Sunday, March 26, 2017

Movie Review: Power Rangers

Updated and rebooted, the Power Rangers return to the big screen with some solid actors and a new set of teens to play the colorful superheroes. Following the general premise of the original show yet slightly askew, Jason (Dacre Montgomery) was a star football player who is injured in a car accident after pulling a prank and running from the police. Sent to detention, he meets Billy (RJ Cyler), an intelligent savant who pursues the mining hobby of his deceased father and Kimberly (Naomi Scott), a trouble popular girl. Convincing Jason to help him, Billy heads to a nearby mine to blow up an area he believes hides something special. Jason tries to ditch him but runs into Kimberly and they run back after hearing Billy's explosion. 

Also watching from a distance is Zack (Ludi Lin) who takes care of his young mother in a nearby trailer park and Trini (Becky G.), a loner who practices yoga amidst the rocks. The five teenagers discover colorful rocks and flee the mine security only to all crash in Billy's minivan with a train. They wake up not knowing what happened with incredible strength. Meanwhile, a fishing vessel picks up a corpse that comes alive to reveal the nefarious Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks). She is on a quest to gather as much gold to build her super soldier Goldar. 

The teenagers return to the mine and discover an underwater lair where Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) has been waiting for millions of years with his master Zordon (Bryan Cranston), an ex-Ranger who was defeated by Repulsa long ago. The group is put through training as they work to morph into their armor and learn martial arts to prepare for Rita's putty army. The film moves at a brisk enough pace not to fall too deeply into the repeat of an origin story and the chemistry of the cast members and their own stories fills up the slower parts a little better before the third act of special effects.

The acting is nothing special from the main group though RJ Cyler sticks out as the comic relief. Cranston and Banks bring some class to the mentor and villain roles, making this film dodge what could have been a total disaster. The one-liners are a bit silly once the action starts but this is classic Power Rangers action so it fits in with the goofy names and colorful heroes. The story briefly touches on issues that concern teenagers but never treats these with much importance just using them to move the plot along towards the climactic battle. The special effects were an upgrade from the old days but dim in comparison to other blockbuster films.

Power Rangers looks like it has kicked off another successful franchise that might stick around for a sequel or two if it can continue to capitalize on the nostalgia and positive buzz. The reviews aren't overwhelmingly positive but a nice over $40 million weekend should start talks of a follow-up film and already sparked a debate about casting the Green Ranger. I'm fine seeing an old childhood favorite rebooted and spotted members of the old cast in the crowd near the end so it covered that area for me while providing something new for a new generation. 

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