Everyone has been checking out the Power Rangers fan film showing the series in a dark and gritty style. The response to this video seems to be mixed and while I did think it was well done it is not the version of the Power Rangers that I would want. From the beginning the American take on super sentai was designed to be family friendly show and to help market toys. There are many different ways to go about doing a Power Rangers movie that pays tribute to the classic show. However, the most important part is to keep the movie family friendly and fun in order to draw in a whole new generation of fans while making the older fans happy.
It is important to have the right tone with this movie. While everything thinks ‘dark and gritty’ is cool, let’s remember that the gritty tone of ‘Man of Steel’ bothered many Superman fans and the gritty tone of the live action ‘Transformers’ just comes off as unbelievable. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ proved that people like adventures with a lighter tone that can still have great action without getting too dark. It is not an easy balancing act, but a light tone with good action would work really well with the silly feel of a super sentai story, more than that it can expand the audience which will pay off in a higher box office return.
The original line was ‘teenagers with attitude’, but pulling that off can be a bit more difficult than it sounds. There are many choices for the cast, but I see two methods for choosing the cast. The first is to find young actors who might be on the unknown side, but have better known adult actors fill in the side roles (i.e. Zordon, Ernie, etc). The second choice is to find popular teen/early 20s actors, but if they don’t fit the hero role audience won’t buy into it as was the case with Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. No matter what choice is made make sure that the leads can do martial arts or train them during the pre-production period. It is more important that the cast is likable and believable than famous or recognizable as the name Power Rangers carries enough recognition for the market.
Special effects can be a good thing that enhances a story, but rarely do they improve a martial arts movie. While there are some ‘wire-fu’ exceptions the majority of action movies are not helped by over the top special effects. The martial arts segments should be done with well done choreography that can get the audience fired up like the rough and realistic fighting in ‘The Bourne Identity’ or ‘Fearless’. The special effects need to be used only during the morphed segments to show the difference in power between normal and morphed modes. Finally the zord segments must look realistic despite the impossibility of the designs as was done in ‘Pacfic Rim’. The ‘magical’ parts should have that advanced special effects shine while the other moments should have a more real feel to them to make the movie more believable.
The movie should begin with Rita being brought out of stasis by foolish scientists or by a random accident. Upon her release she uses her magic to summon her minions from another dimension. Once the audience gets a glimpse of her forces they begin their invasion of Earth. Goldar leads an army of monsters that decimate military forces and seem unstoppable. We would then cut to a small temple where an alarm goes off and a dusty robot comes back to life and after a moment of shock at the return of an old enemy the robot (Alpha) starts activating various controls and brings Zordon out of stasis (yes he is no longer a head in a tube) and the two of them seek out the descendants of the original heroes who defeated Rita 1000 years ago.
Thus our heroes are introduced into the movie and to the surprise of Zordon and Alpha they aren’t ‘great warriors’ but instead ‘teenagers with attitudes’. After some battles and team building the group unites to summon the zords and defeat Goldar to save the world. However, as the movie ends a man in the shadows (Lord Zedd) tells Rita that ‘it’ is complete and that their ‘dark ranger’ will bring an end to Zordon and the Power Rangers.
The sequel will introduce and focus on the Green Ranger much like the original ‘Green with Evil’ story. This will make Tommy a major part of the story and force the rangers to take on someone who is as powerful as they are. For more dramatic impact Tommy should be introduced in part one so that his ‘heel turn’ will hurt more. When the move reaches the climax Lord Zedd arrives to battle all six rangers, but retreats when it seems like they are getting the upper hand. The movie concludes with Zedd and Rita looking down on their final weapon: Serpentera.
The final move would begin with everyone training, getting ready to take down Zedd once and for all. However, a surprise attack by Zedd in Serpentera destroys the ranger’s base and leads the rangers to believe that Zordon is dead. They search the wreckage and find Alpha who is heavily damaged, but Billy is capable of repairing him. Alpha reveals that he is working on an upgrade for the Megazord that will make it capable of combining with the Dragonzord, but it will take more time.
As Zedd continues his invasion several monsters attack different major cites around the world. The rangers go off to battle the lesser monsters as the upgrade gets finished. At this time, it is revealed that not only is Zordon alive, but he and Zedd created the ranger powers and while Zordon had to use stasis to live for so long Zedd has been taking his power directly from the morphing grid making him nearly immortal. The final battle features the Mega Dragonzord battling Serpentera on Earth and in space. The ending comes with the rangers entering Serpentera to finish off Zedd and they do with Zordon giving his life to cut off Zedd’s connection to the morphing grid. In the end the world is safe once again as the rangers celebrate their victory.
Making a good Power Rangers movie is not impossible, but it will not be an easy task. Making long time fans happy, but also drawing in a new audience can be difficult. However, the Marvel movies have shown that it can be done. If the production team takes the movie(s) seriously then we could have a great retelling that could do justice to the fun of the original. If not we will either get a terrible cheese filled movie or something dark and gritty that will alienate a good percentage of the core audience.
While I doubt anyone will take my plot or ideas seriously I do hope that when we get our reboot movie that it is a fun and enjoyable adventure rather than a painful experience like any number of poorly done movie reboots of nostalgic TV series. When it comes down to it, Power Rangers is about fun and adventure and that’s why it became such an important part of so many people’s childhood.
jared @ scarlet-rhapsody.com