By Travis Martin
Power Rangers have been part of my childhood since I was five years old, ever since “Power Rangers in Space.“ So, when it was announced that Lionsgate was making a live-action film, titled “Power Rangers,“ I was both excited and wary for the film. Now, while this film is not perfect, I did enjoy the film and believe that the positives outweighs the negatives, and that any Power Rangers fan will enjoy this film.
The story of “Power Rangers” centers on five teenagers, Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Billy (RJ Cyler), Zack (Ludi Lin), and Trini (Becky G.). All in some form are an outcast or screwup: Jason got kicked off the football team, Kimberly is ousted from the cheerleading squad, Billy is an autistic nerd, Zack is a daredevil living in a trailer park with his sick mom, and Trini is a loner who moves from school to school. However, when all five inexplicably end up at a mining sight and find five colored coins, they become stronger and more agile. It is returning to the sight that they find a buried spaceship containing Zordon (Bryan Cranston), a former Red Ranger whose essence is in the ship and his robotic assistant Alpha 5 (Bill Hader). It is there that the teens must train and learn to work together in order to unlock the full power of the Power Rangers and stop former Green Ranger Rita Rapulsa (Elizabeth Banks).
For starters, the cast gives it their all in the film. Each of the Rangers has a distinct personality and backstory. It may not be as fleshed out, but it works in how much chemestry each of the characters have for each other. If I had to choose one performance that really did shine, it would have to by Cyler’s as Billy. Billy is the hart and soul of the Rangers, and has numerous pivotal scenes that show how important a nerdy, awkward, sweet guy is needed on the team. There was also an unexpected rout taken with Trini’s character, but that is spoiler territory. Cranston and Hader also give fair performances for their characters, but it was really the new actors that were the best.
However, the problem I have with “Power Rangers” is it’s trying to be two films: the first part, despite not having any morphing, is great as a teen drama that really explores who these Rangers are as people. However, the second part involves morphing and fighting the Puddies and using giant Zords to take down giant monster Goldar. While that part is fun, it just does not mix with the story of the first two thirds of the film. It’s trying to mix a gritty, heartfelt adventure with 90s cheesiness of the original “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” show. While it’s not terrible, this mix feels clunky and too CG-heavy like most blockbusters.
The cheesiness is also felt with Bank’s over-the-top performance as Rita, who does not fit in with the serious acting that the rest of the actors portray. Rita, like the show’s portrayal, is very comedic. But it does not work with the characterization given to everyone. She was definitely the weakest part of the film.
“Power Rangers” is not a great film, but it is fun to watch. I believe that more Power Rangers fans, like me, will enjoy the film more than non-fans. While the goofy latter half does not mesh with the grounded first part, it is still a lot of fun after seeing the character development of all five Rangers. I would be excited for a sequel to this film adaption of “Power Rangers” (which they hint at after the credits that only Power Rangers fans will know).