Director: Dean Israelite (Project Almanac)
Producers: Haim Saban (Power Rangers creator), Brian Casentini (Power Rangers TV series), Wyck Godfrey, and Marty Bowen (The Twilight Saga, The Fault in Our Stars, The Maze Runner franchise)
Executive Producers: Allison Shearmur, Brent O’Connor, John Gatins, Joel Andryc, Takeyuki Suzuki
Screenplay: John Gatins (Kong: Skull Island)
Story by: Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless (Dracula Untold) and Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney (based upon Power Rangers created by Haim Saban)
Starring: Dacre Montgomery (Jason Red Ranger), Naomi Scott (Kimberly Pink Ranger), RJ Cyler (Billy Blue Ranger), Becky G (Trini Yellow Ranger), Ludi Lin (Zack Black Ranger), featuring Bill Hader (Alpha 5 cyborg), with Bryan Cranston (Zordon) and Elizabeth Banks.
Having never seen an episode of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series (1993), loosely based on the Japanese 1970s Super Sentai TV series, I had no preconceptions or even expectations about the latest incarnation, Saban’s Power Rangers.
From the brief snippets I had seen, I knew there were energetic people who dressed in colour-coded costumes and leapt about doing heroic things, but that was the extent of my knowledge. So I was pleasantly surprised to find the new Power Rangers film entertaining, humorous, with effective use of the latest in spfx technology, and awesome Ranger suits designed by Weta Workshop.
The action is set in the small American fishing town of Angel Grove, and focuses on five teenagers, each with their own particular problems, who stumble upon an ancient, alien spacecraft and five coloured “coins” which bestow upon each of them extraordinary power and the ability to morph into Power Rangers, as they face a world-wide threat from an evil alien.
Television producer Haim Saban, who produced the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series, wanted the updated cinematic version to retain the original’s idea of five teens with attitude who must battle evil whilst also dealing with “today’s issues of cyber-bullying, peer or family pressure and the uncertain future.”
I appreciated that sufficient time was spent to develop each Ranger’s backstory so that they all emerged as clearly defined individuals rather than anonymous teenagers, one with a “spectrum” disorder, another dealing with their sexuality and another with a sick parent.
For established fans of the series, the carefully plotted introductions of each teenager may drag, but I appreciated how their trust issues and self-imposed isolation made it difficult for them to quickly achieve the required togetherness necessary to become a team of Power Rangers.
The fact that they trained, fought and had their own individual problems to overcome before they could become a united fighting team made their eventual transformation feel more “earned” than if it had occurred within a shorter time frame.
Other supernatural hero films often lavish huge chunks of screen time on drawn-out action sequences where entire cities get obliterated in mind-numbing CGI effects extravaganzas, and
I find those types of films to be boring and non-engaging.
The battle sequences in Power Rangers still occur, but because they don’t happen until the last section of the film they seem more effective.
There is one rather large plot loop-hole involving the Power Rangers and their evil opponent Rita Repulsa (played with relish by The Hunger Games’ Elizabeth Banks in a gorgeously over-the-top green and gold costume), which would have ended the battle very quickly and with far less destruction, but aside from this, the story line and character arcs were all well written and believable within this specific world.
The fact that there was no swearing was a big plus in this age of profanities, which makes this a great family-friendly film, which won’t disappoint anyone seeking an entertaining and well-made diversion. (The version of the song “Stand by me” used during one scene made me want to dash out and buy the soundtrack.)