POWER RANGERS 7.5 out of 10; Directed by Dean Israelite; Written by John Gatins; Starring Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston and Bill Hader; Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, language, and for some crude humor; Running time 124 minutes; In wide release March 24, 2017.

Power Rangers was a big part of my youth that had slipped away as I grew up. Sure, it was fun to occasionally revisit, especially since my husband is a huge fan and constantly has it on, but that was it – a pleasant trip down memory road. Or so I thought. The reboot piqued my interest, and I got more and more excited as the movie approached. While it has its share of flaws and takes itself too seriously at times, Power Rangers is a ton of fun and will give fans everything they were hoping for and more.

Five high school misfits from Angel Grove – Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberley (Naomi Scott), Billy (RJ Cyler), Trini (Becky G) and Zack (Ludi Lin) – meet during detention and form a tenuous and unlikely bond. During a late-night adventure at a gold mine, the teenagers stumble across five brightly colored coins which bestow weird and interesting gifts on them. As they further explore, they discover an alien spaceship that houses a spirit named Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and his android helper, Alpha 5 (Bill Hader). Zordon informs them that they have been chosen to be the newest team of Power Rangers. Furthermore, they must band together to take on the evil Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) who has also awakened and is hellbent on destroying the earth. The Rangers must train and learn to trust each other or else Angel Grove, the earth and the rest of the universe is doomed.

Anyone familiar with Chronicle or director Dean Israelite’s previous movie, Project Almanac, will see a similar story and themes unfold here, and to be honest, it’s not all that original. If there’s one big problem that sticks out is that it doesn’t fully understand the camp the original show was based on and tries too hard to be serious. In fact, the only one who seems to get it is Elizabeth Banks who deliciously chews through every scene she’s in.

It’s also unfortunate that it plods along much too haphazardly and without aim at times. Character development is great and necessary, but it often feels like padding that could have been more tightly edited to improve the final experience. It was refreshing to see such a positive portrayal of someone on the Autism spectrum, but the possible inclusion of an LGBTQ Ranger falls flat. We’re at a point in history where a sly nod and subtle reference isn’t enough to warrant true representation.

At its core, Rangers is a film about friendship and family between the most unlikely of people, and this is its strongest point. Despite a few being somewhat newcomers, the actors believably portray a slow bonding between the characters that feels organic and realistic, and there is a lot of genuine emotion being shared between them. For anyone who has ever felt like an outcast, the longing to belong and find a family will strongly hit home.

And once it hits the last 30 minutes, Rangers fully opens into the grand and exciting film we’ve been waiting for. Even people not familiar with the source material will have fun, and longtime fans will be on the edge of and wanting to jump out of their seats.

Power Rangers is a love letter to those fans, and everyone who grew up with them are going to lose their minds finally seeing their beloved series come to life on the big screen. I just wish it coalesced into something more than the sum of its parts as there’s not much here to convert those unfamiliar with the mythology, and its myriad problems are more likely to stick out to them. But those in the former group are going to be having the time of their lives and will want to buy an extra ticket to experience it a second time as soon as it ends.

7.5 out of 10

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Tags: megazord , rita repulsa , zordon , power rangers