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Review: “Power Rangers” goes darker and more intense, losing some of the fun in the process

Review: “Power Rangers” goes darker and more intense, losing some of the fun in the process

Childhood nostalgia hit an all-time high this past weekend as a modern retelling of a classic childhood favorite hit the big screen. Everyone’s favorite team of teenage superheroes arrived in the form of “Power Rangers.”

The Rangers have returned as never seen before, and have received the 21st-century treatment, for better and for worse.

When high school football star quarterback Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) runs into trouble with the law, he loses all hope of a college football scholarship and now must endure the misery of high school detention every single Saturday. He looks remarkably similar to Zac Efron though, so his life could never really turn out too badly.

While there, he makes an unlikely friend in super nerd Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler) and also befriends former cheerleader Kimberly Hart (Naomi Scott). When Jason and Billy take a trip up a mysterious mountain nearby, they run into Kimberly and also encounter two other teenagers.

While there, the five of them each find mysterious coins, each one a different color. Unbeknownst to our young group of teenage heroes, these coins actually hold the power of the Power Rangers. Now, the five of them must unite to stop an ancient evil from destroying the earth.

via GIPHY

With a PG-13 rating and lots of fairly intense action sequences, this is not the same “Power Rangers” we grew up watching on television. This movie feels darker, more intense and even more full of teenage angst if you can believe it.

It tries to reinvent Power Rangers for the new generation, but what used to feel like campy fun and a willingness not to take itself too seriously has turned more into a stereotypical let’s all go save the world action movie.

Also, I don’t even want to know how much money Krispy Kreme must have paid for the product placement it receives in this movie. Go see it and you will see what I mean.

This film tries to do for the Power Rangers mythos what Christopher Nolan did for the Batman universe, retelling the story in a darker, more intense way, but where Nolan undoubtedly succeeded, “Power Rangers” director Dean Israelite comes up short. Ultimately, “Power Rangers,” tells the story of teenagers in ridiculous costumes trying to save the world from even more ridiculous looking villains, a premise simply too silly and cartoonish at its basic core to ever really be taken as seriously as this new movie presents it.

The dialogue throughout the movie exposes a definite weak point. It’s “Power Rangers” so nobody expects any screenwriting awards, but some of the words spoken by these far-too-pretty-to-actually-be-relatable teenage kids sound just cringeworthy. The acting on the part of the Rangers will not win any awards, either. They get by, but just barely.

Two saving graces in the acting category for the movie come in the form of super villain Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) and giant head in a spaceship wall Zordon (Bryan Cranston). Banks’ haunting portrayal of Repulsa makes for probably the most intense villain in Ranger history. Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” and “Malcolm in the Middle” fame has yet to give a poor performance in his life, and he still succeeds here as Zordon, the Rangers’ mentor and former Ranger himself who has become a giant head trapped in a spaceship wall. One of the highlights of the movie comes in the form of Zordon’s existential crisis when he becomes filled with rage at his predicament and wants nothing more than to find a way out of the wall.

Overall, the movie should have tried to stay truer to the Power Ranger roots and strayed less into generic action blockbuster territory, but they do slip the old theme song in at one point, and Jason also does have his moment where he shouts “It’s morphin’ time!”

It may not seem like the best possible Power Rangers reboot, but it still gets the job done somehow and should more or less satisfy both long-time nostalgic fans and newcomers to the Ranger world.

Grade: C+


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