POWER RANGERS 2017 Morphs Into A Serviceable Movie
There's potential here

powerrangers

How do you turn a cheesy 90s kid show that often acted as an after school special into a movie in the year 2017? Power Rangers certainly doesn’t know. Instead, it tries to do a couple things at the same time, which holds the movie back from achieving true greatness. Instead, what we get is pretty mediocre.

It turns out Angel Grove is the home of a magical crystal that bad guys love to come after. Millions upon millions of years ago, the Power Rangers sacrificed their lives to protect that crystal. And now there are five delinquents who have found themselves drawn to the same place at the same time. They’re the new Power Rangers, and they have to learn to be Power Rangers in time to stop Rita Repulsa.

For the first two thirds, Power Rangers spends its time getting you to know these characters. Jason is a former star QB that’s hated by the town because he messed up their chances of being a high school football power house. Kimberly is a former cheerleader and popular girl who did something terrible and has been outcast. Billy is a nerd who doesn’t have a place. Trini is the new girl who’s battling with being in the closet and doesn’t like attachments. Zack has basically dropped out of school to take care of his sick mother.

Each of these kids has some interesting back story, and while the movie doesn’t fully explain them — it doesn’t have the time — these actors bring it. They bring more emotional heft and charisma that’s necessary, and what happens is a likable cast of characters that you like hanging out with. It’s hard to pick a single standout because they’re all so good and they’re all just going for it in every frame, but the heart of the film is RJ Cyler’s Billy. His joy is infectious.

All of this stuff is good, but it’s also where the movie stumbles. There’s a part in the film where the group is real down. They don’t think they’re cut out for this, and they’re having a hard time overcoming their big second act obstacle. The movie just hammers that home three times in three different ways. It’s like, we get it. We get it. You really don’t have to punch me in the face here, okay? I totally understand. By the third time, the movie has screeched to a halt.

And it sucks because everything leading up to that moment is great. There’s a wonderful training montage where see these kids bond and have fun, and we’re having fun, and then we get a hammer to the head over and over and over again. If the movie had found one other way to go about this stuff, it would be infinitely better off.

The other big thing is tonal issues. The movie swings in a whole new direction near the end. What was once a fairly angsty teenage drama turns into a cheesy, fist-pumping CG punch-fest. Now, the cheesy stuff is great. Power Rangers has the best product placement in a movie in a long while. It’s so well done that when executives tell filmmakers what products they’ve got to shove into their movies I hope they organically weave it in like this movie. It’s brilliant.

Other than that though, Power Rangers is pretty standard. There’s nothing here that’s outright bad. Everything is enjoyable, the characters and cast are all exceptional. Elizabeth Banks’ Rita Repulsa is broad, and she’s going full ham, but that’s fine. Bryan Cranston and Bill Hader supplement things well as Zordon and Alpha-5.

The pieces are here for a franchise, and luckily the pieces here are the things that are difficult to get right. You’ve got a great cast, you’ve got some good characters, you’ve got some interesting pieces in play for a sequel. Now you just have to find a lane, stick to it, and execute. Easier said than done, but Power Rangers is well on its way to something pretty damn good.

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