By Albert Hu,
It’s your standard teenage superhero movie formula: a partial alien backstory, a group of ragtag “special” teenagers who all happen to be together at the same time, and a sudden surge of superpowers that forever change the course of the world. Yet, there’s a reason why Hollywood keeps pumping out the same rebranded movie with slightly different superpowers—because it works.
“Power Rangers” is the PG-13 movie that everyone from your five-year-old nephew to your grandmother can see and enjoy, but for drastically different reasons.
The film features the heroic “Power Rangers” battling the powerful Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks), a classic superhero turned supervillain that is set on destroying the planet with the all-powerful Zeo Crystal, an object comedically placed within a Krispy Kreme donut shop. To defeat her, the heroes must bond together with their iconic colored armor and utilize powerful robotic dinosaurs—made even more ridiculous with their giant laser beams.
But what’s striking about “Power Rangers” is not the cliché plot; it’s the fact that even from the very beginning, the film doesn’t take itself seriously.
To start, Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery), also known as the “Red Ranger” is not your stereotypical star high school quarterback. From the get-go, he is arrested and placed under house arrest shortly after “milking” a male cow he believed was female — a subtle adult reference that left kids clueless while their parents let out a hearty chuckle.
It’s moments like this that make “Power Rangers” worth watching. For every absurd and barely intelligible fight scene in the movie, there are moments of comedic relief, either from one-liners delivered by Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), the autistic Blue Ranger or from actions that make you wonder if the protagonists are even remotely human.
However, the one spot where “Power Rangers” truly falls flat is in its allocation of time between its elements of cunning superhero combat and emotional teenage drama. The film attempts to make the viewer care about the individuality of each and every Power Ranger; from Trini Kwan (Rebbeca Gomez), the Yellow Ranger who questions the traditional sexual orientation her parent’s have forced upon her, to Zack Taylor (Ludi Lin), the bilingual Asian Black Ranger who has to care for his dying mother. By doing so, the film misses its crucial selling point: good old Power Ranger combat.
The film allocates almost an hour and a half to simply the teenagers and their story; shoving epic Power Ranger fighting into the background until the very end; leaving you rolling your eyes when suddenly for the fifth time a character has been found to be “different” in some way.
But, if you’re willing to bear the film’s poorly balanced characteristics and let out some laughter at the film’s absurdity, you’ll be singing “go go Power Rangers!” before you know it.