GO GO POWER RANGERS
The Legacy Continues!!!
Power Rangers started as Japanese television series back in the 80s and then thanks to the innovation of Haim Saban and Shuki Levy, made its way to the United States translated and re-dubbed. It broke onto tv screens on Fox Kids (one of the kings of Saturday morning cartoons aka the good old days) in 1993. From Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to now Power Rangers Ninja Steel 24 years later and two films, Power Rangers has traveled the Morphing Grid from generation to generation, wowing kids all over the world.
Five teenagers with attitudes were chosen by cosmic leader Zordon to become warriors of Angel Grove. They are granted powers from power coins channeling through their morphers to change them into different color spandex suits with stylish helmets, cool weapons, and giant armored robot dinosaurs known as Zords. Week after week Jason Lee Scott, Kimberly Ann Hart, Trini Kwan, Billy Cranston, and Zack Taylor saved Angel Grove from the villainous Rita Repulsa. Why does this work? How has this worked for over two decades?
The catchy theme songs for once and then when they morph and the cool poses and the action and the characters and the villains. Oh, the villains. So…many….villains… At the end of the day, each incarnation is about five young people chosen to become warriors to fight for justice and the safety of their town. We see these diverse groups of boys and girls learn about forgiveness, sacrifice, compassion, love, selflessness, courage, bravery, and empowerment.
Now we are graced with a reboot to invite legendary fans of the series and hopefully newbie fans. This time around the tone is different and I am glad there was room for creative license for today’s world. I don’t have proof but I think it is due in part to that “fan film which offered insight to the idea of Power Rangers but lacked the family friendliness. It was smart story-wise but was too dark. Luckily Saban and director Dean Israelite (Project Almanac) managed to find that perfect balance.
Dacre Montgomery (upcoming Stranger Things Season 2 this Halloween) is a star in the making as well as maybe a Zac Efron stunt double on the side as well. How cool is it to go to acting school and then get to be a part of two cultural phenomenons as your career starter? He takes on the role of the Red Ranger/ Jason Scott previously played by Austin St. John. A leader is a big mantle for one man or woman to take hold. When you are the star quarterback, much is expected from you. It can weigh on you and you tend to make…decisions. Jason loses his football status…. and makes a silly move and pays the price. Jason isn’t your typical jock. He is trying to connect with his father but feels he will never understand him. He looks out for people who are bullied. Luckily one man is his future best friend Billy Cranston. (familiar?) He has all the makings to be a great leader, but now he has a former alien warrior named Zordon asking him to be a Red armored warrior and save Angel Grove. yeah, typical high school day. And I thought homework was tough. I admire Jason for looking for the best in people when they can’t see it. Well done Dacre.
Enter Naomi Scott(Terra Nova, Lemonade Mouth) I was excited when she was cast. Terra Nova is such an amazing show and it was canceled too soon but Maddie is so lovable as well as the Shannon family..well the brother had a ways to go. Anywhoo Scott departs from Maddie in this film taking on Amy Jo Johnson’s Kimberly Hart. She is a girl who does something she thinks is right. but the delivery is way out of line and hurtful. We see Kimberly scarred and hiding her shame and guilt. She is wondering if she is worthy of redemption and worthy of being a hero. Such a compelling performance of trying to let go. And she looks pretty in pink( cue crickets..) but it’s true.
Becky G (Austin and Ally, Empire and singer oh my!) pays tribute to the late and forever legendary Thuy Trang with perfection. I believe Trang would have been overjoyed and honored. Trini Kwan is mysterious. She has a dashing no-nonsense leave me alone poker face but there is so much more. She is a girl who is an outsider and has been fed that vibe for far too long. Her family longs to connect with her but not in the way she wants. She has been turned away from potential friends because she is different. Trini is more than different. She is beautiful inside and out. She is going through an emotional journey that I am glad screenwriter Jason Gatins decided to tackle She feels maybe having people treat her as an equal might be a pointless crusade until fate intervenes.
Ludi Lin is a newcomer with such gentleness and kindness and wisdom beyond his years. He is lovable the instant you see him just like Walter Jones for Zack Taylor. He is a loner but finds the cool in a lot of things and has that brash and cocky attitude. When he opens up, you want to hug this guy. It is so powerful to see a character when beneath that bravado you see a man who is hurting and wants to connect. Pain is a pain but hiding your pain..wow. The Morphing Grid works in mysterious ways.
RJ Cyler( Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) is dynamite. I saw a video of Bernie Mac doing some stand-up comedy(not family-friendly but just laughter all around) on his Twitter feed. I feel that Cyler has emulated some of the charm, swagger, and feel-good vibes of Mac and even John Boyega. I want to be friends with this guy. And the whole cast too. Cranston is so well done. For a boy with autism to be given the chance to be a power ranger is amazing. But I see Billy as a boy who is kind, quirky, highly intellectual, yearns for an adventure, and is the glue that is trying to unite the team. His tenacity is the spark that brings the fated teens on a life-changing journey. You root for this guy at every turn and he challenges all to be better and rise above.
I love this woman. She was a superstar long before her “big break” in Pitch Perfect and Hunger Games franchise. Elizabeth Banks (Spider-Man trilogy, Scrubs, The Lego Movie) has acted above and beyond in many great projects. She radiates charm and beauty every second she appears on the screen. And the commercials too. She looks great wearing shaving cream. look it up. Her early career is with a look. She terrified me while she took on the mantle of Rita Repulsa. She is freakishly attractive and evil and repulsing. She is a former power ranger who has lost her way and she is on a mission and she is driven. Banks conveys it so well you feel the anger, the rage, and hours sitting in a makeup chair. She is not to be messed with.
Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle, Breaking Bad, Trumbo, Godzilla, Argo) is truly an amazing actor. His interviews evoke so much insight, youthfulness, humor, and gentleness and he plays characters that are so different that challenge themselves. He once said that “if something is really scary and very challenging, then I probably should be doing it.” It has paid off the decades he has dazzled Hollywood with the minor and major characters. For me Malcolm in the Middle is quintessential. Going back to Dacre’s success, Cranston worked for Saban’s Power Rangers doing voiceover and he enjoyed it so well that the powers that be named a ranger after him, and years later he was asked to play the mentor to the Rangers, Zordon. Zordon is dedicated to saving lives and we see the weight of the universe on his shoulders. But for this Zordon, he learns the value of patience in the underdogs.
Bill Hader (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, SNL, Men in Black 3, Tropic Thunder, Night at Museum 2) is gifted with the power of voice and comedic timing and training. His years on SNL have served him well from Stefan, Vinnie Vedeci, Andy Warhol, etc, and such a crisp voiceover. He is a volcano of laughs. He has the weirdest monologue in Pineapple Express but evokes so much of his talent. A well-made choice in the role of Alpha 5. His film design is different but pays homage and Alpha is still as funny and quirky as his 1993 counterpart.
Simply put, I will say that this film is diverse which I love that Lionsgate and Saban have championed for years. I love that this film took on a more contemporary tone and has such compelling and relatable characters that evoke such heart and lessons of hope, redemption, family, heroism, and compassion. and TOGETHER WE ARE MORE. The visuals are stunning, like the morphing, l love some of the homages and easter eggs to the original series, and the score is as always heartfelt. My childhood is realized once again for the third time. (Goosebumps and Peanuts Movie) Best of luck Jumanji. My only negative is that while two amazing cameos appeared I wish it was more screentime and I wish the biggest easter egg was handled in a more suspenseful way. I am hoping anyone who has watched any iteration of this franchise turns up in the theater. I WANT A SEQUEL.