Will resurrecting a hit 90s children's television franchise be the big blockbuster hit to challenge the likes of Marvel and DC? The answer was always going to be no, but perhaps it could stand up it in its own right as a worthy entry to the superhero genre.
Millions of years following the death of a previous team of Power Rangers defeating the evil forces of former Green Ranger, Rita Repulsa, five teens (each with their own unique set of angst and relevant modern struggles) discover the powers of the old team and that they will be vital in defeating the evil forces of Rita once more.
The film is essentially a long origin story of the Power Rangers and is tonally unsure of itself. The film shifts consistently between gritty teen drama and silly cartoon superhero-frolics. The characters are so angsty that they could give the cast of Skins a run for their money. There is also a progressive and liberal edge to proceedings: the majority of the rangers are of an ethnic minority, one is autistic and one is LGBT. These don't feel especially issue-led either and yet their inclusion of groups not often seen in multiplex-superhero-fodder is certainly vital and important, particularly in the times of Brexit and Donald Trump.
All the newcomers in the lead roles are strong enough to work as a solid group of teenage comrades, however, the material they get is clichéd and shallow; but then again perhaps that is what is needed to reach younger viewers. The film is most successful at making the big five likeable and sympathetic for younger audiences and that at least makes it worth investing in. If there is any criticism in this then perhaps we spend TOO much time with the kids as teens that when they finally become Power Rangers it feels short-lived. Bryan Cranston has little to do as ancient Ranger and hologram-mentor Zordon, even he can't elevate some of the truly diabolical lines he comes out with. Meanwhile, Bill Hader is forgettable as the voice of the poorly-designed and zany droid Alpha 5, but Elizabeth Banks is almost certainly having a ball as all out cheese-fest Rita Repulsa, an emerald witchy villainess whose backstory is so one-dimensional and half-baked that all we are left with is Banks' seriously fun pantomime acting.
The story is simple good versus evil fodder. There is no conflict beyond this and a need for teamwork, and in that sense there is nothing revolutionary. Some slices of humour work well but others fall horrifically flat - no different to your average Marvel Cinematic Universe film in that regard. This is perfect entertainment for children to enjoy though, and it teaches some nice values too. There are certainly The Breakfast Club references here about valuing all kinds of people from all walks of life, and that should be commended. If the audience is kept in mind that should make the film much more successful, however, most adults watching will struggle to find much to enjoy. There are some slight nostalgic nods for anyone who enjoyed the show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, or those who will enjoy some, surprisingly, graphic jokes thrown into the mix quite early on. The story builds on the teen angst and comedy to the CGI action-fest typical of the genre, but still remains loyal to the formula of the original series - big robots, big villains, big explosions.
Despite all the predictability including one particularly hilariously silly moment (not sure if intended or not) featuring Kanye West's 'Power' booming out as the Rangers take on Rita's monster, Goldar, outside a Krispy Kreme™ - yes you read that correctly. Perhaps Power Rangers is destined for cult status after all.