My inner twelve-year-old and a slew of positive reviews convinced me to spend two hours of my life on the new Power Rangers movie. I didn’t expect much. I got even less.
Normally with these sorts of movies I expect the main event—the fighting robots, the giant monsters—to make sitting through all the dumb people parts excusable. It’s a trade off. With Power Rangers, however, the payout was so slim as to be basically nonexistent. The Rangers didn’t get into their armor until there was maybe 25 minutes left, and after a dull fight with a bunch of poorly-designed putties they fired up their ugly ass zords for a flat out boring battle with Rita and the giant Goldar. Like Rachel Maddow with supposedly important tax returns, it was a lot of build with no big climax.
And it was ugly. Like, bowling shoe ugly. That sort of organic-ish alien technology hasn’t looked good since Obama’s first term and even then it was pretty hit-or-miss. The Megazord in particular is embarrassingly 2010s.
The movie’s main problem, really, is the number of origin stories it needs to tell. Each of the five Rangers gets a turn, plus Zordon and Rita. These mostly work (especially the Black Ranger’s), except for the one that gets the most screen time. Jason, the Red Ranger, is a successful high school quarterback and a great dude with a bright future who inexplicably decides to pull a prank which gets him booted from the team and strapped with a transponder bracelet. When given the chance to explain, he drops a cliche “YOU’LL NEVER UNDERSTAND ME, DAD!” So yeah. I don’t know. I don’t think the writers did either.
Power Rangers also suffers from that epidemic of uber-seriousness infecting modern Hollywood blockbusters. Like most things I enjoy, the source material is campy, silly, and usually kind of stupid. This iteration is none of those things, and its few attempts to insert levity mostly feel out of place amidst all the emo doom and gloom.
Now, that said, there’s potential here for future episodes in the series to be much better. The origin stories are all told and the world is set. Elizabeth Banks’s turn as Rita Repulsa takes her work as Effie Trinket to a whole new level of insane. And, in spite of the movie’s issues, I did find myself starting to root for the Rangers as people as they slowly gelled into a team. Could be the next few movies invert my usual trade off formula and make the science fiction action the price of keeping up with the story.
So although I can’t recommend Power Rangers, I’m looking forward to the inevitable sequels. I think those will be pretty good.