* * C
Power Rangers was surprisingly good (almost worthy of three stars), considering how low my expectations were. It had a Breakfast Club beginning, followed with a decent training and preparation act, and culminated with a satisfying climax. The writers got a number of things right, including relationships between the teens and their families, where the parents aren’t stupid, they just don’t understand their kids. In one case, it’s the mother who is overbearing and the father who is reasonable, which is refreshing.
The characters are surprisingly nuanced. Jason (Dacre Montgomery)’s father’s high hopes for him and disappointment in him make their relationship a rocky one. Yet you are shown (not told) that he is where he is because of an injury, and its clear that he understands the hypocrisy with which stars are treated. Kimerbly (Naomi Scott) has learned a hard truth about herself. Billy (RJ Cyler) is nerdy, but forms a real friendship with Jason. Zack (Ludi Lin) secretly cares for his ailing mother. Trini (Becky G.) has a rocky relationship with her mother, the reasons for which are hinted at.
Where the film falls down is with the aliens. Brian Cranston is good as Zordon, the dead leader of a troop of aliens who protected Earth, who tries to use the teens to resurrect himself. Alpha 5 is totally annoying and could and should have been eliminated from the script. The villain, Rita Repulsa, a former ranger turned evil, is played way over the top by Elizabeth Banks. Her performance fits with the fairly cheesy ending, but is out of place with more serious tone of the second act.
Overall, this is a fun film, worth a watch for light, not entirely mindless, entertainment.