Undoubtedly, superheroes are pop culture’s order of the day. Everywhere you look — TV, film, theatre, literature — it is a literal mosaic of superhero stories and tales of superpowers turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.
It’s easy to dismiss Power Rangers, then, as another player on this long conveyor belt of clones. To boot, it’s a remake of a popular ’90s TV series, and it was already made into a movie back in 1995. There have been countless examples of remakes gone wrong, especially when the source material is dated, cheesy and niche.
Weirdly, it’s those very qualities that make director Dean Israelite’s Power Rangers great. There’s not a lot to the film’s story, but in the end it doesn’t matter. Fans of the series know what to expect: a group of outcast teens discovers differently coloured alien “coins,” they realize they have powers and become determined to band together and save the planet against an otherworldly foe.
That sounds like every other superhero movie.
It does, there’s no denying that. But what Power Rangers has that others don’t is a gigantic fan base, a group of people who rushed home after school to catch the latest episode. These fans know what the Power Rangers (or the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers as they were known then) are all about, and even though the plot can be hackneyed and over-the-top cheesy, and even if the dialogue is wooden and cliché or the acting is laughable (unfortunately, this is true in some cases), all is forgiven. It’s almost as if being awash in nostalgia nullifies all of the movie’s faults.
Nostalgia, you say?
Oh yes, and plenty of it. Even part-time fans of the franchise will find themselves laughing and hooting along with the rest of the audience (if you get a good crowd). People most likely to see Power Rangers will be fans already, or at least knowledgeable about the basic history of the Rangers, so you will be in enjoyable company. From the original Power Rangers song to the first incidence of “morphing” (which they really make you wait for!), it’s a trip back in time to your childhood or teen years.
But what if that’s not enough to make me enjoy it?
If an abundance of references put specifically in the film for fans doesn’t entice you, then perhaps other aspects will. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Malcolm in the Middle) stars as Zordon, the “leader” of the Rangers, and just hearing his voice is a pleasure. Elizabeth Banks stands out as supervillain Rita Repulsa, and the actress chews the scenery in the most delicious way. She is necessary to the film, and brings an unexpected comedy to the proceedings by being an alien on a human planet (think of the humour in Zod, Ursa and Non visiting Earth in Superman II, if you’re old enough).
Can my kids see this movie?
Aside from the weird, inappropriate joke that opens the film (which your kids won’t “get” anyway, so don’t worry), this movie is strictly PG-13. No sex, no blood, no excessive violence. Kids will absolutely love the film’s simplicity, and it’s undoubtedly one of the reasons Power Rangers is so popular throughout the generations: it is innocuous, something we can all identify with, and unapologetic in its inoffensiveness. In not taking itself seriously at all, it’s fun.
What about the Rangers themselves?
All relatively unknown, each of the actors — Dacre Montgomery (Jason/Red Ranger), Naomi Scott (Kimberly/Pink Ranger), Chinese-Canadian actor Ludi Lin (Zack/Black Ranger), RJ Cyler (Billy/Blue Ranger) and Becky G. (Trini/Yellow Ranger) — goes full-bore. Sure, there are some cringe-worthy sequences in the movie, and yep, sometimes their actions are totally unbelievable, but anybody who’s seen an episode of Power Rangers knows we’re not watching this for its Oscar-worthy performances. It’s about morphin’, dammit.
So what’s the bottom line?
Fans of Power Rangers will not be disappointed. With luck, you’ll be in a theatre packed to the gills with other fans, whose passion for the series is contagious. Even if you don’t know a thing about the Rangers, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. While we’re not under any illusions that the movie will go on to win any awards, it just might make you go home and rummage through the garage for your Power Rangers toys.