Being as old as I currently am (which is to say, not young), I had unfortunately aged out of the demographic one probably should have occupied to have rode the wave of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers mania at its mid-1990s peak. Nonetheless, I can still recall these teenage superheroes having been everywhere, bolstered by the immense popularity of their eponymous television series and line of toys, all targeted at children younger than I was at the time. I can't help but feel that, were I born just a few years later than I had been, I might also have latched on to the world of Power Rangers bliss, one that revolved around five teenagers, plucked from their fairly average lives and equipped with identities/abilities matched to long-extinct animals, in the ongoing battle with the forces of evil. Villains took the form of such tastily-named baddies as Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa, faceless goons called Putties threatened the Rangers during most episodes, and each 30-minute long slugfest-mixed-with-high-school-dramatics usually ended with the group summoning giant robots so as to construct a massive Jaeger-esque machine in order to fight another similarly-sized Monster Of The Day. Tell me again, why exactly didn't I like this?
Despite my age, this didn't stop me from tuning in to witness the much-anticipated unveiling of the White Ranger, as well as promising my cousin Jimmy I would build for him a Green Ranger helmet he could wear to the inevitable excited cries of his jealous classmates. Don't worry cousin, I'll finish it one day.
Power Rangers comes on the heels of the classic show, several mid-to-late '90s theatrical releases and even an ultra-dark short film from a few years back which attempted to ground the characters in realism. Power Rangers seems to be taking a page from the latter, with a tone similar to 2012's Chronicle mixed with the show itself and a premise ever so slightly updated from the series. The five relative unknowns cast as the titular Rangers are all decent in the most average way possible, and as Rita Repulsa, the underrated Elizabeth Banks plays her to the campiest extent one can imagine, a method that works in ways I can't describe. She's silly, frightening, and overall representative of an actress completely committing to a role. The great Bryan Cranston, who early in his career voiced several monsters on the show, returns to the franchise as Zordon, the Rangers' enigmatic advisor, and Bill Hader voices Alpha 5, Zordon's assistant. Cranston, ever the outstanding talent that he is, plays Zordon with the greatest of ease, while Hader, who seems to have carved out a unique sub-career as a voice actor, is actually a perfect Alpha 5, the film's comic relief, even if the special effects used to bring Alpha 5 to life are fairly average at best.
Aside from Alpha 5, most of the remaining effects look good, and when the film shifts from origin story to the inevitable climactic battle scenes, the atmosphere shifts from somewhat dark to, essentially, a 2017 version of the show. I could complain about the cheesiness present periodically throughout-the campfire scene, in particular, is a great example of this-but when the movie is viewed in the context of the original series, any cheese can be easily forgiven. The score, composed by Brian Tyler, moves the film forward, though the dialogue does get a bit buried from time to time under Tyler's music-then again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. This ain't Shakespeare, folks. However, when the infamous theme song kicks in at just the right moment, the audience I was with absolutely reacted with joy, and I myself couldn't help but smile. Somehow, it works.
Overall, shortcomings in the screenplay, effects, acting or director Dean Israelite (2015's simiarily-themed found-footage bomb Project Almanac) shouldn't be hard to ignore-Power Rangers is great fun, a film one shouldn't think about for a second and one which should absolutely appeal to every adult who once clutched their favorite Ranger doll while curled up on their couch after school to tune in to the latest adventures from their favorite teenage superhero squad. Even though I never had this experience, in watching this film I felt like I had, another reminder that my childhood is never far away and that films like this serve as the perfect reminder of simpler days gone by. With plans for multiple sequels in the works, I find myself strangely excited for the next installment, one which should follow the same format as its predecessor if it wants to achieve the same level of nostalgia while setting up what could be a successful continuation of a beloved franchise.
Bring it on!