I want to begin this review with an apology – to all the movies in the past that I blasted for having extremely long set-ups. The reigning champ in this category was 2015’s “Fantastic Four” reboot, which was essentially “Fantastic Four Origins” with one action scene at the end. “Power Rangers” is structured exactly the same way, except this set-up is EVEN LONGER, covering just about the first hour and 20 minutes of the film’s two hour length.
And I was on board for a while, as we get to know the core five teens who will transform into superheroes and potential saviors of their small town. But one can only take so much build-up – scenes at school, at the mine where they discover the power coins, training to earn their colorful armor. When the talking robot with the Saturn head showed-up (and that’s only halfway through the set-up), they lost me.
The “Power Rangers” franchise has had a cult following for decades, starting with the 90s TV series that kids and older audiences embraced for being corny – in a very campy-entertaining way. This new movie is corny, but considering the big-budget special effects, the modern-day setting, and drawn-out story, I don’t think that’s what the filmmakers were going for. This is not a humorous homage to the 90s version (which might have worked) but rather a serious attempt to update and create a contemporary franchise.
20 years ago Bryan Cranston voiced some of the villains on the original TV series. Here he gets to play a character, Zordon, the former Red Ranger and mentor of this new clan. He’s actually only on camera in the opening scene. The rest of the time we’re simply treated to an animated Cranston – and his voice (but, hey, that’s progress!) Zordon provides the young Rangers with the info on their impending nemesis: Rita Repulsa (played by Elizabeth Banks). Banks’s over-the-top Effie in “The Hunger Games” movies was a tolerable character. Her work as Rita is so goofy it’s borderline unforgivable. This is another one of those cases when you actually feel sympathy for an actor.
While watching “Power Rangers” it was tough to keep my mind from wandering. There’s a reference to Bumblebee from the “Transformers” series (Man, I wish I this was a “Transformers” movie). One of the kids wonders if he’ll turn into either Iron Man or Superman (“Man, I wish this was an “Iron Man” movie). And Dacre Montgomery, who plays the new Red Ranger – looks like he could be Zac Efron’s cousin (“Man, I wish…wait – I didn’t go that far).
This film isn’t exactly a complete bore, but instead, more of a pure underachiever on every level, and a major letdown for diehard fans of the classic series. Instead of singing “Go-Go Power Rangers” (we only get the iconic theme music briefly during the single action scene), you’ll be saying “Oh-No Power Rangers” before this failed attempt mercifully comes to an end.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Power Rangers” gets a C-.
Running Time: 124 min.