For many, the “Power Rangers” franchise isn’t just back in theaters, it’s also bringing a ton of nostalgia with it. However, fans know that the Rangers never left. This property that was spawned from Japan’s “Super Sentai” shows has maintained a cult popularity with its core audience since the first episode aired in 1993. There has been 24 seasons (with 20 different casts) and 2 feature films since that time! There is even an annual Power Rangers Convention in Pasadena called Power Morphicon.
Anyways, if you’re not one of the diehards and need a little encouragement to go see this fun flick, we’ve got 15 convincing reasons why you should. From stunning effects and sci-fi designs to laugh-out-loud humor and a solid plot, this film is much better than people are expecting.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the “Power Rangers” movie.
15. THE TONE-SETTING INTRO
The opening scene of this movie really gave us an idea of what to expect not only from the rest of the film, but also the franchise going forward. When we see the last Rangers perish in this scene, it becomes clear that this is a more grounded and aged up take on the intellectual property. This intro redefines the origins of the Rangers and sets the bleaker tone all within a few minutes. We find out Zordon was a former Red Ranger who was killed, that Rita is a renegade Green Ranger and that their final showdown occurred on Earth during the Cenozoic period. We will talk more about each of those details in separate entries.
To be frank, this film seems to have taken a big cue from the “Power/Rangers” short (from Adi Shankar’s Bootleg Universe) by starting at the end of an epic Power Rangers battle with a Ranger dying. While many loved the fan film starring James Van der Beek and Katee Sackhoff, most of the content was definitely too “mature” for Saban’s top franchise.
14. SPECTACULAR CAR CRASHES
We’re not sure why a “Power Rangers” movie had multiple blockbuster car crashes, but we’re not complaining. Right after the awesome intro, we see Jason trying to pull a high school prank. When the whole episode starts to go sideways and the cops come, he bails in his truck. As the Red Ranger-to-be barrels down residential side streets, he loses control and hits a row of parked cars. The way the ensuing collision is filmed from all angles, it really gives you a sense of the speed and impact. Jason must have secretly figured out how to morph because he shouldn’t have made it out of that one without the need of a wheelchair or coffin.
Later, when the police respond to an explosion caused by Billy, Jason once again thinks it’s a good idea to hop behind the wheel and evade the authorities. While he manages to collect all of his fellow Rangers without actually stopping the vehicle, the great escape only lasts a couple more seconds before they careen off the side of the road. The five teens wake up the next morning with no recollection of how they made it home alive.
13. POP CULTURE REFERENCES
This movie knows who its audience is, so there is a couple of nods and references to various other massive fandoms. Upon the teens’ first visit to the Command Center, Billy asks the others, “Are we more like Iron Man or Spider-Man?” Good question considering the new suits look somewhere between tech armor and superhero spandex. However, it’s strange that this movie shows Marvel love rather than DC because the Power Rangers are currently in the middle of a crossover comic miniseries with Justice League. In fact, this is the only time the Power Rangers have ever done a crossover in the comics. Although, some may remember that Toei (the company behind Super Sentai) teamed up with Marvel for a Japanese Spider-Man show in the ‘70s.
Next up, we get a playful nod to the “Transformers” movie franchise when Jason uses his T-Rex Zord to kick a yellow Mustang at Goldar. As he’s booting the roadster, he says, “Sorry Bumblebee.” Ha. The last pop culture reference we thought was worth mentioning here is when Billy first gets into his Zord and he exclaims “Yippie kiyay mother…” but stops himself from finishing the classic “Diehard” line because he doesn’t swear.
12. THE HUMOR
When the filmmakers here follow up their intense and sombre opening scene with a joke about accidentally milking a male cow, you know they aren’t trying to make this Nolan-dark. The laughs balance the teen drama that is part and parcel of this franchise and make it palatable. The one gag that starts funny but gets old quick is the Krispy Kreme bit. What should have just been a funny product placement, ended up making the movie feel a little like “Rita & Goldar Go To Krispy Kreme.”
The above picture is when all the Rangers have jumped into a cave and noticed that they are glowing with the color of their coins. Zack declares, “I’m black.” And Billy immediately retorts, “No, you’re not!” It’s a funny joke but even funnier when you consider how on the nose it was that the original Black Ranger was a black guy. Speaking of which…
11. BREAKING STEREOTYPES
As we said above, in the original North American version of “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” the Black Ranger was actually played by African-American actor Walter Jones and the Yellow Ranger was Vietnamese actress Thuy Trang (R.I.P.). You know that is not going to fly in 2017.
This movie does a 360 on a bunch of stereotypes. Zack (Black Ranger) is played by Chinese actor Ludi Lin in this reboot, but he’s not typecast as the smart, geeky one. Instead, he’s a loner adrenaline junkie who lives in a trailer park. Trini (Yellow Ranger) is a heavy metal-listening, tai chi practitioner in this film and yet is played by Mexican-American pop singer/actress Becky G. Billy is played by African-American thespian R.J. Cyler in this version, but he is still the nerd from the original show…and he digs country music. He’s also clearly on the autism spectrum, but not in a way that’s insulting or demeaning. They even flip up the perception that gingers get bullied by having a red-haired lad play Billy’s bully.
10. THE BREAKFAST CLUB/GOONIES VIBE
This new spin on the Power Rangers avoids the camp of its predecessors by taking inspiration from coming of age films from the ‘80s. There is something about tween/teen flicks from that era that was genuine and relatable, and today’s TV and film industry are looking to replicate the formula. “Stranger Things,” anyone?
While we can’t be sure without confirmation from the director or writer, “Power Rangers” seems to borrow its “Saturday morning detention” and “divergent group of outcasts” elements from the John Hughes’ classic “The Breakfast Club” (1985). Sure, they don’t all meet in detention, but the similarities between the two films is evident. Does Saturday morning detention even still exist? Also, the way this group of teens finds a mysterious ship in a cave reeks of “The Goonies” (1985). Lastly, the vibe of the Acadia mine’s mountainous location and train tracks is reminiscent of “Stand By Me” (1986).
9. HORROR ELEMENTS
“Power Rangers” started as, and always has been, a kid’s show. While a whole generation has grown up with the Rangers, it continues to garner young fans with each new live action show that hits the air. The most recent iteration, “Power Rangers Ninja Steel,” just started in January. Therefore, it makes sense that the villains have never been very scary. You would be hard pressed to find even an elementary schooler who finds the ’93 Rita Repulsa to be the least bit frightening.
Well, it’s 2017 and everything gets the “darker, more realistic” treatment these days. Therefore, they made Rita less a cackling witch and more a cold, obsessive alien. It’s more akin to something out of a Japanese horror movie than a children’s program. The fishing boat scene where Rita kills the cop and and the scene when she pays Trini a visit at home in the middle of the night both ran a shiver up our spine.
8. PUTTY PATROL
The Putty Patrol in this film are exactly the kind of expendable foot soldiers any supervillain needs. They can be produced anywhere and in endless numbers. Their design is definitely a big step up from the spandex clad actors in the original show and this iteration of the minions actually pack a punch. We especially liked the Putties toward the end of the film that have street signs and other detritus in their make up.
The Putty Patrol in the ’93 series were about as effective as the Separatist Battle Droids in “Star Wars.” So, the fact these new four-armed, elemental henchmen give our Rangers a run for their money is probably the biggest difference between the two. Well, that and the original Putties were made out of (as the name suggest) putty. In the show, Rita’s mad scientist, Finster, created them with a monster-making machine that could mass-produce Putties, as well as more formidable creatures.
7. ALPHA 5
Zordon’s robot assistant has always been one of the more campy, corny aspects of the original series. However, there is no denying his look is iconic. The exotic alien take on the character in this film is bit of a hot button topic for fans. Some love it, some spew fire on message boards about it.
We thought it was a great 2017 reinvention of the annoying bot. We dig how they smoothed out Alpha 5’s chunkiness (much like they did with the Megazord) and added the antenna eyes. It makes him look almost crab-like. Obviously, the main element they kept was his flying saucer head, but he also retains his slinky limbs (which can actually extend here). Aside from all of that, it was Alpha’s cheeky personality that endeared him to our hearts in this film. Fun fact: Comedian Bill Hader, who voices Alpha in this new “Power Rangers” movie, also helped voice BB-8 in “The Force Awakens.”
6. ZORDON & RITA BACKSTORY
Logic was not a top priority in the “Super Sentai” shows that “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” is based on (and used footage from). As a result, Zordon and Rita Repulsa having layered backstories with complex relationships was not on the cards. However, in this day and age, audiences expect more than moustache twirling baddies and squeaky clean good guys.
As we mentioned in the first entry, the intro informs us that Zordon led a former group of Power Rangers that battled Rita until the last one of them dropped. Then Zordon reveals Rita was once the Green Ranger of their team. Whoa! Alpha 5 also tells the new Rangers that he saved Zordon’s consciousness in their ship’s computer when he died battling the renegade Rita. These story alterations not only change these characters’ origins but also makes their motives much more relatable. Not to mention, it’s perfect that Rita was the former Green Ranger here because she created the Green Ranger in the show.
The original Goldar was an upright ape with wings and he was based on the Wicked Witch’s flying monkeys from “The Wizard of Oz.” The only attributes that version and the new Goldar have in common are the wings, an affinity for gold and both could be enlarged. He did have a golden sword in the show as well, however it wasn’t one he could grow out of himself. That was pretty slick. One clear nod to the interaction between Rita and Goldar in the original series is when she yells, “Make my monster grow!” before he increases in size exponentially.
This new Goldar seems heavily inspired by the current North American kaiju craze. Which is not a bad thing, taking into account the Power Rangers’ Toei roots. He is a monolithic, molten gold god of death in this film, but is also reduced to being a mindless minion like Rita’s Putty Patrollers. In the ’93 show, he could speak and even talked back to Rita on occasion.
While it was just cool to kids that the original Power Rangers had robot dinosaurs, there wasn’t much of an explanation as to why. In this reimagining, we start in the Cenozoic period and are later told by Alpha 5 that the Zords base their form on the mightiest beasts of a planet when they arrive. It is basically Dinobot logic but it facilitates the story. Fans have raised concerns about the extra legs on the Mastodon and Triceratops Zords, but director Dean Israelite has assured fans that the addition of the limbs was to create “more nimble machine(s).”
In the initial show, the Zords got very little screen time and were largely just set up for the Megazord (and merchandising). Therefore, nobody is complaining that they get shown some proper love here. The scene where the Pink Ranger’s flying Zord drops the Blue Ranger’s Tricertops like a bomb on Goldar is on par with anything in “Transformers” or “Pacific Rim.”
When images leaked of the new Megazord toy, fans thought an essential part of this franchise’s mythology had been marred. Turns out, things are not so bad. The giant robo here doesn’t have the chunky look of the original, but it does have the familiar head crest and horns. In this more grounded approach to the Power Rangers, a massive sword called down from space wouldn’t really fit but we think the twin blades it carries on its back are an acceptable replacement. Plus, this combination of Dinozords looks so big that it could eat Jaegers for breakfast!
We will admit that it was a missed opportunity to not show the Zords combining. Just like with Transformers or Voltron combining into one, it’s something we expect to see. Furthermore, when the Zords connect in this film, the Rangers all stay in their own cockpits. In the old-school show, they all ended up in the same control room when the Megazord was formed. It reinforced the teamwork message the show was pushing.
2. ORIGINAL POWER RANGERS EASTER EGGS
There are quite a few easter eggs here so we are going to skip over the obvious ones like the use of the theme and the catchphrase “It’s Morphin’ Time.” The best fan service here is the cameo at the end by the original Pink and Green Rangers, actors Amy Jo Johnson and Jason David Frank. It is also satisfying when Billy wears his trademark headband during their training. Lastly, when Jason’s dad is driving through town during the Goldar attack, he calls in the emergency. He gives his location as “the corner of Mariner Bay and Reefside.” These are both cities in “Power Rangers” lore where future Ranger teams are from, Mariner Bay being the home of the Lightspeed Rescue Rangers, while Reefside is the home of the Dino Thunder Rangers.
Now, it’s not exactly an easter egg, but the Zeo crystal that plays such a key role in this film was important in the original series too. The powerful artifact became a focal point of “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” Season 3, and Season 4 was even renamed “Power Rangers Zeo.”
1. AFTER-CREDITS SCENE
The after-credits scene takes place in the same Saturday morning detention hall that Billy and Jason became friends in. The teacher is doing roll call and shouts out, “Tommy Oliver.” This is, of course, the Power Ranger that “MMPR” fans everywhere want to see next. In the original series, Rita made Tommy the Green Ranger and sent him to neutralize Zordon and the Rangers. He demolishes the Command Centre, gives Alpha 5 a computer virus and takes down the entire Ranger line-up single-handedly. Then he switches sides after the Rangers free him of Rita’s mind control.
A couple things that make Tommy everybody’s favorite Ranger: his Zord is a dragon that resembles Mechagodzilla and on top of the standard Ranger uniform, he also had the Dragon Shield (a breastplate worn on top of his costume). He has also represented four different colors and been five distinct types of Ranger: Green, White, Zeo Red, Turbo Red and Dino Thunder Black. On top of all this, he led all the past Rangers in “Legendary War,” the “Super Megaforce” finale that had literally every Power Ranger ever take part in one massive battle against evil.
Do you prefer the “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” movie of the ’90s or the 2017 reboot film? Tell us which is your favorite in the comments!
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