It may be a sad fact to many but the ’90s are officially nostalgic now, and if ever there was a much-loved show from that decade crying out for a cinematic reboot, it’s Power Rangers. Gone are the tight lycra suits, plastic helmets and ropey monster costumes as the Rangers return for 2017 with a $100 million budget, more-than-decent CGI and Bryan Cranston’s blocky, blue head.
Director Dean Israelite and writer John Gatins’ reworking aims to find that tricky balance between campy, fan-pleasing nostalgia and reaching a new, modern young adult audience expecting something darker and grittier. One subplot involving revenge porn does, however, jar a little against the generally lighter tone. Power Rangers pitches itself squarely as a “superhero” movie (the word itself must be uttered half a dozen times) and hews closer to the bright colours and humour of Marvel than the brooding seriousness of DC.
The Rangers themselves are a suitably ragtag bunch, with much of the plot devoted to their developing friendship and teamwork – but it’s autistic Blue Ranger Billy (R.J. Cyler) who is by far the most engaging, and his condition avoids straying into cliché or caricature. More disappointing is the handling of widely-reported “first gay superhero” Trini, the Yellow Ranger (Becky G), whose reveal is ambiguous at best and cowardly at worst. The film takes its time to finally get our heroes morphin’ into the Rangers, three quarters of the way in, but it does feel earned for the characters.
A worthy effort at updating a ’90s cult classic, Power Rangers subtly mixes up some of the character stereotypes and offers an enjoyably action-packed ride. The climax will be achingly obvious to anyone who’s seen the TV show, but it’s fun – and Elizabeth Banks clearly has a great time as the evil Rita Repulsa.
CAST: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, R.J. Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston
DIRECTOR: Dean Israelite
WRITER: John Gatins
SYNOPSIS: Five ordinary teens must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove – and the world – is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat.