After an admittedly cool flashback sequence opens up this dark and gritty reboot, we get our first introductions to the discount 2017 styled version of The Breakfast Club. Jason (Dacre Montgomery) is the captain of the football team, currently on house arrest and therefore no longer part of the team, causing uproar amongst his fellow students. Kimberly (Naomi Scott) is, uh, friendless, I guess, and the same goes for new student Trini (Becky G.). Billy (RJ Cyler) is the school outsider, going from class to class with very few friends. Then there’s Zack (Ludi Lin), who apparently goes to their school too, instead choosing to spend his days at home. They’re a bunch of misfits and social outcasts, brought together through unexpected circumstances.
Power Rangers is a perfect example of a film that has absolutely no idea what it’s trying to be. It’s too dark and self-serious to appeal to a younger audience, yet too goofy and in your face to appeal to older audiences, either. The film lacks tonal focus, beginning with a mature audience in mind yet slowly raveling away into a ridiculous, over the top mess. Our first introduction to the character of Jason is a gag in which one of his friends accidentally admits to masturbating a cow, followed by a close up shot of said cow’s genitals. Parents hoping to take their kids to what it typically a kid-friendly brand will be immediately shocked, their disgust furthered by the dark and violent nature of what follows.
Once you’re able to get past the initial character introductions, this movie’s first act is surprisingly decent. Subtly may be nowhere to be found, Kimberly’s friends literally cutting her out of a photo right in front of her, but it’s fun. Characters come and go as the plot pleases, all of the Rangers conveniently showing up together at the exact same spot without any sort of a logical explanation, but it’s idiosyncrasies like that which add to the joy of the first act. It’s imperfect, but I had fun with it… until it never ended. It’s not until over 90 minutes into the film that the second act begins, ending just five minutes later and going straight into the big third act finale.
One perk that should’ve come from having Power Rangers be a slow burner is character development, yet there’s none to be found. Bill Hader steals the show as Alpha 5, but merely because there’s nobody to really steal the spotlight from. There’s an attempt to give Jason and Billy a backstory, and it kind of works for what this film is going for, but they’re about the only ones who get any sort of depth. About two third into the movie, there comes a point where the filmmakers realised they forgot to explain who any of these characters are and therefore sit them down in a prolonged sequence that’s nothing more than uninteresting, mostly forgettable exposition. Their arcs (or lack of) don’t play into the plot at hand, nor do they do a proficient job at creating empathy for any of the characters.
Product placement is something that’s been a part of cinema for a very long time. After having been subdued to so much of it over the years, it rarely bothers me anymore. I get it, I notice it, and most of the time, I don’t care. Power Rangers, however, is unforgiveable. Without delving into spoilers as to why, although to be frank, there’s not much you can spoil when it comes to this movie, the entirety of the film is one big ad for Krispy Kreme. Once a certain discovery is made, the remainder of the plot revolves around the company, often cited as being delicious and amazing. As much as I wish this were a joke, there’s a scene in which Elizabeth Banks, in the middle of a fight scene, decides to walk into the store, sit down with the company logo clearly placed to the left of frame, and takes her time in eating a plate of donuts. That’s when I gave up on this movie.
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