When the teaser for Power Rangers came out, I was among those who felt it would be so bad. Like, there’s no way in hell this reboot is going to work. A lot of things were working against the film, and there will still be things that work against it, even as it starts screening in theaters.
That said, this review of Power Rangers will be largely spoiler free. But if you really don’t want to know anything about the film, now’s the time to look away.
Welcome to Angel Grove
It isn’t all that new. Director Dean Israelite was tasked to adapt the beloved show from the 90s and to update it into something that fits the world we live in now. His previous work, Project Almanac, was largely inventive and told its story though a single POV through the ‘found-footage’ film style. Most of that inventiveness is seen in the way he directs Power Rangers.
It’s still set in Angel Grove, though it’s way more town-like than it was in the original.
For the most part, the first act of the film feels like it takes itself too seriously. I can’t help but compare it to an older, but similarly toned film: Chronicle. The first act also riffs off The Breakfast Club, at least in the way that Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Billy (RJ Cyler), and Kimberly (Naomi Scott) are introduced. Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G.) don’t quite get the same kind of treatment as the first three, but it’s done so well that you might find yourself not minding as much.
The pacing of the film’s first act mimics the same way that Angel Grove appears to be a sleepy town. It’s not mind-numbingly slow, but it struggles to find its footing and there are a few excusable plot holes. It isn’t until the tail-end of the first act that things start to fall into place. When they do, that’s when things rev up.
In contrast, the second act is a fun romp. It’s almost as if, while they were writing for the film, the production team decided to screw the seriousness and just have a fun time with it and let it be as campy and absurd as the original show, or even crazier – like Super Sentai films.
So Much Attitude
The film delves into that tagline and does it well enough; encompassing the ways that teenagers feel like nobody understands them – and how nobody can. Like any other origin story – because make no mistake, it IS an origin story – the five seemingly interconnected teens are found at times of great upheavals in their lives. Emotions run high and they can barely explain themselves, so there’s a lot of nonverbal cues in the way each of them react to the situation at hand. There’s also a lot of back-talk, sarcasm, and sassing that feels just right.
The performance that stands out is Billy’s – or at least in the way the story winds around him throughout the film. It’s almost as if this version of Billy is a love letter, and an apology to the original Billy and actor David Yost. That focus leaves so much less for Zack and Trini, but their best scenes in the film are equally funny, frightening, and awesome.