‘Power Rangers’ pleases despite its faults

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A while back, I wrote a column on this page discussing adaptations, more specifically the fine line between a faithful adaptation and a deviated adaptation. In the piece, I discussed the specific elements that an adaptation needs to change or stay the same from the source material in order for it to succeed. Well, I cannot believe I am saying this, but Dean Israelite’s “Power Rangers” finds that sweet spot, and the result is a shockingly well put together film.

The film, based on the popular television show from the 90s, of course, delivers on so many different fronts that it is almost baffling how after all of the cheesy, laughable Power Ranger films the world has seen to date, the dreaded “modern update” is the one to succeed the most.

For those familiar with the show, the premise will be pretty standard. Five teenagers in Angel Grove, California, Jason, Kimberly, Trini, Billy, and Zack, find themselves caught up in a plot to destroy the universe and must suit up as Power Rangers to defend it.

What works best when it comes to this film compared to past Power Rangers films is quite recognizable from the get go. All five of our lead heroes are an absolute joy to watch interacting with one another. Each actor completely sells his or her given part. The chemistry between the five of them is infectious and believable and allows the audience to become invested, which is one of the most difficult things to do with five equally important main characters.

Unlike the original Power Rangers series, every one of the Rangers is 100 percent believable in their roles. Each one of them looks, acts, and feels like a real teenager with problems and attitudes. These kids are not perfect. They act out, get into trouble, and have their stresses. They even manage to diversify them by not only giving them a wide range of ethnicities, but also including an autistic character as well as a gay character. All of the Rangers deal with their own, individual issues, which are heavily reflective of real problems teenagers are forced to deal with every day, making this the most genuine portrayal of the Power Rangers to date.

The story also is surprisingly great. Each Ranger is given his or her own arc throughout the film that both makes sense and is completely satisfying. Even Bryan Cranston’s Zordon, who has limited screen time, manages to have his own character arc. Sure, the plot is silly and outlandish, but the Power Rangers have always operated that way, and those who paid money to see this film likely welcome that zaniness with open arms.

One of the more common complaints you will likely see with this movie is that the Rangers do not actually suit up and kick ass as Power Rangers until about the last half hour of the film. For me, however, this was an incredibly solid decision. Sure, some people who paid to see Transformer-esque action throughout will be disappointed, but the pacing of events leading up to the not-so-epic-yet-not-so-terrible finale is so good that I did not mind one bit that the film was light on the action. The film gives a good reason why the kids cannot morph into their superhero alter-egos. Their morphing is impossible until they fully understand each other and what it means to completely give their trust to one another and work as a team, which is necessary for the audience to become invested in them as well, so it really works out.

However, there are definitely issues with the film that bring it down a peg and get the eyes rolling. The biggest flaw would likely have to be the writing of the film, specifically the dialogue. Even though the Rangers themselves are authentic, this is solely due to the acting. About three quarters of the dialogue in this movie is completely absurd. Real humans do not talk like the people in “Power Rangers” talk, especially when it comes to the adult characters. This feeds into the hokier moments even more and tips it far enough over the edge to elicit some strong “come on, really?” reactions.

Additionally, Elizabeth Banks’ interpretation of the dreaded Rita Repulsa, while certainly serviceable and even slightly disturbing during the first half of the film, leaves a little to be desired. She has her over-the-top moments as well as her threatening ones, but they are not quite enough to make her a memorable villain.

All in all, I am shocked but ultimately pleased to say go see “Power Rangers” in theaters. It is well worth the time and money.