There’s a generation of teen influencers walking among us who will see the newest Power Rangers reboot with fresh eyes. They’re Rita Repulsa rookies, novices in the ways of morphin’. This new Power Rangers leans into this freshness: This is the most millennial movie about superhero millennials your millennial eyes will ever see. Power Rangers invests a lot of effort into making sure these five troubled teens are demographically appealing in exactly the right ways. The jokes are dirtier (this movie’s first joke is about accidentally giving a cow a hand job), the language is ballsier (Blue Ranger almost gets out one full “yippee ki yay motherfucker!”), and there are ultrahip references at every turn. How millennial is it? Let us count the ways.
Concerns about “selling out” are so Gen-X. Millennials are all about that sponsored content. In fact, you should probably just assume that everything you see a young person doing — even living in an apartment — is #sponcon these days. Accordingly, this Power Rangers adventure has been very obviously brought to you by Krispy Kreme. The movie’s entire third act is one long, glossy commercial for those glazed doughnuts. Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) is after a sacred ancient crystal that will allow her to destroy all life on Earth, and it just happens to be buried beneath a certain global confectionery chain. The subsequent battle involves plenty of screen time for the brand’s logo, as well as one lingering shot of Banks absolutely savoring a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Don Draper himself couldn’t have come up with a better ad.
To appeal to a generation busy binge-watching Ryan Murphy anthologies, a wink and nod at overdone absurdity is a given. Power Rangers introduces its teen-titan saga with a scene of unabashed camp. The movie’s opening takes place in what a helpful chyron informs us is 65 million B.C.; it sees a wounded Zordon (Bryan Cranston) battling Rita Repulsa while done up in blue makeup that makes him look like a rich man’s Tobias Fünke. It’s incredibly silly, but Cranston sells it with an admirable commitment that only makes the scene feel even more ridiculous.
After one particularly harsh experience, our heroes are left despondent near the active mine they hang out in. Instead of heading their separate ways, they decide to make a fire and spend the night together in the woods, where they bond by sharing their deepest darkest secrets. It’s a moment so utterly corny and so utterly sincere that it seems to come straight out of your high-school classmate’s Instagram page.
During that bonding session, Pink Ranger Kimberly (Naomi Scott) refuses to spill her secret. It’s too shameful! A few scenes later, we learn what it is: She was a mean girl with enough snarl to give Blair Waldorf a run for her crown. Teen dramas give their bullies teeth now — no more scrawled rumors on bathroom walls — and Kimberly’s crime is a doozy. Instead of shoving an underling or manipulating a game of Seven Minutes in Heaven, Kimberly leaked her bestie’s nude pics! The infamy!
Unh. Ayyye. Unh. Ayyye. Every movie gets the Kanye song it deserves — Wolf of Wall Street had “Black Skinhead,” The Girl on the Train had “Heartless,” Great Gatsby had “No Church in the Will”— and Power Rangers capitalizes on the MBDF song that shares its name, pulling 30 seconds of “Power” for its third-act fight scene. If only they’d also gotten the rights to “Gold Digger” for our buddy Goldar, the monster-sized gold-blooded being controlled by Rita Repulsa.
One Thing That’s Missing: Rose Quartz
This generation of rangers might be written for millennials, but they weren’t designed up by them. The tell: Pink Ranger’s pink. I regret to inform you that — stunningly — it’s not the trendy rose quartz. Her super-suit lands somewhere between mauve and sometimes even (gasp) lavender, depending on the scene’s grim lighting. Excuse me, Lionstage? Did you miss Glossier pink and Thinx pink? Have none of you dined at one of the handful of entirely pink restaurants around the globe? Luckily, there’s room for improvement: The movie’s post-credits scene teases the imminent arrival of Tommy Oliver, better known as the Green Ranger. And do you know what Pantone’s color of 2017 is? That’s right — Greenery. Maybe they do know what they’re doing after all.