The pros and cons of a new Power Rangers movie

Feature Pete Dillon-Trenchard 8 May 2014 - 06:15

There's a movie reboot of the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers coming. But is it a good idea, ponders Pete...?

There was a period during the 1990s when it was impossible to avoid the unstoppable juggernaut that was the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. I never even tried; my walls were full of posters of the spandex-clad superheroes, my Christmas list was full of robot toys my parents never had a hope of buying, and my stomach was full of whatever food I’d managed to slip into the shopping trolley because it had the Power Rangers logo on it that week.

It is an understatement, then, to say that I was rather excited by yesterday’s news that Saban Brands has teamed with Lionsgate to produce a new Power Rangers movie for the 21st century. But is this going to be a good thing, or should the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, along with Vanilla Ice and shell suits, remain firmly in the 90s where they belong? Although we imagine it’ll be some time before we actually know anything about the upcoming film, here’s a few of the cases for and against…

For: The theme song

Even if you can’t remember anything else about the show, chances are you remember its incredibly catchy theme song. Composed by Ron Wasserman, aka ‘Aaron Waters and the Mighty RAW,’ the tune remains one of the all-time classic kids’ TV themes, so much so that it has been re-adopted by the franchise for the most recent seasons on television. As such, it’s hard not to imagine it getting a big screen outing courtesy of some big rock band of the day. ‘Go Go Power Rangers’ by Kings of Leon for Christmas number one, anybody?

Against: The paper-thin plots

Even the most ardent Power Rangers fan will, if pushed, admit that the storylines on the show often didn’t amount to much more than ‘Slapstick, fight, costumed fight, robot fight, slapstick, credits,’ particularly in its early seasons. Power Rangers followed in the grand tradition of He-Man and Transformers in that it was an unashamed cash grab on the part of Saban, designed to sell the many wondrous and colourful toys which accompanied the series; each episode contained several minutes of repeated footage featuring the teenagers using their power morphers or power weapons, or forming their Megazord - all of which were available in your local Toys ‘R’ Us for as long as it took for desperate parents to empty the shelves.

For: The potential

Oh, but what toys they were. The scant information contained in the press release suggests that the upcoming film will return to the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers series, which had at its heart giant robot dinosaurs. Only the most hardened cynic can fail to get excited by that prospect. But leaving the toys aside, Power Rangers was at its core the story of five teenagers recruited to fight in a war between good and evil that was being waged thousands of years before they were born, in whole different part of the galaxy. Give the bare bones of that mythology to the right screenwriter, have them flesh out the rangers into true characters thrown into a battle they didn’t start, and there’s no reason why this film can’t enchant a whole new generation.

Against: There have been two films already

Believe it or not, this will be the third Power Rangers film. The first, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, was released in 1995 and was a modest hit despite lukewarm reviews and a plot which set it apart from the continuity of the series. The second, Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, fared less well at the box office (in those regions where it saw a cinema release at all) and was critically panned. Though the first film at least is held in the hearts of fans for nostalgia reasons, both films struggled to capture the magic of the television series - in both films the team spends the majority of the time out of costume, and giant fighting robot action is limited to five minutes at the end, presumably for budgetary reasons. It’s hard not to see those and feel a little sceptical about the new project.

For: Times have changed

Arguably, there has never been a better time for a Power Rangers film. In the show’s 21-year history, there have been three mainstays of the Power Rangers franchise: teenage leads, brightly-coloured superhero outfits, and giant robot battles. And in the 90s, it never felt as though the film studios involved were willing to commit to at least two of those things - the first movie was originally to have featured ranger costumes without visors, as the execs didn’t think people would be interested if the audience couldn’t see the actors’ faces.

Fast forward twenty years and not only are we seeing a resurgence in teen-led fantasy movies with the likes of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, but superhero films are a completely different prospect to what they were in 1993; slowly but surely, comic book heroes like Spider-Man and the Avengers have been embraced by cinemagoers, without having to be grounded and realistic. Heck, we’re getting a Guardians Of The Galaxy movie! Couple this with the success of last year’s Pacific Rim, and the hype surrounding Godzilla, and it feels as though people are ready to embrace the power.

Against: The fashion

I’m no fashion expert, but I’m not sure any of this was acceptable in the 90s, and it’s certainly not acceptable now.

For: 20 years of history to draw from

Whilst the logical assumption is that the new film will be a straight reboot of the original show, there’s no shortage of stories and characters to choose from in the show’s twenty-year continuity if they decide to go in a different direction. The most obvious choices would of course be the mighty green ranger and the monstrous Lord Zedd, but fast forward and perhaps they might want to use the evil Machine Empire? Or the human space colony based on the space colony Terra Venture? What about the ghastly Psycho Rangers? Or the Time Force Power Rangers from the year 3000? Actually, why not just bring in EVERY POWER RANGER EVER and have them involved in the war to end all wars..?

Against: With great continuity comes great responsibility

It is my experience that the majority of people over the age of ten are not well-versed in Power Rangers lore. As such, very few adults will be going into the film with more than a vague recollection from their own childhood. And the children, the film’s target audience, weren’t born for the majority of the show’s run. This means that more than the slightest whiff of continuity will leave the audience scratching their heads at best, and bolting for the door at worst.

Sadly it also means that original series actor Jason David Frank’s dreams of a solo film starring him as a middle-aged green ranger (He’s previously described his character as the Wolverine of the Power Rangers franchise) will likely be dashed - although this hasn’t stopped him from taking credit for the new film. By all means, bring the old stars in for a cameo - it worked beautifully in 21 Jump Street - but for the new film to be the franchise-starter they’re hoping for, it needs to be a full reboot - keeping it iconic, but accessible. If they choose to bring in too much of the show’s baggage, it could be the last we see of them.

For: It’s morphin’ time!

The reaction on social media has shown that, if nothing else, Power Rangers is a show which still holds a special place in the hearts of people of a certain age. There are still far too many variables to be determined at the moment, and we’re looking forward to finding out more, but if Lionsgate manage to find a writer and director who really understand the franchise and its potential, and if it spends the right amount of money in the right ways, then a new Power Rangers movie could be something very special - nay, morphenomenal - indeed.

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My 12 year old self has one request. White, not green.

"why not just bring in EVERY POWER RANGER EVER and have them involved in the war to end all wars..?" Ummm, because that's the finale for Power Rangers Super Megaforce.

Point taken to an extent, but everything that's come out suggests that's going to be more of a cameo than anything else - the handful of previous actors they did get in were only involved in two days of filming... Plus it wouldn't really compare to a feature film version of the same thing ;) But really it was there to help make my next point, as much as anything!

I preferred the Green Ranger, what was his robot called?

Dragonzord!

(I mainly just really wanted to shout Dragonzord then.)

cons: It will be sh!t.
pros: You don't have to watch it.

Why will it automatically be rubbish?

Aha - thats the bugger thank you! Ddnt the Green Ranger have some kind of Dagger/ blade type contraption that doubled up as a flute used to some Dragonzord!

Pros: It's the Power Rangers.

Cons: It's the Power Rangers.

RE: Wafer thin plots. It's saying something that I always liked the multi-part stories, mainly because they broke away from the formula and managed to have time to do something different with the story. Green With Evil comes to mind - in fact many that dealt with Tommy...

Con: Now I have that god awful Shampoo song in my head

There is already a 'new-ish' Power Ranger film out (if you speak Japanese of course) It came out a few years ago to celebrate 35 years of Power Rangers / Super Sentai on television on Japan. Its called 'Gokaiger Goseiger Super Sentai 199 Hero Great Battle' - Its one of many Super Sentai films that have been made and this most recent one is based on Gokaiger Goseiger (aka Power - Rangers Megaforce) and made about 3 million dollars at the box-office. The best part about the movie is that it has nearly all the Rangers/Super Sentai from all 35 seasons featured in it in some way, along with all the weapons, monsters and Zords

That'd be this. I can hum the tune for you if you like?

I love Gokaiger, but that film really made the case both for and against having them all team up...

The multi-part stories were often brilliant (or felt that way as kids). Suddenly, things weren't resolved at the end of the half hour, and you didn't know how long before things would be safe again (and those arcs could have a huge impact on the show and the characters, particularly those dealing with Tommy, or big arcs like the Alien Rangers stuff). Stories like Green With Evil or The Green Candle really meant something, and that is important in any TV show, let alone a kids' show.

Parts of the Green With Evil miniseries really hold up. Unfortunately, it's still two or three episodes' worth of plot spread across five.

Mission Achieved Andy Dwyer Well Done

Rest assured, it was not impossible to avoid.

A fine instrument!!

... Green, and the he can turn into White in the sequel maybe? :D

I just really like the finale mash up of all the Zords against that massive monster - even at nearly 40 yrs old seeing robots kick monsters in the head is fantastic

I bet this decision was made after Pacific Rim was released.

Well, yes, but any given episode is only 6 minutes' worth of plot spread over 22, so it's not a big slow down ;)

But yeah, it probably only needed to be 3. But it did make it feel so very epic.

As long as Amy Jo Johnson is in it, I'm there!!!

Is that where (presumably) a lot of the footage for the Mega War is going to be lifted from then? Wish they'd hurry up & air it. Really enjoying Mega Force, although they possibly have the worst actor ever cast as the Red Ranger.

I say this as someone who enjoys the Power Rangers (I still watch them occasionally at summer, by myself because my little brother never liked them...): GET IT DONE.
Today, a lot of remakes turn out not that good or just bad because the new film tends to be all about flashy things instead of story or characters. Well, here they have the chance to go for the flashy things and getting it right. I don't think there is much you can't get wrong with PR.
I don't think continuity should be much of a problem... If they want to choose characters from different series, people who don't recognise them will just enjoy the fights and robots, and people who recognise them will enjoy. I remember that it took me a few episodes to notice Jason David Frank in Dino Thunder back in 2004, but I didn't feel lost before and once I got there I was truly happy about having Tommy in the show.
And yes, please, let Jason David Frank be in the film.

I've still got my fingers crossed for a middle aged Green Ranger movie starring Jason David Frank. He was my hero as a kid and these days he's just hilariously insane.

yup - cant say I like Megaforce or Super-Megaforce (apart from the pink ranger..hello nurse!) I cannot see why they didn't just make a new series based on the Pirate motif of Kaizoku Sentai show seems weird that they go from Megaforce to Pirates in the show for no reason and had a space-ship and now a pirate ship...seems a little forced (what i am I doing!!!...i'm critiquing power rangers..im a 40 yr old man FFS!)

Still looking forward to the up and coming Thomas the Tank Engine themed one

ONE WORD....... DREDD!

Really enjoyed this piece, Pete. Never really a fan of the show, but your sheer enthusiasm really shone through. Lovely read. X

It isn't a reboot, considering that they never stopped making the tv show.
It's just a new Power Rangers movie, with a new cast of Rangers.

Somebody probably already said this, but I'm 37 and I can't be bothered going through all the comments.
I'm old. I might die soon.
My time is better spent smacking my head against a wall at the news of a Lethal Weapon reboot.

It's a reboot of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers though. From what I've read they're using the original Power Rangers characters for this.

At the moment almost nothing is known, and I tried to convey that in the piece, but the press release does refer to it as 'Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers' and mention a 're-envisioning' of the series. I'd be shocked at this stage if they went for anything other than the iconic Mighty Morphin'/Zyuranger costumes, although the individual characters may be up for grabs.

It makes sense to go with MMPR as it's the one incarnation that's gonna get all those nostalgic 90s to drag their own kids to see it. Power Rangers might have carried on running all these years but MMPR is still the only one the none fans are likely to recognise. Personally I just want a fun film that captures what I love about Power Rangers.

I guess a cinematic reboot of the original franchise, introducing the characters again, could work... I guess...
(I'm still waiting for Joel Silver's Ben 10 movie!)
My then girlfriend took me to the cinema to see this when it came out.

The relationship didn't last; we also saw The Flinstones movie in the cinema....

I read "Harry Potter and the Hunger Games" as a single title then. Now I really want to read/watch that.

Even at the time of the first film I remember thinking it was a bit disappointing. That kid in it was really annoying and the Power Rangers spend the majority of the film without their powers/zords/etc.

If they do a film that is based on the original series, lots of Megazord action, sorted. Or it'll just be a juggernaut toy-selling machine that'll wreck any good memories you had of the old TV show... maybe Michael Bay will direct it.

The original 5 for the first, Green Ranger in the second, White for the third, trilogy written! Hope they get Michael Bay to direct it so it'll be truly ruined in blockbuster megabucks fashion.

I hated it then, I still think it's bad now. But if they throw money at it it could be as cool as pacific rim

I don't think a Power Rangers film is really aimed at us is it.

It's aimed at children under 10. So it's one big 'pro' for them with no 'cons'.

Yes but children over 21 who watched the show will see i5 in droves... myself included. So it needs to be good.

Not that this will happen... but Zack Snyder should direct it.

Well my 7 year old self says GREEN FTW!

Sentai do 3-4 films a year, every year to be fair.

as godawful as the show is, the latest season, Super Megaforce, will end on the battle involving all of the previous ranger teams vs aliens. I hold out a tiny bit of hope

My now adult kids loved this when they were younger, only the first or second generation of Rangers, then they got fed up with it. I can't believe it's still going. That first film, I watched it so many times with the kids I got to know it off by heart in the end... Seen enough power rangers to last at least 2 or 3 lifetimes, thank you :)

Harry would inevitably win despite not being trained, not knowing what was happening and accidentally allowing Katniss to die at the beginning of the third act.

as long as its the orignal cast expect trini becaue she passed away. and kim and tommy are together then i will be goin 2 see it and i'm 28. (No cathrine) didnt lyk her character at all

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