"Power Rangers" - Movie Review

The movie opens in the Cenozoic era, setting up the Power Rangers as protectors of life, and the green Ranger - "Rita Repulsa," played by Elizabeth Banks - as the betrayer. So now we know what caused the meteor strike in the Cenozoic: it was the heroic Red Ranger (Bryan Cranston) dying in an attempting to stop the evil Rita, the former Green Ranger. The movie resumes in the modern day: our heroes are five misfits who all arrive at the same place at the same time to excavate the Ranger's coloured Power Coins. By a truly staggering co-incidence, just as Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) is getting his red power coin, Jason's father is dragging Rita's frozen and/or dessicated but still somewhat animate corpse up from the bottom of the sea in his fishing boat. Inevitably, the Power Rangers must train (with the assistance of ugly, stupid, and supposedly comedic alien robot "Alpha 5" voiced by Bill Hader), bond, and fight Rita.

I've never seen more than thirty seconds of any of the old Power Rangers TV series, so I have almost nothing for comparison. Early in the film, we get a very old joke: "I milked the cow," "umm, that's a bull," followed by "we will never speak of this again." That encapsulates the level of both humour and originality on display in the movie ...

The young actors playing the Rangers are a game group: they try hard, but they're given a lousy script and incredibly ugly costumes. Cranston is one of the best actors alive these days - and he spends the entire movie as a WALL. Animated, yes, but badly so and his acting skills are totally wasted. Banks seems like the perfect choice to play Rita, and she goes all camp on the role as only she knows how - but in the end it's still neither threatening nor funny ... it just doesn't work. RJ Cyler (formerly of "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl") as the autistic and enthusiastic Billy Cranston/Blue Ranger is probably the best of the bunch although I kept thinking he was on the set of "Stranger Things." And the costumes - man, the costumes. Marvel has done a fantastic job translating insanely colourful and ludicrous comic-book costumes to the big screen, and DC has done a good job too ... but whoever they got for costume design on this one should never work again: it's a trashy plastic toy look that may tie in to merchandise sales, but to do that you have to appeal to people in the first place - and these don't. The (strong) resemblance of the movie as a whole to the "Transformers" franchise was ironically acknowledged when one of the Rangers chucks a yellow Camaro (with black racing stripe) and says "sorry Bumblebee!"

The movie made me think about objects choosing people of merit: the most obvious current comparison was the recent rather similar (and almost as crappy) "Green Lantern" movie. But the idea of things choosing people goes back at least as far as the legend of Arthur pulling Excalibur from the stone.

It's a terrible movie, but I have to admit I was at least mildly entertained. In part because it was so spectacularly bad, and I was fascinated by all the things that went wrong (normally I don't care, I don't know what made this different ...). And a little because of the speculation about objects choosing people (and how improbable that was to have it happen five at once - it's normally one object, one person).