Director: Dean Israelite
Cast: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bill Hader with Elizabeth Banks and Bryan Cranston
Plot: Five unruly kids end up in possession of five mythical stones that possess the power of an ancient race of warriors. Can they live up to that name?
The idea of remaking the Power Rangers into a 2017 action movie sounds a little desperate. With the likes of the LEGO movie, Man from U.N.C.L.E… hell, even Emojis have their own movie now… Surely the camp tone of 90s TV show is all but impossible to translate into a modern day cinema outing.
In fairness to the man, director Dean Israelite gives it a damn good go. Repainting the all-American hero figures with dysfunctional teenagers adds a bit of meat to the bone. This is the story of how five kids (a ex-sportsman with a career-destroying criminal record, the girl recovering from a horrible action, the autistic nerd, the loner girl, the quirky outsider with a difficult home life), try to reshape their life in order to do some actual good. The cast are the kind of attractive young people you expect with American cinema, Montgomery in particular probably cast on the basis he looks good on the posters. But for every interesting character quirk, this Power Ranger’s movie struggles to quite escape the fact that it is a movie with a job to do. There is no demand for this movie, other than the fact some producers somewhere are hoping that there is some money to be made in this venture. What a movie of this nature needs is a new interesting angle to retell the story from. Christopher Nolan remade Batman as a gritty vigilante who might exist in the real world. J.J Abrams remade Star Trek with a younger cast, fleshing out characters who got missed in the original series. Here, Power Rangers is looking for its fresh take after deciding to return. Everything new here is hiding the fact that this is the same old story with a fresh lick of paint. There aren’t too many surprises in store, especially when the troublesome kids quickly become goody-two-shoes, because the story needs to get them into some awesome armour. It doesn’t help the original material is just so camp, there is the painful sensation of the movie knocking itself back to square one, whenever some cries “mighty morphin’ time!” The past is just too leaden with cliché, the villains not threatening enough. A whole training segment builds up how strong Rita Repulsa’s minions are, only for when they show up in the movie, to be treated as CGI red shirts, disposable side bad guys, before Elizabeth Banks shows up. A giant gold monster is also a ropey excuse for a finale, the bigger means better tone of the TV show bleeding through into the reboot. At least, Elizabeth Banks’ Repulsa feels purposefully 90s and vaguely threatening. The beginning, middle and end of this film is annoyingly ‘okay’, bright enough to entertain the youngster, but nowhere near the remake you want it to be, even if you are a fan of the original show. There are some positive points along the way worth praising. The Blue Ranger is an autistic kid, who provides heart and an unique take on the character, often winning the most interesting moments. Another ranger is revealed to be thinking about same sex relationships in a beautifully understated moment. And Bryan Cranston, despite only being a CGI face in the wall, steals the show with an outstanding performance. Even with just his booming voice and the occasionally facial feature visible through his digitally animated visage, he adds depth only an actor of his calibre can.
Final Verdict: It earned our attention, but sadly interest is lost quite promptly. Cheesy fighting and vapid set-pieces; the Power Rangers haven’t evolved in their 20 year hibernation.