Spencer's Day

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

They're making a Power Rangers Movie!?

You know, I had a great childhood. We had video games like the Spyro franchise and Pokemon. We also had movies like Chronicles of Narnia, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the X-Men trilogy. Don't even get me started on all the awesome TV shows of the early 2000's. But one part of my childhood stands out and will forever stand the test of time...

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I know, I know. This franchise, while huge, does get cheesy really quickly. Heck, the concept alone might garner mockery from detractors. If you haven't every heard of Power Rangers, it's a hugely successful children's show about five or so teenagers with attitude becoming the titular super heroes and fighting the forces of evil. And they can summon giant mechanical animals (sometimes vehicles) called Zords that can combine together into a giant mecha. It gets cheesy sometimes, but in a good way. However, my love for Power Rangers has been declining due to the repetitive nature of the show: Main villain creates/summons monster-of-the-week mini-villain that happens to exploit whatever issue the Rangers are currently facing in their day-to-day lives. Power Rangers fight said monster, but get curb-stomped and the monster-of-the-week escapes. The Rangers learn a life lesson that somehow lets them defeat the monster-of-the-week. The Rangers fight the monster-of-the-week a second time, this time winning and normally blowing the monster up. The Main villain then resurrects and turns the monster-of-the-week into a giant. The Rangers whip out their Zords and destroy the now giant monster-of-the-week permanently. The rangers celebrate their victory while the main villain throws a tantrum and blames his/her minions for being terrible at their jobs. And repeat for the majority of the show!

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Of course, there are some major changes throughout the franchise, from the addition of lovable walking meme-generator Bridge Carson (aka the Green Ranger from the 13th season of Power Rangers, Power Rangers S.P.D.) to the fact that the 17th season, Power Rangers RPM basically called itself out on all the things we've come to associate Power Rangers with. But the aforementioned formula stays basically the same.

But when I saw the trailer for the new Power Rangers movie, My love for the brightly-colored heroes was reinvigorated. And boy oh boy, this movie looks to be the most unique aspect of the franchise yet.

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Before I actually talk about the movie, I just gotta say, I love the new look they gave the Rangers themselves. The movie is a reboot of the very first season of Power Rangers, titled Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. And the redesign picture above is, in my opinion, vastly superior to the original incarnation of the Rangers. To give an idea of how different the new designs are compared to the original 90's era design, here's a comparison.

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The original, 80's era designs for the Power Rangers.

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The designs they will be using for the 2017 movie.

On top we have the designs for the original 90's era Power Rangers. An old-but iconic look with a heavier focus on bright colors than intricate detail. While it works, it has commonly been criticized for looking like spandex, which makes it harder to take them seriously (granted, the number of 90's era super-heroes that didn't wear something similar to spandex are few and far between). However, the designs for the 2017 movie looks less like spandex and more like armor, in addition to being much sleeker and having a certain amount of elegance as well as just an overall otherworldly look to it. Oh, and before someone asks why the 80's has six Rangers while the movie has five, the reason for that is because the Green Ranger (aka fan-favorite Tommy) wasn't originally a good guy and worked for the villain of the original season and then turned good later on, but we currently do not know if Tommy is even in the movie to begin with.

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I will admit something that I am admittedly indifferent towards. Judging by the trailer, it's going for a notably darker and slightly more mature take on the Rangers' adventures. The problem here? The trailer is filled with just about every teen drama cliche imaginable. So if you don't like angsty teen dramas, you will probably not like the movie. It's entirely possible the movie itself won't have these cliches as trailers do sometimes mislead the audience (the biggest example would be the very movie I reviewed the other day, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). As for me, I'm going to watch it. Because even I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Power Rangers, I'm leaning more in the "love" part of that relationship.

But you wanna know the the thing that really bugs me about the new movie? A moment in the trailer where Jason (the Red Ranger) and Kimberly (the Pink Ranger) kiss. Why does this bother me? Because that scene in the trailer brings life to a little worry I have... That the movie will try WAY too hard in pushing Jason and Kimberly as a couple and it will overshadow the major plot. It's alright as long as it keeps the focus on the action, since Power Rangers is a franchise basically built on it's action sequences and Megazord battles (and silly, slightly cheesy humor). In other words, don't turn Power Rangers into Twilight.

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But something I do admire is in accordance to the whole "darker and angstier" thing it has going for it, Zordon (the guy who gave the Rangers their powers) statement of "Recruit Teenagers With Attitude!" becomes kind of funny because the 90's Rangers lived really good lives. They were well liked and successful high-school graduates, but didn't have an actual "attitude" due to their good-natured upbringing. Here, almost all of them were bullied and shunned, and as such they actually do have a bit of an attitude on them! It took 20+ years for the Rangers to finally be Teenagers With Attitude!

Also, to further reinforce the point that this is the original show being rebooted, they are bringing back the original villain of Power Rangers, Rita Repulsa. While I literally praised the 2017 movie for the incredible redesigns of the rangers themselves, I will admit that the movie version of Rita Repulsa looks NOTHING like her 80's counterpart. And no, not in a good way. I mean, Rita was a somewhat goofy villain. She relied heavily on her monsters to do just about everything and never really fought the Rangers herself. But the thing is, she was just as much a staple of the franchise as the Rangers themselves. In this movie, she bears an uncanny resemblance to Poison Ivy (the DC Comics villain, not the plant). To be fair, considering just how old Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is just about any redesign is going to be drastic. But still. She looks like a completely different person now.

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2017 Rita Repulsa

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90's Rita Repulsa

Now I am not a fan of the new Rita for two major reasons. She doesn't look anything like the original. And secondly, while her new design continues the elegant, otherworldly design of the Rangers, it just feels... Off... In the new design's defense it DOES make Rita look more menacing and I can tell that the movie version of Rita is supposed to be a much more serious villain, judging by the fact that she literally says (and I quote) "I've killed Rangers before...". Which A: Is a first for Power Rangers directly referencing death (the TV Show inspiring this movie was not allowed to use the words "die", "kill", or "death" in a sentence prior to this movie). And B: Is kind of creepy. While on the subject of Rita Repulsa, there's a somewhat popular theory popping up that Rita is the movie equivalent of the Green Ranger. But I feel that may be a stretch. I mean, Rita is a being who hates the Power Rangers with a passion, so why would she become what she hates? The only reason I can think of that makes this theory make sense is that Rita becomes the Green Ranger to fight fire with fire, so to speak, but that may be a little far-fetched. I really doubt she'll actually be the Green Ranger. What I do think is either Tommy (the original Green Ranger) is not going to be revealed in any of the trailers whatsoever because if you have watched Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, you know that Tommy doesn't become a Ranger period until the second half of the show. And even then he doesn't actually help the main Rangers due to being evil until three-quarters into the show. And even THEN he only gets to use his Green Ranger powers for the side of Good briefly as he loses his powers towards the final part of the show. I probably should have put up a spoiler warning but this is Power Rangers we're talking about.

And another I will mention here is of course, the Zords. Specifically the MegaZord. In case you don't know what a MegaZord is, it's when all five (or however many Rangers there are in the season in question) combine their Zords (giant mechas designed to look like anything from dinosaurs to modern day animals to mythical creatures to... Vehicles? What is this, Transformers!?) into one big humanoid robot that is much stronger than a regular Zord. The Power Rangers normally only use the MegaZord for when whatever foe they were fighting grows to giant size. Kind of like a kaiju movie.

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Now they have unveiled the toy version of the MegaZord. And... I WANT to like this MegaZord so much... But there are two things holding it back. Now I love how just like with Rita Repulsa and the Rangers themselves, the MegaZord continues the otherworldly theme. What I don't like is the lack of color. Now Power Rangers is a franchise well known for bright, vibrant colors but the MegaZord has WAY too much grey in it's color scheme. Furthermore, it's hard to tell which Zord makes up what. One of my favorite parts about the franchise is just seeing HOW the Zords actually combine together. But I will admit, aside from the overuse of grey, the design looks really cool! It's sleeker and less boxy than the original MegaZord (pictured below).

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Ultimately, I'm just going to have to see the new MegaZord in action in order to finalize my opinion of it. If the new MegaZord is well animated (I will assume that it's going to get the CGI treatment because it's 2016, almost 2017, and everything uses CGI for giant robots/monsters/dinosaurs/dragons) and gets some decent screen time and/or fight scenes.

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Finally, as far as acting goes, I like the actors overall. I do think that whoever portrays Jason looks way too old for the role (the Rangers are supposed to be between the ages of 15-18, but the actor looks like he's in his thirties). The same can be argued for the rest of the cast, but my point still stands.

So basically, what I want from this movie is a nice fun romp through Angel Grove (where basically the entire franchise takes place with very few exceptions) with some epic action sequences and throw in a little bit of cheese because it's Power Rangers. What I DON'T want is the whole Jason x Kimberly thing going on in the trailer. If it is a thing, then don't make it overshadow the action. Now I may sound like a child with that statement (a more childlike version would be "Ew, Jason and Kimberly are kissing! Throw it out of the movie and put in more explosions!"). But this is a franchise built on action. It's alright for say, The Hunger Games to have romance in it because Hunger Games is equal parts love story and action movie with political themes. It's alright for Sword Art Online to have romance because that is a romance/action anime hybrid. But Power Rangers has it's roots placed firmly in action and a little bit of comedy, and including anything but that would uproot our metaphorical tree. So, like I said. Less Twilight, more Power Rangers.

Oh, and if they go the entire movie without someone shouting "It's Morphin' Time!" I will cry.

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