Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, language, and for some crude humor
Screenplay by John Gatins, story by Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney. Based on "Power Rangers" created by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy
Directed by Dean Israelite
Starring Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G., Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston, Bill Hader and more
Grade: Three and a half stars
I never thought I’d fall in love with the Power Rangers again.
Various incarnations of the “Power Rangers” TV series is a big part of many people’s younger years – I was a fan of the original show when I was 13 or 14 – but many of them haven’t aged very well. When I heard there was a new movie coming out, I assumed the best I could hope for was a nostalgic trip back to my early years aimed solely at fans of one of the 65 or so different versions of the TV series.
Instead, I got emotional about “Power Rangers” for the first time since I was 14 years old. I had the chance to enjoy one of the most hilarious, refreshingly modern takes on the “teens stumble into becoming super heroes trope” that I’ve ever seen, casting diversity treated like it was no big deal, some heartrending moments, fight scenes that evoked the old show but managed to be a thousand times more impressive, great character interaction and a movie that was genuinely a lot of fun to watch.
“Saban’s Power Rangers” takes everything good about the original series and modernizes it while still keeping the original spirit. As a result, it makes it a thousand times better.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the original show, “Power Rangers” follows a group of five kids as they stumble across an alien ship and are told they have to defend the earth from the evil Rita Repulsa. Unlike the original “Power Rangers” series, however – the one they base the movie on – the kids here are more than just high school stereotypes. “Smart” ranger Billy is on the autistic spectrum and has the tendency to blow things up, while team leader Jason is wrestling with destroying his football career due to a stupid prank.
They meet in detention, a la “The Breakfast Club,” but the relationship between the five Rangers unfolds organically beyond the confines of their after-school suspension. Their friendships aren’t rushed, and the five of them learning to truly trust and care about each other serves as the heart of the movie. At some points, it may actually break your heart a little bit.
Luckily, the movie is also really funny. It offers my favorite take on teen superheroes of all time – when they stumble into a spaceship that actually talks to them, their first instinct is to immediately run. They actually try to do this for like 10 minutes, signaling to each other to escape at the first opportunity, and when the big face in the wall says it’s their job to save the world their first response is “yeah, right.” If someone ever tried to tell me I was suddenly a superhero, this is absolutely how I would react.
Elizabeth Banks Rita Repulsa and Bryan Cranston’s Zordon are both believable updates on the characters from the TV show, and everything from the costumes to the Megazord get a desperately needed visual upgrade. During the final battle, however, I cheered on the Power Rangers just like I did when I was 13.
I, for one, really hope there’s a sequel.