September 17, 2018

Back in 1993, if there was one small American city that you would have wanted to steer clear of it would have been Angel Grove.   

Not that there’s anything wrong with the place in and of itself.  In many ways it’s a perfectly ordinary small American city.  It has its High School and a Community Center at which a disparate bunch of five High School teenagers, each of whom suffered from their own teenage problems, regularly volunteered.

However, despite all its ordinariness, there was a compelling reason why you would have wanted to steer clear of Angel Grove.  That’s because, from 1993 onward, it became strikingly apparent that week after week after week, Angel Grove was ground zero, epicenter, and tourist destination of choice for an endless succession of invasions, attacks, and general mayhem inflicted by alien mutant space monsters, or alien mutant space machines, or alien mutant space demons, or alien space witches, or warlocks.  All in all, it made Angel Grove an extremely trying place to live.

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And it was an even more trying place to live if you happened to be one of those five High School teenagers who volunteered at the Community Center.  That’s because they had been singled out and chosen by another alien being called Zordon, who gave each of them a transformation Power Coin that allowed them to “morph” into Power Rangers – color-coded, spandex costumed, and futuristic motor-cycle helmeted uber-ninja martial arts-type warriors – in order to do unarmed and other combat with the invading alien space monsters, alien space machines … etc., etc., etc.


In and of itself, that might not seem quite so trying were it not for the fact that, week after week after week, the unarmed combat only ever seemed to work for a bit.  Said bit having been exhausted, the five teenage Power Rangers would then employ an elaborately futuristic weapons system in order to blast the space monster/machine etc. to pieces.  Any respite this may have afforded them was, however, only temporary since the monster/machine etc. would almost instantly regenerate and transform itself into gigantic sized monster/machine etc., thereby forcing them to leap into their Zords, blast away at the gigantic monster/machine etc., before finally combining their Zords to create a Megazord that would ultimately save both the day and Angel Grove.

Now, twenty four years after their first appearance, the Power Rangers are getting a big-screen reboot and a twenty first century makeover.  Although many of the original and much-loved tropes remain the same, the new Power Rangers movie retells and slightly recasts the Power Rangers story but sets it in the modern day.

There are visual and design changes, too.  Gone are the old spandex costumes, and they are replaced by more super-hero looking, armor-plated suits including, on the chests of the pink and yellow Rangers, what appear to be at least D, or quite possibly DD, bust sized additions.  Also, the colors have been toned down from the day-glo of the old spandex to something a little more muted and metallic.  The design studio that created the new costumes also did the designs for the Lord of the Rings movies.

Naturally, the action scenes and giant robot fights have all been given a major cinematographic face-lift.  After all, in the low-budget 90’s TV version, all the action scene footage was cut from the Super Sentai Japanese original series which were then spliced together with other scenes that had been filmed with American actors.   The individual Power Rangers characters, too, are more complicated, and their personalities and back stories more richly fleshed out.  This, of course, should come as no surprise since the script writers behind the Power Rangers movie are Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz – the same writing team who created X-Men: First Class.   Although full details of the plot have yet to be revealed, what we do now from the various reports and trailers is that the Power Rangers will be facing their old arch-nemesis, Rita Repulsa, an alien sorceress with a huge army of Putty Patrollers and assorted monsters.  In the original, she had been imprisoned in a kind of space dumpster by Zordon, before being accidentally released – thus causing Zordon to choose and recruit the Power Rangers in the first place.  There are strong indications that the movie version will give this part of the Rangers back story a twist.  Hints are that the opening scene will be set somewhere in the pre-historic past, and will involve Zordon creating a black hole and sending Rita through it.

Rita herself receives more than just a modern makeover in the movie.  For one thing she looks entirely different.  The pointy Viking helmet hairstyle of the original white haired Rita is out, and is replaced by long black hair (with green highlights) pulled high back into a long flowing ponytail; the original screechy voice has dropped to a sexier mezzo-soprano; and the original Madonna cone shape bra and clunky brown robe have been replaced with cut-away, green, scale-like armor.  The new look Rita is, in fact, pretty hot – in a ruthless, pure evil incarnate, bent on destroying the world kind of way.  She’s also thoroughly badass, and definitely more hands-on, lead from the front, and, as seen in the trailer where she personally threatens and attacks the off-duty Pink Ranger in her own home, evidently more than happy to do her own dirty work.

Staying with Rita for a moment, there’s more than just a hint in the pre-publicity that her green costume if more than just a fashion decision chosen to match her green highlights.  The speculation is that she is, in fact, a former Green Ranger who has either gone rogue or been somehow subsumed – speculation fueled, in no small part, from still photos that appear to show the Green Power Coin embedded in her staff.  After all, the Green Ranger, though not one of the original five Red, Pink, Blue, Black, and Yellow Rangers, featured prominently in the original TV series.  Perhaps the Power Rangers movie producers are lining him/her up for a possible sequel?

Of the other recurring characters, Zordon (played here by Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston) is back as a giant talking head, as is the humanoid robot Alpha 5.  And then, of course, there’s Goldar – Rita's winged, gorilla-like, alien warlord.  Pre-publicity reports suggest that he will be vaporized in the movie’s opening scene, but later reincarnated by Rita.

The Power Rangers movie will morph onto theater screens starting March 24th 2017, and aims not just to please established and now mature Power Ranger fans, but also to attract an entire new generation of fans.

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