Millions of years ago, there was a battle on Earth over a crystal that saw the original power Rangers defeated by Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) - well, nearly, as one Ranger, Zordon (Bryan Cranston) was able to seal her up in the ground before he effectively went into a coma lasting millennia, waiting for a worthy group of individuals who could succeed in vanquishing the evil from the universe. Skip forward to the twenty-first century and Jason (Dacre Montgomery) is a troublemaking high school student whose idea of what makes a good prank is not anything that amuses anybody else, especially not when he manages to crash his car on his escape route. He is lucky to be alive and sentenced to detention for every Saturday of the year...
Real hero material, right? Hmm, not everyone thought so as the reboot of the Power Rangers franchise met with much dismay from those original fans who wished to take their kids to a movie of the material they loved to watch when they were little themselves, since it simply did not seem suitable for the younglings. Jason, our Red Power Ranger, is introduced with an extremely rude joke about a bull (lifted from the Farrelly Brothers' Kingpin), for example, which set the tone – later, in the heat of battle, RJ Cyler, our Blue Ranger, quoted Bruce Willis' catchphrase from the Die Hard series only he stopped after the "mother-" part, as if that made it fine for the children. Missteps like that littered the production.
After all, this was based on a billion-episode series of cheapo action fantasy television for kids to emulate in playgrounds across the world, just a bit of fun with cartoonish violence of a sort its target audience could emulate without much worry of the rough and tumble getting too out of hand, since the Rangers were portrayed as multi-coloured paragons of virtue, and no child who admired them would want to betray that code of conduct. With this, they did not get to the expected sequences of action until the running time hit the three quarters of the way through point, leaving the rest to be filled up with murkily-shot scenes of either the Rangers, without the power suits, bonding, or Rita drawing her plans against them.
Banks certainly committed to her role, and Cranston was perhaps not as surprising an addition as you might think for he had voiced characters in the American dub of the show back in the nineties and obviously had affection for the series, but they did not lift the material they were given, as antagonism and aggression ruled the tone, even between the good guys. You could see what the producers were getting at, they wished to cash in on the profits of the Transformers blockbusters by reimagining a property aimed at small children and aiming it at teenage boys instead; it was a profitable business model judging by Michael Bay's lavish lifestyle and indeed movies, but it was also loathed by vast swathes of the moviegoing public who seemed to show up to these things simply to hatewatch the flicks into oblivion.
Oblivion in this case meaning movies nobody would fondly look back on, but had enjoyed huge success at the time. There were a few sops to encouraging teamwork in the script of Power Rangers, yet that did not translate to the viewer, and while there was a nod towards diversity there was little positive about the overall effect, which either had the response "turn a light on" or "this is supposed to be for kids?!" It could be the cast were reluctant to sport the costumes for the whole movie, which could explain why even when they did put them on we could often still see their faces, but it never came across as that amusingly cheesy, blatantly penny pinching but enthusiastically unoriginal original so many had grown up with. With the now accustomed overly fussy computer graphics cluttering up the screen, it did not look too pleasant, certainly not the bright colours of the Japanese source, and merely demonstrated that kids' television did not necessarily benefit from a gritty reboot because the peril it depicted simply fell flat, quite apart from the bad taste. Music by Brian Tyler.