As modern cinema continues to churn out reboots, remakes and superhero movies, it was inevitable that we would see the Power Rangers reintroduction to the big screen. Adapting the 90s kid’s television series this time around is Dean Israelite, with his second feature in the director’s chair. The plot follows a motley crue of societal outcasts who develop superpowers after a near death experience. Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Billy (RJ Cyler), Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G) are led to discover that they will become the next Power Rangers, and with the help of their mentor Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and his robotic assistant Alpha 5 (Bill Hader), they must come together to foil the wicked plans of their nemesis Rita (Elizabeth Banks) to save Angel Grove from destruction.
A few tweaks are made to the original for the latest reincarnation of the story, and one of the key amendments is having the gang as academic misfits rather than squeaky clean swots. This lends the narrative an enjoyable Breakfast Club angle as their union begins with a stint of after-school detention. Much of the story is spent sculpting their individual coming-of-age stories, exploring issues including parent pressure, autism and a sexting scandal. Some strands work better than others as John Gatins’ screenplay struggles to achieve youthful authenticity, coming across as a middle-aged impression of what it’s like to be a teen today. The drawn-out build-up does reach a satisfying final act though, and fanboys and fangirls alike will be left grinning by a nostalgic grandstand battle that really pays off.
The material is as knowingly ridiculous as it should be, but the strength of the performances all round help to keep it from veering towards parody. The energy and charisma from the central fivesome is great, and they each bring something slightly different to the group. Elizabeth Banks is very good as well, completely throwing herself into a brilliantly bonkers performance as the villainous Rita Repulsa. It’s also nice to see Bryan Cranston, whom the Blue Ranger is named after following his voice work in the original, return to the franchise in suitably shoddy CGI as the interdimensional Zordon.
Dean Israelite’s version of The Power Rangers is as mighty and triumphant as it could have been, staying true to the corny heart of the original, but making assured adjustments to morph the series into the modern-day landscape. Amidst the fun of the throwback moments, there is a freshness to the project that comes from taking the time to give the story a broader scope, cleverly doing the groundwork for the sequels that are already in the pipeline. Has it been a worthwhile comeback? As Alpha 5 would say, ‘aye, aye, aye, aye, aye’!