Magazine article Screen International

'Power Rangers': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Power Rangers': Review

Article excerpt

With Elizabeth Banks stealing the show, Lionsgate's goofy Power Rangers recycles superhero blockbusters of the past

Dir: Dean Israelite. US. 2017. 123mins

A teen group therapy session disguised as a superhero movie, Power Rangers is numbingly predictable and cynically made, recycling myriad blockbuster tropes but draining their adolescent pleasures in the process. Based on the loony Japanese series, which morphed into an equally goofy American TV show, this more sincere big-screen version wants to honour its characters' high-school angst while maintaining the property's campy spirit. However, neither tone works.

Opening globally from March 23, this Lionsgate release will face domestic competition from CHiPS, Life and Ghost In The Shell, although Power Rangers may skew a little younger than those other marquee titles. Supporting turns from Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks and Bill Hader lend some star power, but probably the film's biggest commercial strength is audiences' familiarity with the brand.

Taking place in Angel Grove, California, Power Rangers brings together five mismatched teens - including popular, troubled jock Jason (Dacre Montgomery) and nerdy outcast Billy (RJ Cyler) - who are mysteriously drawn to an alien spaceship buried deep inside an abandoned mine. Once there, they learn from Zordon (Cranston) and his smart-ass robot assistant Alpha 5 (voiced by Hader) that they've been chosen to be Power Rangers, a galactic police force that protects each planet's all-powerful crystal from falling into the wrong hands. But first, these teens must learn to work together.

Director Dean Israelite (Project Almanac) brings a hip, pseudo-edgy vibe, presumably to help separate the film from Super Sentai, the original Japanese TV series that debuted in 1975 and whose footage was repurposed for the popular 1990s American series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Knowingly silly, those series have been transformed into a wise-cracking movie adaptation that occasionally mocks the conventions of superhero films while trying to take seriously its characters' teenage insecurities.

Along with Jason and Billy, the Rangers comprise an ostracised cheerleader (Naomi Scott), the perpetual "new girl" (Becky G) whose family keeps moving from town to town each school year, and a cocky extrovert (Ludi Lin) who is hiding the fact that he must care for his ailing mother. …

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