A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Power Rangers is the big-screen reboot of the hugely popular '90s TV show about a team of teen superheroes who are imbued with powers from ancient crystal coins. Unlike earlier takes on the characters, this movie amps up the violence and features strong language and mature themes (teen substance use, juvenile detention, cyberbullying, questions about sexual identity, and more). So even though it might appeal to young elementary-aged kids, it's far better suited for middle-schoolers and up. There's mass destruction, with a relatively high body count, as well as injuries, crashes, fights, and more. On the language front, characters use words like "s--t" and "ass," as well as one "motherf" that's purposely cut short. Subtle hints at potential romance include longing looks and flirting, and there are references to how someone digitally shared a student's inappropriate photo. Positive messages mirror those of the original series: teamwork, courage, training, sacrifice, and trust.
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What's the story?
POWER RANGERS opens 65 million years ago, with Red Ranger Zordon (Bryan Cranston) sacrificing himself to ensure that villain Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) can't take hold of Earth's Zeo Crystal. Zordon also releases the five Power Coins to find those "who are worthy" to be the next five Power Rangers crew. Fast forward to the present, when Angel Grove High's former golden-boy quarterback Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) has to go to Saturday detention for his entire senior year due to a team prank gone wrong. There, he meets tech-savvy Billy (RJ Cyler) and angry ex-cheerleader Kimberly (Naomi Scott). The trio ends up at a mine, where Billy uncovers brightly colored crystal coins. Two other teens -- Trini (Becky G.) and Zack (Ludi Lin) -- are also present for the discovery, and, as each kid takes one coin as their own, they team up and attempt to avoid police pursuit. The next morning, the team of misfit teens realizes that instead of dying in a car accident, they're alive and healed, with inexplicable super-strength. After returning to the site of their discovery, they find an underwater space ship where an android, Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader), and the trapped spirit of Zordon explain that they must train to become the Power Rangers -- but first they must morph. If they can't morph, they won't be able to fight Rita, who's come back to life and plans to find the Zeo Crystal and destroy Earth in the process.
Is it any good?
Except for a couple of standout performances, this reboot takes itself too seriously and is too unevenly executed for a property that originally delighted in campy silliness. The goofy cornball antics that might have worked for a seemingly never-ending after-school show weren't going to cut it, but the story goes too far in the other direction, offering audiences four angst-filled, troubled teens and one sweet tech genius who happens to be on the autism spectrum. Kudos to the director for casting a diverse lot to play the Rangers (even Alpha 5 jokes: "different colors, different kids, different-colored kids" when they meet him for the first time). But unfortunately, it's a toss-up from scene to scene whether the acting and screenwriting will be heartfelt, decent, or downright cringe-worthy.
As Billy, the Blue Ranger, Cyler is the team's heart -- earnest, logical, and incapable of sarcasm or artifice. Looking like a cross between a young Zac Efron and Channing Tatum, Montgomery is a natural fit as the QB-turned team leader. The other three teens have less to do, with Trini's backstory being both confusing and insufficient (what teen isn't somewhat misunderstood by their parents?). At least Banks is hilariously campy as Rita (who could even take that name seriously?). The movie aims for a Breakfast Club-meets-superhero origin story, but in the end it might be too long and too much for even nostalgic fans.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Power Rangers. Do you think it was necessary for the movie to be so violent/mature? How does that affect its appropriateness for the franchise's younger fans? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?
What's the difference between fantasy violence and the consequences of violence in real life? How can people express anger in other ways?
How does this version compare to previous takes on the Power Rangers? What's changed? Do you like the updates? Why or why not?
Would you like the new Power Rangers franchise to continue? If so, what original villain(s) should they fight next?
- In theaters: March 24, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: June 27, 2017
- Cast: Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks, Dacre Montgomery, RJ Cyler
- Director: Dean Israelite
- Studios: Lionsgate, Saban Films
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Run time: 124 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, language, and for some crude humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.