I am a huge Power Rangers fan so I was excited for the reboot. Maybe my expectations were way too high but this new film just left me disappointed in every way. (original review)
Synopsis: Saban’s Power Rangers follows five ordinary teens who must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove — and the world — is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so, they will have to overcome their real-life issues and before it’s too late, band together as the Power Rangers. (eOne Films)
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, and RJ Cyler
Writer: John Gatins
Director: Dean Israelite
Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 124mins
Was this a necessary reboot? Probably not, but here we are nonetheless. This is a reboot so this film reintroduces these familiar characters and updates them for today. As we all know, they are teenagers and there was nothing new when it came to that. They were misfits, meeting in the detention hall, similar to The Breakfast Club. Each of their origin stories were cliche with the film focusing on three of the five main Rangers, Jason (Montgomery), Kimberly (Scott), and Billy (Cyler).
The problem with that was that it was difficult to ever get invested in any of the characters and because the film depends so much on these characters, that’s a problem. Younger kids may be to able to relate to them but others probably won’t. Instead of developing the character further, the film thrusts them forward into a situation leading to them to change into stronger people who can jump for some reason.
They eventually met up with Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) and then ultimately became the Rangers. But until they can be Rangers, they have to learn to be a team and the film took way too long with this. Being teenagers, they had to be convinced that something was going on, that an evil sorceress named Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) wanted a crystal buried underneath the earth so she could control the universe. This got a little frustrating but they eventually came to their senses.
In order to morph into their respective armors, they had to be connected to one another but that was easier said than done. They had to be a team so the film started to overemphasize the importance of being a team. They fought together as a team but that still wasn’t good enough because they also had to overcome each other’s differences and come together. Since the characters were hard to care about, this wasn’t very compelling to watch.
While all of this was happening, Repulsa was rampaging through Angel Grove, killing anyone in her way, looking for the crystal and finding gold to rebuild her faithful companion, Goldar, to dig out the crystal for her. We also learned that she and Zordon had past history with the two being on an ancient team of Power Rangers, who were tasked to protect the crystal, led by Zordon, a former Red Ranger. She betrayed Zordon and the rest of their team, corrupted by power.
The Rangers eventually became a team and took on Repulsa but that wasn’t until 3/4 of the way through the film which was disappointing. It was disappointing because the amount of buildup did not justify the end result. The final battle lacked excitement and ended much too quickly. The fight choreography was poor and the hit or miss visual effects were distracting at times.
Despite everything wrong with this film, it still could have worked if it wasn’t so cheesy. What was great about the original (and still running) TV show was how silly it was. This film took a different approach, taking in a darker, more grounded direction and it simply didn’t work. It felt like it lacked this self-awareness. What didn’t help was the terrible dialog which often bordered between cheesy and bad.
The acting was pretty bad across the board but it wasn’t necessarily their fault. The Rangers lacked any chemistry with Jason and Billy being the most believable. Montgomery as Jason lacked any charisma whatsoever and looked lost most of the film. Scott was boring. Becky G as Trini, the Yellow Ranger, was the outsider who was just thrown in with the rest and didn’t do much. Ludi Lin as Zack, the Black Ranger, was not believable as the “bad boy” and the cheesiest of the bunch. The best Ranger was Cyler as Billy, the Blue Ranger, actually tried to do something with his character, a smart autistic teen, and was compelling and funny. The bigger names here were Cranston, Banks, and Hader but they all phoned it in here. Banks was the worst, bringing full on campiness with Repulsa and making her unbearable and cringe-worthy.
If you stay tuned, you will find a mid-credits scene foreshadowing the appearance of the Green Ranger, Tommy Oliver, in the next film.
Overall, this was a very disappointing and unnecessary reboot of the popular TV series with a story brimming with cheese, terrible dialog and pacing, spotty visual effects, and bad performances. Definitely one of the worst films of the year.