Lionsgate and Saban’s “Power Rangers” arrives Friday in theaters nationwide, and reviews are beginning to trickle in. While the first teaser for the franchise reboot fans lukewarm, additional trailers and TV spots have stoked excitement from devotees of the 1990s television series. The overall assessment from critics appears to lean toward “Power Rangers” being pretty good, but with plenty of room for improvement.
Here’s a selection of what the critics are saying about “Power Rangers”:
Alex Welch, IGN: “Make no mistake, this ‘Power Rangers’ is still just as campy and cheesy as the original ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,’ but it just looks much better than that early ’90s version could ever be. To put it simply, this is very much a film for the fans out there who always wondered what Power Rangers might look like if the budget for the special effects and action sequences matched the ambition of them.”
Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter: “Screenwriter John Gatins succeeds in effectively distilling the ‘Power Rangers’ sprawling mythology into a manageable scope and dialing back the campy humor and martial arts fixations that characterized the TV series and liberally informed the feature films. The current version instead emphasizes more realistic dramatic situations by imbuing each Ranger with some type of personal issue.”
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap: “‘Power Rangers’ is baloney through and through, but as baloney goes, it’s better than you might expect. It packs enough zing to make you forgive the origin-story clichés. And the predictable save-the-world stuff. And the insanely ubiquitous product placement.”
Scott Mendelson, Forbes: “Dean Israelite’s ‘Power Rangers’ does make some of the mistakes found in less successful origin story reboots, mainly in spending too much time getting to what audiences came to see. But it does work as an engaging teen coming-of-age drama, a kind of ‘Breakfast Club’-meets-‘Chronicle’ mash-up that turns into ‘Pacific Rim’ in the third act. Maybe the movie shouldn’t work, but it more or less does. It is also rooted in a nostalgia for a time when movies like this were less commonplace.”
Emily Yoshida, Vulture: “Make no mistake, ‘Power Rangers’ is a cash grab. Nobody asked for an update of the ’90s after-school staple, not even the core millennial demographic at whom its nostalgia is aimed with intermittent accuracy…..But as cash grabs go, this one is delightfully unconcerned with coolness, neither shying away from its chintzy roots nor ironically embracing them. It’s nostalgic, but more for a lost era of friends-forever sentimentality that was the bedrock of everything from ‘The Baby-Sitter’s Club’ to ‘Captain Planet.'”
Julia Alexander, Polygon: “‘Power Rangers’ isn’t a bad movie, but it is confused. It finds its strength in the main cast, but [Dean] Israelite doesn’t know what kind of movie he wants to make. Is it a retelling of the story known so well from ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’? Is it an origin story? Is it an homage to the corny, but beloved ninjas that populated TV screens for years?”
Owen Gleiberman, Variety: “After 90 minutes of hip and hollow teen banter, woefully generic origin story, and molehill-posing-as-mountain-size triumph (our heroes spend half the film learning how to morph, when all that comes down to is getting their color-coordinated chintzy plastic sci-fi armor suits to snap into place), ‘Power Rangers’ finally uncorks one of those high-flying digital-blitzkrieg action finales that was mocked in ‘Birdman’ as the essence of blockbuster decadence. It is indeed, but to put it in movie-junk-food terms: Just because you know a sequence like this one is bad for you doesn’t mean that it’s not fun to watch.”
Brian Truitt, USA Today: “But ‘Power Rangers’ (** out of four; rated PG-13; in theaters nationwide Friday) only somewhat lives up to its nostalgia trip. It takes about 90 minutes of angsty teen-superhero origin story before it figures out that, hey, it’s a ‘Power Rangers’ movie and therefore requires the most ridiculous action-movie climax in recent memory. A giant robot bumps and grinds, folks. You can’t unsee that.”
Conner Schwerdtfeger, CinemaBlend: “‘Power Rangers’ is more faithful to the original series than a first glance at the visuals might initially indicate, but that’s also arguably a major drawback. Although the film is a ton of fun and showcases some fantastic character development (particularly on the parts of Dacre Montgomery and RJ Cyler), it’s still a true origin story that hits most of the same story beats as the original ‘Day of the Dumpster’ pilot from 1993. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but stretching a twenty-minute pilot into a two-hour film causes ‘Power Rangers” story to lose some of its density, and the lack of any real twists or turns makes the build up to the final showdown against Rita somewhat predictable.”
Germain Lussier, io9: “For its majority, ‘Power Rangers’ is a heavy-handed, character-forward teen drama with a little bit of Rangers stuff sprinkled in. It’s way, way less interested in the characters as color-coded superheroes than it is with their struggles to grow up and accept the responsibility of being Power Rangers. It’s not a bad story, but it’s so devoted to its teen drama it doesn’t have time for fighting and Zords and everything that makes the franchise fun, so overall the movie feels wildly uneven and, ultimately, disappointing.”
Directed by Dean Israelite, the film follows five ordinary teens who must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove — and the world — is on the verge of obliteration by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, they quickly discover they’re the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so, they will have to overcome their real-life issues and band together as the Power Rangers.
“Power Rangers” stars Dacre Montgomery as the Red Ranger, Naomi Scott as the Pink Ranger, Ludi Lin as the Black Ranger, R.J. Cyler as the Blue Ranger, Becky G as the Yellow Ranger, Bryan Cranston as Zordon and Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa.