Power Rangers (PG13)
Starring Dacre Montgomery, Becky G, Naomi Scott, Ludi Lin, RJ Cyler, Elizabeth Banks
Directed by Dean Israelite
I really thought I was going to hate this movie, but — guess what? — it’s actually not too bad (for the most part). It has a plot that’s a little more surprising and acting a little better than I expected.
Banish all memories of the 1995 version of the children’s kid show, an excruciating camp-fest that has limited appeal to anyone over 10. This new take, however, is for the fans as well as those raised on Christopher Nolan and John Hughes.
The plot: Five multi-ethnic high school misfits (Dacre Montgomery, Becky G, Naomi Scott, Ludi Lin and RJ Cyler) are bestowed with extraterrestrial powers, which they’ll use to defend the planet.
Basically, it’s The Breakfast Club with superpowers. But first the kids must learn to fight as a unit. Cue the obligatory montage with the rookie guardians training under the watchful eyes of their mentor Zorn (Bryan Cranston), and Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader), the robot help-cum-comic relief.
Director Dean Israelite — whose debut, Project Almanac, a nifty time travel flick produced by Michael Bay — did a good job of approaching the material with some verisimilitude.
The movie takes great care to develop the characters (there’s a poignant scene where the kids gather around a camp fire to share their backstories), so by the time — about 90 minutes in — they don their Power Rangers gear, now Iron Man-looking armour suits instead of the risible spandex outfits, you’re rooting for them to kick ass.
Tonally, there’s a nice balance between gravitas and lightness, but it isn’t 100 per cent cheese-free. Elizabeth Banks has a ball hamming it up as Rita Repulsa, the villain who’s like a cross between Cruella de Vil and the Borg Queen from Star Trek.
But that’s not the bad news. If you’ve maxed out on your tolerance for big screen mass mayhem (the type that causes lots of damage but zero fatalities), then the Pacific Rim-style fracas in the finale is going to be boring.
For the sequel, let’s have the Rangers clean up their own mess. (* * *)
Photo: Lionsgate/Kimberly French