Reboot culture is something that has completely permeated the film scene. Once you hear the average person complaining that there’s no originality in Hollywood, you know that it has become completely obvious. However, that doesn’t mean that all remakes (or reboots, or sideways sequels, or whatever term applies best) are bad films. “Mad Max: Fury Road,” a film that netted many Academy Awards and the hearts of many critics (this one included) is of course the sort of tentpole film to hold up the idea that reboots and late-in-life sequels aren’t all bad. And so I went into “Power Rangers” with an open mind hoping that it would combine the great recent teen movies that I love like “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” with that old tokusatsu-style japanese filmmaking that can be enjoyed, despite being cheesy in the original “Power Rangers” television series.
I was, unfortunately, disappointed, but not to the extreme I had feared. The film’s main character Jason Scott is a football star that is thrown in detention for the rest of the year after a prank gone wrong. There he meets Kimberly Hart, a former cheerleader cast out of her friend group, and Billy Cranston, an autistic savant subjected to a fair amount of bullying. Billy and Jason become friends, even exploring a gravel pit that Billy used to go to with his late father. There they meet Trini and Zack, and eventually discover the coins that give them their super-powers, leading them to become the Power Rangers. From then on there’s training and the big final battle, along with some drama between the Rangers, but the film is fairly paint by numbers, and it’s easy to see where it’s going.
What’s strange about the movie is that are moments of interest, but they never go far enough with them. In a key scene, Trini reveals, to some extent, that she is gay but the film leaves that alone and doesn’t really pursue it further. Billy, while perhaps being the first autistic superhero we’ve seen on the big screen, is still stereotyped as the autistic savant, socially awkward but technically genius. And although I do think his interactions with the other Rangers are handled well, he does fall into the trappings of having such a character. The greatest failing of “Power Rangers” is certainly in its embracement of stereotypes. Elizabeth Banks portrays the villain of the film, Rita Repulsa, and while she does do a great job playing this character, there is plenty of cliché in her mannerisms and actions.
Like I said, there are moments of, not greatness, but near greatness here. The action doesn’t have too many quick cuts or darkly lit scenes, but there is some enjoyment in seeing the Zords come out full force in the finale. It’s well acted, both by the fresh talent of the five teenagers and veteran actors. The remaining cast includes Bill Hader as Alpha-Five, the Rangers android assistant, and Bryan Cranston as Zordon.
If you have a child or younger sibling that is invested in the Power Rangers, as so many are, they’ll certainly have a great time in this film. At the end of the day, I guess that is what a Power Rangers film is for, but there are strange moments that are clearly aimed at the adult fan, most of which fall flat at the expense of the film.
Power Rangers: 2/5 Cigars