Hmm, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers have finally gone Hollywood. Admittedly, I was never a fan - its popularity in America was at a time when I outgrew such child-centric shows. Besides, my loyalties skewed towards Voltron (a property definitely inspired the Rangers), which recently enjoyed its own reboot on Netflix. Now repurposed as Saban’s Power Rangers, director Dean Israelite borrowed from The Breakfast Club and Chronicle to produce an origin story that’s more enjoyable than I anticipated.

Based on a script written by Oscar-nominated John Gatins (Flight), Power Rangers went through many drafts (and involved many previous writers) before the production finally settled on what made the final cut. With that in mind, this could easily be seen as a troubled production, especially since Lionsgate talked about producing as many as five or six sequels. Regardless, the $100 million production attracted the likes of Bryan Cranston (who is more digitized than real) and Elizabeth Banks (chewing up all the scenery in all her over-the-top glory), albeit in supporting roles.

Power Rangers revolves around five teenagers – Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly Hart (Naomi Scott), Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), Trini Kwan (Becky G) and Zack Taylor (Ludi Lin). They are all strangers to each other but are more alike than they may think. Outsiders in their own right, they feel no one understands them and they definitely want to get out of Angel Grove, the small town they live in.

Almost by chance, the five teens meet at a quarry and accidentally discover the Power Coins and a spaceship manned by a robot named Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader). The spaceship also stores the consciousness of Zordon (Cranston) a former power ranger who had to hide the Power Coins when another ranger, Rita Repulsa (Banks), betrayed the last group of power rangers (whom Zordon led) and tried to take all the coins for herself.

Zordon and Alpha 5 train the teens in becoming a new team of Power Rangers because Rita has awakened from a long hibernation and looks to continue her quest for power. The problem is, though, Jason, Kim, Billy, Trini and Zack cannot morph, and it has to do with the lack of trust they have towards each other. Regardless, they need to figure things out quickly because Rita is growing stronger by the minute and someone needs to stop her before she controls the planet.

The lack of trust within the group is exactly what opened the door for the Breakfast Club-like feel. That vibe was there from the start, since three of the teens met in detention; and it continued when the group shared many of their secrets during a campout (I’m still scratching my head about how none of the parents went out looking for their children). But in order to become a team and, more importantly, in order to defeat evident evil, they had to rely on and trust each other, and establishing that bond was important. It’s also important for the film’s growth – over two-thirds of Power Rangers is exposition. And because of that focus the camp of the 90’s television series is (thankfully) missing.

That being said, if you’re going into Power Rangers looking for action from the get-go, you’re going to have to wait (and it may be a long one with its 124-minute running time). With all of the character-building, the action is deferred to the conclusion. And the action, for the most part, is typical. The good thing, though, is that the action is easier to follow than anything in Michael Bay’s Transformers, but the special effects looked a little cheap and the stakes didn’t come off as dire as in other save the word films. In all, the action is serviceable but it’s not as impressive as its exposition.

Overall, Power Rangers is entertaining. It’s not as action-packed as I think it should be, but I’ll gladly take good (and necessary) exposition any day. Besides, with sequels eminent the action will likely overflow now that we know and understand Jason, Kim, Billy, Trini and Zack, their backgrounds and their motivations. Despite my reservations, Lionsgate did this budding franchise right, and I look forward to further adventures.

3 stars out of 5


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