“Saban’s Power Rangers”

Susan Granger’s review of “Saban’s Power Rangers” (Lionsgate Films)

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Nostalgic fans of its namesake sci-fi show propel this live-action film’s intended audience, whose memories stretch back to the 1990s Fox Kids series, adapted by Haim Saban from “Super Sentai’ on Japanese TV.

Revolving around superheroes in color-coded costumes, this origin story begins with a prehistoric flashback revealing that the original Power Rangers were humanoid-looking extraterrestrials who, led by Zordon (Bryan Cranston), arrived on Earth millions of years ago to defend the planet from a power-hungry alien invader, Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks).

When a meteor strike annihilates most of them, along with the dinosaurs, Zordon’s consciousness is loaded into their spacecraft’s computer system by his loyal android, Alpha 5 (Bill Hader).

More than 60 million years later in a rural California town called Angel Grove, nerdy Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler) discovers a mysterious energy source hidden in an underground cave in a nearby mountainside.

He’s joined by four other angst-riddled high-school delinquents: disgraced quarterback Jason (Dacre Montgomery), loner Zack (Ludi Lin), ostracized cheerleader/gymnast Kimberly (Naomi Scott) and sullen, sexually-conflicted Trini (the singer Becky G).

What they unearth are mysteriously glowing medallions that enhance their speed, strength and agility. It’s all great fun until they realize their real purpose.

That’s revealed when they find Zordon’s buried spaceship and encounter Alpha 5, who observes “Different colors! Different kids! Different-colored kids!”

In the meantime, evil Rita Repulsa returns, determined to steal the Zeo Crystal that’s buried below a Krispy Kreme store. So the ethnically diverse teenagers must – somewhat tediously – train to morph into a cohesive team to thwart her global ambitions.

Superficially scripted by John Gatins and chaotically directed by Dean Israelite (“Project Almanac”), it contains lots of folklore from the original series, little Easter eggs (inside jokes), along with reprising the “Go Go Power Rangers” theme.

FYI: Previously, there were two dreadful cinematic incarnations: “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie” (1995) and “Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie” (1997).

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Saban’s Power Rangers” is a slick yet silly 6, scheming for franchise possibilities.

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