This Power Rangers Ninja Steel review contains spoilers.
Power Rangers Ninja Steel Episode 13
Power Rangers is horrifically out of touch in every way possible. While other kids shows are breaking new ground with serialized stories (see Steven Universe) or taking episodic kids TV to new heights (see We Bare Bears) Power Rangers is stuck under a rock.
It refuses to acknowledge TV for kids (and TV in general) has evolved in the twenty-four years since the series debuted. Yes, the series seemingly figured out how to have an actual conflict in its story (that being Calvin bails on his friends to hang out with the cool kids) but it still feels painfully dated. We’ve seen this lesson a million times and it was done better in every single case.
Hell, Power Rangers has done it WAY better before. “Idol”, which is to my mind one of the greatest episodes of Power Rangers ever, took a serious look at Sky’s devotion to an old friend and how far he was willing to let his shady behavior slide. You only met Dru that episode but they still did the work to make his and Sky’s relationship feel real. Here? Calvin fawns over some 50’s greasers for no discernable reason.
Why would he do this? Why are “Ace and the crew” the cool kids? This is another example of Power Rangers living under a rock. They couldn’t think of ANYTHING more modern to reference for these “racer” characters? Maybe in the 90’s doing a Grease reference would have been fine and kind of fun for the parents in the audience. Now it’s just dated.
Why not reference say…. Fast and the Furious? That’s a thing kids might know! They sell toys of it in stores right near Power Rangers. Hell, Power Rangers has gone out of its way to reference the Fast and Furious franchise before. In Power Rangers RPM they shot for shot recreated the final race from the first Fast and Furious movie. (No, seriously. SpeedRacerFlubber pointed this out and it’s amazing.)
That’s a pop culture reference that wasn’t dated and didn’t detract from the story.
Here? Eh, whatever. 50’s greasers! That’s totally a thing you’d see out and about in a regular American high school. Does no one behind the scenes watch current TV or movies? Are they ONLY comparing themselves to 90’s MMPR? Why aren’t they trying to step up their game?
It’s so odd because for a minute Power Rangers seemed to be doing that. At the start of Dino Charge we had continuing conflict between characters. Shelby and Kendall’s arguments felt real. Shelby wanted Kendall to take her seriously. It’s simple and effective. Yeah, the conflict kinda petered out but I’ll take that over Brody and Levi being put under a spell for no reason.
Why did they devote so much time to that? What was the point? Why not spend more time actually making “Ace and the crew” believable people instead of outdated references to a 70’s movie sending up 50’s culture?
Again, comparing Power Rangers to Power Rangers, “A Ranger Among Thieves” also did a great job setting up a new group of characters for a Ranger to bounce off. Those thieves didn’t need to be dressed like Danny Zuko. They looked like 90’s teenagers. This isn’t hard!
Ninja Steel just doesn’t work. From the big details to the little ones (seriously, why did it take so long for Victor to change back) it just feels lazy. Power Rangers needs to take some time and look at its competition. Take some ideas. Reference something modern. While the AHHHNOOLLLLDDD voice was fun, it also felt dated. Why not try and sound like Vin Diesel? He even kind of made a joke about family! IT’S RIGHT THERE.
Stop living in the 90’s and update your sensibilities about everything.
Sorry for the late review, Shamus Kelley was on vacation with his FAM-A-LEEEEEEE. Follow him on Twitter!