I’m not going to argue that “Power Rangers” isn’t a movie made by a committee. The action loving, kid in me, however, really enjoyed what “Power Rangers” had to offer. It really is a re-imagining of the “Mighty Morphin” era of “Power Rangers” but tackles every plot element and universe building idea with so much more finesse and logic. The reason why these Rangers control robotic dinosaurs makes sense. The reason why Alpha Five is so important makes sense. Zordon being so crucial to helping the Rangers makes so much sense. The diversity is so much more natural and fluid than the original TV series, where everything just felt tacked on for broader appeal. Best of all, the blue ranger finally gets his due in a movie where he is the heart and soul of the entire group.
Director Dean Israelite provides such beautiful and interesting direction, as “Power Rangers” is movie that is first and foremost about actual teenagers living in a world that’s been very rough on them. They’re five teenagers with big problems, and the town of Angel Grove is a pit of economic ruin and lower class denizens. The first character we meet is Jason Scott, a star football player thrust in to fame and sports stardom, a label and reputation he hates. What’s fascinating is that the writers undercut this cliché by indicating that Jason’s father is not just some overbearing past his prime athlete, but is working overtime to give Jason a football scholarship because he simply can’t afford to send him to college. After Jason gets in to a car wreck, he’s assigned to attend detention for the rest of the school year. While there, he meets the rest of the group that would become the Power Rangers, but takes a special liking toward Billy Cranston.
Billy is now an African American young man who is in the autism spectrum, and latches on to Jason as a friend when he defends Billy from an aggressive bully. Calculating the existence of an abandoned gold mine within Angel Grove’s mountains, Billy convinces Jason to help him excavate it, attracting the attention of other wayward classmates Kimberly, Trini, and Zack. While there, they discover the Power Coins, which grant them powers, and of course have to realize their destiny as Power Rangers. As they learn to harness their powers, Rita Repulsa re-emerges and is on the hunt for a mythical crystal that could grant her immense power. “Power Rangers” is a bit long in the tooth but has a good time building characters we can care about and empathize with.
By the time the group were riding their Zords and fighting Rita, I cared about their fates, and I wanted to see them ultimately bond and unite to bring down the vile witch once and for all. The best performances are by Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks, respectively, both of whom offer great turns as characters with their own stakes in this ensuing war. Banks has a great time being about as vicious and evil as possible, and even manages to reach Freddy Krueger territory as she begins taunting the fledgling Rangers by visiting them in their bedrooms, and nightmares. “Power Rangers” is a fresh and exciting reboot that succeeds in building engaging characters, and a new universe by re-conditioning a lot of the old elements from the “Mighty Morphin” era. Yes, there are a ton of iffy callbacks to the original show, as well as a goofy plot device involving Krispy Kreme donuts, but I forgave it in the end, simply because I was having too much fun to care.