I’ve never been more angry and confused in my nearly 20 years of watching film. “Power Rangers,” released on March 24 to much anticipation from adults and children alike. Instead, the film fell flat. A mess of corporate desire and misguided progressivism shoved into a two hour chaotic attempt at pandering to old and new fans of the franchise.
A group of five “delinquent” teenagers stumble upon a meteor containing colored stones giving them incredible powers. Soon after this discovery, the group finds a spaceship housing Zordon, who left the stones for anyone to find, so that they may become the Power Rangers, protectors of the planet.
Now the group’s mission is to stop Rita Repulsa, a former Ranger who is now hell-bent on gaining immeasurable power so she can take over the world.
Basically the film falls flat and I’m not sure who to blame for it. To launch the list of problems: the main actors are either boring or terrible. The actors might actually be that mediocre, but it seems that the script simply doesn’t give them enough to work with. These characters are defined by their dark pasts and one-dimensional personalities, which amount to nothing but attempting to cajole a millennial audience.
Two of the main characters, Billy and Trini, are autistic and gay respectively. While this may seem like a progressive move, the film never quite commits to these identities or captures the struggles of a mental disability or being part of the LGBTQ community. The film never even explicitly states that Trini is a lesbian. The only reason this is known is because Director Dean Israelite told the Hollywood Reporter, “Trini, really she’s questioning a lot about who she is.”
However the film never explicitly states that Trini is a lesbian, just that her problems aren’t related to “Boyfriends.”
Billy’s autism is never fully acknowledged and isn’t consistent either. Even worse, the character doesn’t act like someone with autism. Instead, he comes off as an offensive, stereotypical caricature used solely for comic relief.
While these labels could have made the characters more interesting, the movie simply relies on troupes for the sake of progressiveness, which only makes their one-dimensional characterizations more apparent.
Trini and Billy’s characters actually represent a bigger problem with “Power Rangers” as a whole though. The film wants to appeal to every type of audience, but it can’t commit to anything it sets out to do. They want to be progressive, but not enough to make a statement.
The tone suffers because of this flip-flop tactic, seeming dark and serious at points, but then becoming light-hearted in the strangest of places. These odd moments usually involve the villian Rita, who’s goofy homage to the villain from the original series simply does not work with the rest of the movie.
Her ridiculous acting is only warranted during the over-the-top final action set-piece, which is infuriatingly disappointing. This is the only time we see these characters in the Ranger suits, and this is the first time the audience is supposed to witness impressive action scenes, but they’re just plain boring.
There’s no flow or sense of impact in these fights. There is an overabundance of slow motion, which consistently turns almost cool shots into embarrassing examples of “trying too hard.” The most disappointing part is that scenes of humans fighting in the first hour and a half have more interesting camerawork and choreography than those involving giant dinosaur robots.
There is even heavy corporate influence interwoven throughout the film, and it becomes painfully obvious halfway through when Krispy Kreme suddenly becomes important. The company is mentioned in every other sentence until the credits roll.
This style of corporate greed and lifelessness can be felt throughout the film’s entire production. The filmmakers want to have their cake and eat it too – trying to appeal to older and newer fans alike, while catching the widest audience. Ironically though, it appears they can’t even bake the cake to make it worth eating in the first place.