Power Rangers *

by D.R. Huffman

“Power Rangers” is a soulless paint-by-numbers job that attempts to evoke far better teen films. 

Is it worth $10? No 

The latest “Power Rangers” product tries to revive the aging, silly franchise by stripping away what made it so beloved. In it, we follow a group of high school teens as they discover they have been chosen as the next in line to save the galaxy by forming the latest iteration of the super-powered group. In order to fully utilize their powers, they must get in touch with themselves and each other. Longtime fans of this property will likely enjoy this slapdash, lazy cash-in (which will likely become its own franchise), while those who care considerably less will find considerably less to love.

The actors here all perform acceptably, and each seems to have fun with their roles. While the teens are serviceable, the clear standouts are Bryan Cranston as Cordon and Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa. Cranston is reduced to what is essentially a voice-acting gig, and Banks hams it up while also managing to come across as pretty freaky and scary in her early scenes.

“Power Rangers” is basically a poorly designed and executed hybrid of “Chronicle” (2012) and “Transformers” (2007). It follows the well-worn path of most teen films that aim to draw in the high school crowd, adapting many clichés and plot lines that have been seen countless times before. It does deserve some credit, though, for including a person on the autism spectrum and a lesbian in its group of stars.

“Power Rangers” is poorly paced and scripted, and feels rushed. It also includes one of the worst advertisements for a product I’ve seen in film. It actually plays a significant role in the plot. The film itself is poorly and confusingly shot as well, as in the opening car chase scene, where storytelling perspective gets lost in the action.

One of the big draws of the original TV series and films was the fight scenes, which were all done by stuntmen and costumed actors. Unfortunately, this reboot chooses to take the easy route and fashion all the fight scenes using CGI characters and effects that lack weight and realism. This sucks out all the excitement and thrills from these scenes. Not to mention that for a sci-fi/ action/ adventure movie there aren’t many action set-pieces until the last twenty or so minutes of the film. (Heck, they don’t even suit up until well into the third act.)

The new “Power Rangers” definitely has plenty of swagger and braggadocio (it even goes so far as to destroy Bumblebee from “Transformers” [2007] in one scene), but it can’t back any of it up. The film is a bland, soulless, paint-by-numbers job that attempts to entertain by copying and evoking far better and more entertaining films.

It also runs an agonizing two hours long. It drags… and drags… and then drags some more. There is no excuse for a Power Rangers film to be of such epic length. It was clearly made by studio execs, and follows Hollywood’s new/old trend of rebooting/remaking/adapting and cashing in on familiar or beloved properties. The best advice if you’re prone to consider “Power Rangers” is this: Don’t “Go Go.”

D.R. Huffman covers new fare with an emphasis on horror and thrillers for Punch Drunk Movies. “The DR is in.”

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