|Mass Effect has really gotten weird.|
Our movie opens with a Red Ranger crawling through the muck of a battlefield, wherein he retrieves the power coin of a dying Yellow Ranger, who is also an alien. Our Ranger has retrieved all the coins from his fallen comrades and places them, along with his own, in safe keeping, just as he calls down a meteor strike to take out him and his foe, Rita. This is our introduction to Zordon. This happy scene is followed with a sequence of a high school prank gone awry as Jason, our hunky football star lead, is in crippling accident that ruins his chances for ever playing for the NFL during the course of which is a pretty explicit masturbation/bestiality joke. Go go Power Rangers!
We follow him through is first day of detention, where we meet Kimberly, who's done something vaguely bad that causes her to lose her friendships and cut her hair, Billy, a mildly autistic kid who is picked on by the bullies at school and has a penchant for exploding lunch pails, and...well, that's it. Jason stands up for Billy, who in gratitude offers him use of his van if Jason will come over and help him. In addition, since Jason has an ankle bracelet for his house arrest, Billy can fix that too. Because, you know, science or some shit. This leads to a number of shenanigans that vaguely introduce Trini and Zach, and the whole gang is together when Billy blows up a wall and exposes some "weird ass glass" that they find the Power Coins in. Then there is a wacky chase scene where they bond to outrun a train and...fail horribly. Then they wake up with super powers, and begin to explore both their new powers and their burgeoning relationships to each other.
Ultimately this is a film about teen drama and finding friendships that happens to have some Power Rangers stuff bolted on top of it. The acting is all pretty solid, with a great cast and some good writing. The Teen Drama isn't so much of the "after school special" variety (compared to say, a 90s TV show), but it does feel like this is a series of television episodes that has a bigger budget...at least until the last 20 minutes of the film or so, which I'll get to in a bit. I liked the characters, and even cared about them, and I wanted to see them succeed. Elisabeth Banks is clearly having a blast chewing all the scenery as Rita, and Malcolm's Dad is kind of weird as a less obviously benevolent Zordon, but it works out. Bill Hader as Alpha 5 did not make me want to punch things, which is always good.
There are some twists and turns along the path to the epic (I guess) climax. Zordon's main motivation in getting them trained up and morphing is that it will allow him to come back from being just "dude in a wall". The teens have to learn to morph...and they suck at it because it requires the Power of Friendship or the Heart of the Cards or something, and Billy is basically the only one who is really trying at some point. Kimberly is clearly a not nice person who is trying to do the right thing and still occasionally fails. Rita straight up kills a Ranger (Well, along with Super Drowning Skills), which is less of a setback than you might think. Still, when the film is ending, I felt like the team really pulled together to save the day. The film might not have impressive skill, but it's got heart!
Of course, now we get into the more questionable parts of the film. So, Rita kills Billy by throwing him into the water at a dock and maybe zapping him too? Hard to tell, but it mostly seems like he drowned. The other Rangers pull him out, and he eventually is resurrected, but I was like "Dude, at the beginning of the film you held your breath for like, 10 minutes, and you were underwater here for maybe 2 or 3." Goldar looks like absolute garbage. While I mostly liked the individual Zord designs, the stand outs being the T-Rex and the Pteradon ones, the Megazord looked like Optimus Prime forgot to put on clothes and then decided to go be in Pacific Rim. Krispy Kreme must have paid out the fucking nose for its incredibly plot relevant product placement in this film, as LITERALLY the location of the "source of all life" Zeo Crystal. I did laugh when they also failed to move the Megazord right after forming it, but that bit ruined the momentum of the scene. I would have liked to see some more action scenes too. Some of the "for fans" lines were reeeeeeaally shoehorned in awkwardly, particularly "Make my Monster Grow!". The end of the film just rushed through a bunch of stuff to get to the final action sequence.
On the FACE Rating System, this film gets 1 Smiley Face. I rather enjoyed it, and it had some great callbacks to previous Ranger series (and cameos by Amy Jo Johnson and Jason David Frank from the Mighty Morphin' days). The acting was a step above Power Rangers in general, and the script mostly worked within its bounds, even if there were holes the size of Zords in the plot at times. It's a big, not too smart Teen Drama with some Science Fantasy parts tacked on. If you are a Power Rangers fan, you should go see it. Everyone else...maybe wait for the Redbox and a time when your brain won't nitpick some stuff. If you are into CW shows, this should make you happy. Goldar sucks though, and oddly I really wanted a doughnut when I walked out of the theater. May the Power Protect You!