter of time before the folks at M&M’s would put caramel inside chocolate and wrap the whole thing in a candy shell. They melt in your mouth, not in your hands. It’s a grand idea, and they...
Chicken, beaujolais sauce makes a special holiday meal
Chicken, beaujolais sauce makes a special holiday meal

A simple Beaujolais sauce glazes chicken for a special meal at this holiday time of year. You can use the same wine in the recipe that you are drinking. If not, use any dry red wine you have on hand. I often use red wine left over from a previous evening for sauces. The recipe calls for raising and lowering the heat to make the sauce. If you have electric...
Name that chateau
Name that chateau

All I ever wanted for Christmas was my own chateau. That's not in the cards this year, so I just opted for the next best thing. I went to the Chateau Souverain website and designed a custom Chateau Whitley label to place on my bottle of Chateau Souverain Chardonnay.  I chose the chardonnay ($13.99 a bottle) because it's my idea of a good white...
More Stories