Go, go (away) Power Rangers: 'It's so boring'

Jonathan Roberts
The New Paper
24 March 2017

For a superhero film so brazenly pushing Krispy Kreme doughnuts, I should be more forgiving.

But no amount of sugar glaze could sweeten this dog's dinner - and "dinner" was not my first choice of word.

To go through everything wrong with Power Rangers will require more typing than there is time in the world. Its most unforgivable sin is that IT'S SO BORING.

It really should not be that hard to inject life into a story about five high school kids with superpowers.

Yet, it takes 90 minutes for the heroes to get suited up - which for anyone hoping to see a film about Power Rangers will not seem fair. 

Even then, they almost instantly get into their dinosaur-shaped Zord vehicles for the remainder of the film. That means we get to watch the actors reacting in cockpits. We watch them making "Wow" faces. What... a... thrill.

The original TV series was daft but it was never dull.

It hit every key factor needed for a hit show for kids - especially with action scenes overlaid with a catchy theme tune.

To be fair, you can sense that at one point, there was a vision to this.

Something more mature, with a touch of Friday Night Lights.

That grab for an older audience is clear with the woefully misjudged 'milking a bull' gag at the very start. You aren't – and definitely should not be – aiming at primary school kids with material like that.  

But I guess it's hard to stay with realism when you have to get five "teens" into colourful jumpsuits and have large robots combine into one giant robot in order to fight a monster. And heaven knows, this films puts that moment off for as long as it can.

So whether through studio meddling, ADHD or just general incompetence, it was dropped - along with any semblance of logic. As though because it is a kid's film, pace, plot and continuity don't matter.

They can't even grasp basics such as location. The struggling rural mining town of Angel Grove suddenly turns out to also be a fairly prosperous fishing port.

The grim, glowering north-western sky suddenly turns to bright California sun for the CGI-heavy finale - possibly because bright light takes less work to look real.

In a twist - one apparently forgotten by the director - Kimberly/Pink Ranger's (Scott) "bullies" have a very legitimate reason to not be friends with her. It turns out that Kimberly was the meanest of the mean girls. Yet she still fist-pumps in triumph when she damages their car in the final battle, essentially making her a super-bully with a jet fighter.

Jason/Red Ranger’s (Montgomery) family is another matter.

Losing his place on the football team is made to seem like he’s lost his ticket out of a dying backwater.  

Yet, the home looks quite nice with two cars and a nice kitchen.

Then later, just after he gets his powers, he goes to his bathroom which appears to be some dilapidated prospector's outhouse.

On the subject of rebel-without-charisma Jason, while there’s an outcry over whitewashing in Hollywood, can we start a movement to stop age-washing?

Not one of these "high schoolers" is actually below 20. The oldest, Lin, is just shy of 30. Montgomery is in his mid-20s but looks older.

Of the cast, RJ Cyler as Billy (Blue Ranger) is the best of the bunch. Here, Billy has autism which leads to a gag about the spectrum. At points, it seems Cyler's research may have only extended to watching Rain Man, but he is the only one of the five leads to give their character heart.

You have to feel sorry for the more established cast members, who were probably looking forward to camping it up.

Banks has a decent stab at pantomiming the gold-obsessed villain Rita Repulsa, but she’s just not served well by everything around her.

It's similar to watching someone gamely try to over-compensate for being the only one to dress up for the Halloween party.

As for Cranston and Hader, as animated characters Zordon and Alpha 5, trapped in the Ranger control centre, you can imagine a lot of deep intakes of breath followed by heavy sighs bookending each line reading.

While Cranston still gives his role gravitas, Hader's sassy robot pal schtick seems to grate on the actor more than anyone.

And forget any sing-a-long. There is only the shortest blast of Go Go Power Rangers before it is gone gone.

If you really want a half-hour of fully-suited Power Rangers action, watch the TV show.

Rating: 1.5

MOVIE: Power Rangers

STARRING: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G, Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston, Bill Hader

DIRECTOR: Dean Israelite

THE SKINNY: Five outsider teens (Montgomery, Scott, Cyler, Lin and Becky G) are given amazing powers. They eventually get their act together to fight a gold-obsessed alien witch (Banks).


Still showing

The New Paper

Get The New Paper for more stories.