There are some movies that are critiqued based on artistry and craft. These are your “films.” Then there are the movies that you know are made purely for entertainment. The popcorn flicks. These works aren’t meant to be judged on their cinematography or their symbolism. You go into these movies looking for a few simple things: you want a good story, and a fun time. That’s all that Saban’s Power Rangers really had to deliver on.
Unfortunately, the new Rangers movie seems to fall just shy of enjoyable. It has a lot of fun elements to it, but they never seem to come together in a cohesive way to make the movie “fun” as a whole.
First, let’s say that this movie didn’t exactly have a ton to live up to. The original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series was all about being campy and cheesy; it was dumb fun. This new take on the Rangers definitely pays homage to that. There’s plenty of camp and cheese to enjoy if that’s your thing. But the filmmakers also try to ground the story in some sense of realism. It’s not “dark and gritty” in a DC Extended Universe kind of way, but that’s still the tone it seems to be going for at times. The problem is that the camp and cheese doesn’t blend well with the realism and grit. It never fully commits one way or the other, and the final product comes out feeling a bit jarring and disjointed.
Saban’s Power Rangers ultimately isn’t a bad movie; instead it’s simply dull and uninteresting. The story has a ton of promise, but the audience will walk away unfulfilled when it’s over. None of the big moments feel earned, like when the Rangers finally suit up or when they have their first big Zord battle. These moments just kind of happen without inciting any kind of excitement or emotion in the viewer.
This problem might come down to the characters. They’re not compelling enough to root for. That’s not a slight against the actors either; their performances are fine. The characters themselves are simply not written in a way that makes you care about them. Instead they all feel like they’re being built up for a moment that never comes. And some of them end up making choices that are completely contradictory to things they said earlier in the film. Perhaps if the Rangers were fleshed out more instead of being caricatures of angsty teenagers, the story would have held more weight.
Now, with the general movie review out of the way, there are a few side items that need to be addressed…
The Breakfast Club Rant
Remember when the first Power Rangers trailer came out, and everyone was making the same, “oh they meet in detention; they’re like the Breakfast Club!” joke? Oh man, do the filmmakers lean into that element hard.
Detention is just the start. There are whole elements in this movie that seem ripped straight from The Breakfast Club. The football player who’s tired of living up to everyone else’s expectations of him. The nerd who’s only in detention because an explosion went off in his locker. The Rangers even have a conversation while sitting in a circle that boils down to “what will happen when this is all over? will we still be friends?”
I can’t say that these similarities ruined the movie, but they did feel weird. They probably would have felt more natural if the writers called attention to them and made them jokes within the story.
The Product Placement Rant
Big blockbuster popcorn flicks have product placement in them. There’s no escaping it. But the product placement in Power Rangers is some of the most in-your-face product placement that I’ve ever seen. And – humorously – it’s relevant enough to the plot that the details of it would constitute “spoilers.” Just know that you’re going to be craving some Krispy Kreme when you leave the theater.
The Bottom Line
Power Rangers is a movie you’ll watch once for the sake of nostalgia, and then forget about completely. It’s not flat-out bad; it’s just boring.