Power Rangers

 

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The colour-coordinated teenage ass-kickers are back - and more diverse than ever.

 

Power Rangers

Colour range: Ludi Lin, Naomi Scott, Dacre Montgomery, RJ Cyler and Becky G

 

Just what the world needs: five more superheroes. Actually, this teenage quintet has been rebooted from the 1995 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, which, itself, was an extension of the 1993-1995 TV series. But in a world of increasingly self-conscious diversity, this chapter plays fast and loose with politically correct tokenism. Thus, our five superheroes comprise one white, blond, blue-eyed male (‘the leader,’ natch), a dark-haired white girl (the London-born Naomi Scott, with a convincing American accent), an African-American autistic male, a Chinese-American male and a Hispanic lesbian. The experience of encountering these disparate teenage outcasts is like discovering a smattering of goji berries in one’s bubblegum. In its calculating variegation, it’s actually offensive. If the film wanted to be really PC, it should’ve made the Rangers’ leader a transgender albino American Indian.

 

Anyway, it all starts much along the same lines as the vastly superior and considerably cheaper Chronicle, the 2012 thriller that launched the careers of Michael B. Jordan and Dane DeHaan. Unfortunately, the acting in Power Rangers is hardly of the same calibre, although Ms Scott, Dacre Montgomery, RJ Cyler, Becky G and Ludi Lin are all likeable enough. The real culprit behind the film’s numbing tedium is the South African filmmaker Dean Israelite, who directs with the braindead predictability of an automaton. If the global workforce is worried about being replaced by robots, Mr Israelite is one step ahead of the game. With every change in tone powered by Brian Tyler’s propulsive music, or a familiar pop anthem, the hardware quickly becomes the victim of the narrative software.

 

For the record, five American students end up in a mine and when the autistic Billy Cranston (Cyler) blows up a rock face, all five find themselves endowed with super powers. But their encounter is no coincidence. Another Cranston, this time the Oscar nominee Bryan Cranston – who plays a giant hologrammatic Pinscreen – has engineered the teenagers’ rendezvous in order to save the planet. Because they are the Chosen Ones. And in another shift from the traditional, their adversary is a female (Elizabeth Banks), an alien called Rita who gulps down gold jewellery like pistachio nuts. Her aim is to destroy mankind.

 

The climax, when it finally comes, is a meaningless display of CGI pyrotechnics in which size proves to be everything. Alas, in spite of all the bold swipes at cultural novelty, the execution itself is anything but unconventional.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bill Hader (voice only), Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Wesley MacInnes.

 

Dir Dean Israelite, Pro Haim Saban, Brian Casentini, Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, Screenplay John Gatins, from a story by Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney, Ph Matthew J. Lloyd, Pro Des Andrew Menzies, Ed Martin Bernfeld and Dody Dorn, Music Brian Tyler, Costumes Kelli Jones.

 

Lionsgate/Temple Hill Entertainment-Lionsgate.

123 mins. USA/Canada. 2017. Rel: 23 March 2017. Cert. 12A.