Power Rangers review: "A handful of sparky leads can’t help this superhero reboot"

GamesRadar+ Verdict

A handful of sparky leads can’t help this superhero reboot find an appropriate tone. No no, Power Rangers.

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There’s a fundamental misjudgement at the heart of Power Rangers, the latest franchise wannabe. It takes a property that could never be cool to anyone over the age of 12, and stuffs it to the gills with Breakfast Club-style teen angst. It’s impossible to fathom who it’s actually aimed at: too dull for kids seeking superhero thrills, too lame for anyone who might actually be in a position to relate to its protagonists.

The borderline-edgy leads comprise fallen sports hero Jason (Zac Efronalike Dacre Montgomery), “on the spectrum” Billy (Me & Earl’s RJ Cyler), ostracised cool girl Kimberly (Naomi Scott), surly Trini (Becky G.) and Zack (Ludi Lin), whose characterisation extends to having a sick mother.

Jason, Billy and Kimberly meet in Saturday detention, crossing paths with the others at the site where Zordon (Bryan Cranston) – one of the original prehistoric alien Rangers from the Cenozoic era – buried crystals that’ll give the new chosen ones powers.

Reincarnated as a disembodied mentor, Cranston suffers the indignity of acting through a lousy visual effect that’s basically a large-scale version of those pin-art contraptions you pressed your face into as a kid. As well as receiving trite nuggets of mentor wisdom, the gang’s training only really covers performing suplexes.

It’s not entirely without merit. Director Dean Israelite (Project Almanac) flaunts visual panache with a spinning 360-degree view from inside a car during a chase, while the team of photogenic outcasts aren’t entirely charmless, with Cyler getting most of the laughs.

It also takes commendable baby steps towards being a more progressive superhero film, and includes a casual reference to one character’s non-heterosexuality. But any potential warmth is derailed with some misfiring decisions, including two-too-many wanking gags and an act of revenge porn that’s shrugged off as character building.

For viewers of a certain age, there will possibly be pangs of involuntary nostalgia when (finally) it’s morphin’ time: like the TV series, there’s a cheap-looking fight in a quarry. But by this point, it’s hard to feel invested in the stakes.

Elizabeth Banks’ hammy baddie Rita Repulsa feels like she’s been transplanted from an entirely different, younger-skewing film, and the mythology feels not so much half-baked as raw. When the indistinguishable Zords assemble for some sub-par Bayhem, the budget VFX struggle to conjure much excitement. 

It’s a meh climax to a reboot that feels misguided: when your film has such egregious product placement that Krispy Kreme becomes the source of all power in the universe, the buck has to stop somewhere.

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Matt Maytum
Deputy Editor, Total Film

I'm the Deputy Editor at Total Film magazine, looking after the long-form features there, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.