Power Rangers review: The bad movie that's very easy to love

All because, for once, it feels like it actually understands and has faith in its intended audience

2017's Power Rangers is, in technical lingo, what is termed a bad film. The dialogue is flat, the plotting random, and the effects shaky. It's a movie that's shot half like a corporate-sponsored ad for selling your organs to fund your gap year, half like those music videos that won't stop intercutting between a couple's sensuous tickle-fight and them staring down the camera like we were responsible for their inevitable breakup.

Furthermore, it's a Power Rangers movie in its bare bones only. It assumes either you already know the team's story or that you straight up don't care, sprinting straight through the basic narrative of five teenagers chosen to pick up the mantle of a long line of intergalactic warriors tasked with defending the Zeo Crystal – which is really important for some reason – from getting into the hands of space witch Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks).

Also there are aliens, robot dinosaurs, monsters made from pure gold etc. etc. All while the Power Rangers only get to don their iconic suits for a grand total of about 15 minutes; accompanied, of course, by Kanye West's 'Power' because whoever was mixing music here has bills to pay and zero f*cks left to give.

But, really, none of that matters. This is a movie about teenagers. Teenagers teenaging with the intensity of twenty CW shows. Yet, the thing that makes Power Rangers surprisingly loveable is that, for once, this movie might actually get what teenagers are about: the generation that's seen it all, received nothing but disdain, yet always finds a way to get its kicks. This is a film that's dripping with that same mix of world-weary irony and bare emotion that's come to characterise the modern adolescent experience.

The dialogue may be basic, but the half-smirk it's delivered with makes you unsure who exactly in the cast is or isn't messing with you, and it's great fun. Their first reaction to entering a giant spaceship in which Bryan Cranston's face (as Zordon) comes leering out of the walls is to comment, “Is this a joke?” Because, in the badlands of 2017, you can never be quite sure whether what you're experiencing is all just some kind of elaborate YouTube prank or not.

Power Rangers' saviour is its own knowingness, its own touch of self-reflective cynicism; though the key here is that it never launches itself into the full meta-attack we've come to expect in a post-Deadpool era. The makings of cult adoration lie in that little touch of sincerity, which is why this film can get away with Elizabeth Banks standing in the middle of a town square screaming, “KRISPY KREME?!?”

Power Rangers - Trailer

In fact, the film's use of said doughnut haven perfectly exemplifies this attitude, being both the most blatant – and also strangely effective – product placement Hollywood's seen in a fairly long time. All because it commits to the practice with the kind of side eye to its own shamelessness that sees Banks plainly call the establishment “the source of life”. And, thus, a meme was born.

A lot of the pre-release press for the film has focused on the diversity of the team in terms of race, sexuality, and in representing those on the autism spectrum. There are plenty of discussions to be hand on how effective, or progressive, each of these representations plays out; yet, what's most keenly felt about these new Power Rangers is how much they capture a certain mentality.

The new kind of millennial cool in which compassion, understanding, and openness are the most desired of traits (what they made fun of in 21 Jump Street, basically); where the team finds itself led by a, for lack of a better word, 'woke jock' who stands up for his classmates and tries to initiate campfire sharing lessons.

And, as cheesy or patronising as that may inevitably come off to some, there's also something wonderful about it. In an era where people do nothing but denigrate teenagers as the death of all goodness, selfie-loving snowflakes, or whatever label de jour the adults are throwing around, it's nice to see a mainstream film actually believe in the capabilities of its intended audience. Or, at least, to retort to the generation above, as said woke jock remarks, “Oh, because you were so successful last time”.

Power Rangers is out now.

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