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Power Rangers

In the 1990s, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers became a delightfully camp staple of children's TV, introducing young audiences (and excitable parents) to colour-coded teenage heroes from the sleepy California community of Angel Grove. This fast-paced reboot invites a good-looking and ethnically diverse new cast to suit up and revisit the origins of the titular characters. Power Rangers is a rollicking romp that falls short of the narrative sophistication of the Marvel and DC Comics film adaptations, but Dean Israelite's family-friendly fantasy is a blast during its overinflated set pieces as the eponymous squad faces off against a wicked witch and her army of stone golems. Israelite traversed similar territory in his previous film, Project Almanac, and he injects nervous energy into every frame. A police chase is shot in a single take through the lens of a perpetually rotating camera inside the lead vehicle as it skids through traffic. Touchstones of the series are present and largely correct: character names, robot sidekick Alpha 5's exclamation of excitement "Ai yi yiiii", and the Go Go Power Rangers earworm that roars as Rangers gallop into battle inside their monstrous mechanical Zords. The script moves with the times by adding LGBQT issues to the characters' growing pains and pointedly addresses racial stereotyping when Alpha 5 surveys the cast and quips, "Different colours, different kids - different coloured kids!" Diabolical sorceress Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) was once the Green Ranger, but she betrayed her friends and has been frozen in time for 65 million years in her quest to locate the powerful Zeo Crystal. In order to protect the universe from a newly reanimated Rita, the next generation of Power Rangers must come forth. A ragtag group of spunky, authority-flouting teenagers, comprising star quarterback Jason (Dacre Montgomery), cheerleader Kimberly (Naomi Scott), science nerd Billy (RJ Cyler), new girl Trini (Becky G) and devoted son Zack (Ludi Lin), is chosen to wear the costumes of the Red, Pink, Blue, Yellow and Black Ranger respectively. Guided by their holographic mentor Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and his robotic assistant Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader), the Power Rangers hone their abilities as they prepare for intergalactic war in between finishing class assignments and chores. Power Rangers is too simplistic to curry favour with savvy teenagers, who bow down at the altars of The Avengers and Guardians Of The Galaxy, but for the young, it's a hyperkinetic joyride augmented with solid digital effects. Banks savours her moments of pantomime villainy and sinks her teeth into the shameless product placement of baked goods that hopefully accounted for a decent slice of the picture's rumoured 100 million US dollar budget. Ai yi yiiii indeed. A bonus scene, fashionably secreted in the end credits, tees up the arrival of another Ranger in a sequel.