Like Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings, Power Rangers has a lot to live up to.
The movie is based on Fox’s kids show from the ‘90s, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and although it’s not the cultural zeitgeist it used to be, the franchise maintains a legion of loyal fans. It’s tough adapting a property; trying to create something new while honoring the original, and director Dean Israelite doesn’t quite find a way to balance the two.
Power Rangers isn’t a bad movie, but it is confused. It finds its strength in the main cast, but Israelite doesn’t know what kind of movie he wants to make. Is it a retelling of the story known so well from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? Is it an origin story? Is it an homage to the corny, but beloved ninjas that populated TV screens for years?
The only thing that makes Power Rangers worth watching and keeps it going from beginning to end is the cast. All five main Rangers are played by relatively fresh newcomers to the scene, and there’s an enthusiasm for what they’re doing that is contagious. Their general sense of curiosity and willingness to treat the world as seriously as they can manages to make the movie feel campier, ironically, but that’s what was at the heart of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Special attention should also be given to Elizabeth Banks. Banks’ portrayal of Repulsa is interesting, to say the least, but she manages to bring a life to the character that fans will appreciate.
Despite strong performances from the entire cast, it’s not enough to save the movie from its own insecurities. There’s no reason that certain aspects of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers have to be included, but just like taxes and death, it’s inevitable that they appear throughout the film.
Fan pandering is almost expected — especially in this era of comic book movie adaptations — but what Power Rangers does goes beyond that. Without getting into specifics as a way to avoid spoilers, the amount of eye rolling that I did in the theater is almost unmatched compared to every other movie I’ve seen this year.
It could have been a dumb, ridiculous movie in the same vein as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers or an origin story like Iron Man, but it ends up being none of those things.
Worth Seeing?: No