Power Rangers is a reboot of the 90s children’s TV show Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (1993) that follows a group of teenage superheroes tasked with defending the Earth from the evil alien Rita Repulsa and her horde of minions. For the most part, Power Rangers pays homage to its origin, which can be nostalgic for viewers of the original show. At the same time, Power Rangers is a reboot which alters elements of the show to “keep up with the times,” giving the Power Rangers and their universe new personalities, backstories, and designs.
Given that it’s based on a children’s TV show, the story is very straightforward. Teenagers get super powers, villain appears, teenagers fight villain, teenagers defeat villain. Albeit some slight variations from the original, the narrative is predictable, causing hardly any tension during the entirety of the movie. As an adult, knowing that the Power Rangers are going to become strong enough to somehow defeat the villain drains the movie from any suspense.
Despite its predictability, Power Rangers is—for the most part —an entertaining watch. At least for an hour. The first half of the movie presents the main characters’ backstories, how they get their powers, and how they train to become stronger. Seeing them bond with each other as well as train together was more entertaining than I expected, making the story better despite its linearity.
However, the story does fall flat with Rita Repulsa’s arrival. All the action scenes after Rita’s appearance (including the Megazord battle) became increasingly forgettable, leading to an unsatisfying and generic finale.
I have mixed feelings about the cast. Even though all of the Rangers fulfill their roles adequately, they occasionally feel like a dumbed-down version of The Breakfast Club. The red ranger Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) is the jock. The blue ranger Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler) is the nerd. The pink ranger Kimberly Hart (Naomi Scott) is the princess. The yellow ranger Trini (Becky G) is the quiet basket case. The only one of these characters that does not directly derive from these character archetypes is Zack (Ludi Lin), which happens to be notably distinctive from the rest of them. That doesn’t mean, however, that his acting doesn’t end up falling flat whenever he tries to become more than a lovable clown.
Bryan Cranston is convincing in the role of Zordon and is able to deliver another layer to the character’s personality. (Which is sadly ruined by a forced interaction). Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) is okay, but the character is only redeemed from being a forgettable mascot by the nostalgia value from the original TV show. Elizabeth Banks plays a straightforward evil villain role for Rita Repulsa. The role is well-acted for the most part, but the movie’s storyline does nothing to elevate her from a generic antagonist.
My main gripe with the cast is that it reduces its healthy number of characters to three. Jason, Kimberly, and Billy are the only characters who receive any proper attention. While Jason’s character is overexposed, others like Trini and Zack are underdeveloped. Kimberly’s exposition feels like its only purpose is to serve as a suitable love interest for Jason. Zack and Trini are devastatingly unknown to us, each having at most 90 seconds of exposition. Rita Repulsa ends up being evil for the sake of being evil and Zordon and Alpha 5 are no more than guides in the Rangers’ adventure. I’d say only Billy receives appropriate character development, mostly because he’s the only character offered enough screen time to achieve this.
Most of the film is plagued with unnecessary shaky cam segments that, rather than complement the action or the story, ultimately make the film harder to follow. The visual design of the movie borders on edgy and boring, reminiscent of subpar movie adaptations like Dragonball Evolution (2009) and The Last Airbender (2010). And while the movie’s score is appropriate for the most, the soundtrack often sounds misplaced.
While entertaining, Power Rangers feels more like a nostalgia trip. The film itself isn’t that good, but— nostalgia aside—the source material isn’t that great to begin with. Most of the flaws regarding storyline, predictability and character development, stem from the original show, making the movie’s faithfulness one of its flaws. Nonetheless, these weaknesses will probably not bother fans of the show looking for another adventure in Angel Grove as the movie undoubtedly belongs to the series. And again, it is enjoyable for the most part. Now, if you didn’t watch the show or weren’t a fan of it, there’s nothing for you here.
Should you watch this movie? No.