In 2015, a gritty violent short film launched online called Power/Rangers. While it turned out to be an unauthorised fan film by Joseph Khan, it received praise from fans and former cast members of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. There was also talks of an official cinematic reboot that teased a darker tone.
Power Rangers isn’t the R-rated dystopian nightmare that older fans may have craved but neither is it a candy coloured treat aimed at children. With teenage coming of age themes, it appears to be targeting The Hunger Games demographic and tonally there are similarities. This direction t franchise takes adds to its problems.he
Whereas the original characters were oh so perfect in their own way, our modern heroes are flawed. They’re arrogant, mean and questioning their sexuality. Brought together by an ancient alien called Zordon (Bryan Cranston) five teenagers are tasked with saving the world from the evil Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks). Before they can unlock their power and fulfil their destiny they need to find a way to open up their feelings to each other and bond.
It’s a different take for the Power Rangers that shows us imperfect (although still good looking and cool) individuals. Although the original cast promoted diversity, this time the boat is pushed out further to included sexuality, slut shaming and autism. The characters are interesting before they’ve suited up with a human element imbued upon the heroes. They make very human and immature mistakes, it’s relatable.
As commendable as that is the film spends way too long on their training and their time as Power Rangers takes an age to come and is rushed as a result. The action is enjoyable but regrettably brief as the standard morphin, monster battle and Megazord scenes are crammed into the final act. It’s reminiscent of the recent Fantastic Four film in many regards.
The main cast are amiable enough to get a pass and do their best with the material provided. Some of which is laughable which could easily be excused if this was a straight up kids film or if the film was able to laugh at itself. Unfortunately the film plays it straight faced for so long that even when the popular theme song kicks in it mashes with the tone that director Dean Israelite has set.
Banks hams it up wonderfully as Rita, overacting each movement and delivering each line with an alluring absurdity. The murderous traits of her villain however do little to add any levity to the movie.
Power Rangers is a decent enough film but it doesn’t know where it wants to sit on the spectrum. It takes more risks with its predecessor but ensures that there’s a safety net should they fall too far. Too dark for young kids, it fails to offer any nostalgia for older fans. It’s not a bad movie but it is pretty bland. If the sequel is greenlit with the mid-credit stinger setting up a predictable but welcome teaser, hopefully they can overcome the difficult origin story to deliver a mighty followup.