I Got Caught Up In The Power Rangers Phenomenon Back In The 90s!
There! I admit it! August of 1993 I was just starting my freshman year of high school in Pittsburgh, PA. At this time I was still watching the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons, reading the books, and enjoying the movies. I was so into Martial Arts it wasn’t even funny. Its a love that I have to this day; I still look at my certificate that I earned for my 1st Degree Black Belt in Sullivan’s American Kenpo with pride and respect.
So I was watching the Ninja Turtles, reading their books, and into other forms of Martial Arts things as well. But when I saw the previews for ‘The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’ on Fox, I was transfixed! When the theme song hit, I was pumped! Austin St. John as Jason! Thuy Trang as Trini! Walter Jones as Zack (he was among my favorites being the black guy), Amy Jo Johnson as Kimberly (among my many crushes), and David Yost as Billy, man I was pumped!
They fought for what was right. They took on the bullies without being malicious, which I needed to see because I had been bullied so much at this point that my usual happy demeanor turned sour. The Power Rangers were polite to adults, they were the like five Hulk Hogan types that said their prayers, ate their vitamins, were true to themselves, true to their country, true to each other. I loved them so much.
Tommy showed up, and the Green Ranger was just even more bad ass. I mean wow! His skills were top notch, and the dynamic between him and Jason was even better. This show had it all! I can’t say it enough; these kids were heroic and everything that I wanted to be.
Then I Got Older
Tommy became the White Ranger, and my tastes started changing. I still loved them. Hell, I still remember the time I cut school once to buy Power Rangers toys and ended up buying six of Jason because that’s all they had. I painted the toys so I could differentiate who was who and had a great time about it. My situation in High School (essentially being bullied) killed all of that good kid stuff in me. I just wanted to be left alone. Love for the Power Rangers was still there, I just…couldn’t get into them anymore. I kept up with what was going on a bit, but I just faded away.
I saw the Power Rangers Fan Film that hit the internet strong a few years ago with James Van Der Beek (aka The Dawson) hit the internet, and my love for the Power Rangers hit all over again. It was absolutely amazing! The dystopian world vibe was captivating, the darker tone of the team was just outstanding. If you have not seen the Fan Film, you do yourself a disservice. You can view it here and you’re welcome!
When I heard that they were going to make an actual movie of the Power Rangers and I was so excited! The early aspects of the movie didn’t really impress me that much, unfortunately. It could be that I was feeling very jaded, or maybe I wasn’t that big on the changes that they made. Who knows? I didn’t go and see the movie, I figured I would wait until it came out on Blu Ray and then I would get it. I picked it up on Amazon and watched it and I fell in love.
And Here We Are; Why Saban’s Power Rangers Deserves A Sequel – For One Character Development – Rita Repulsa
First and foremost, Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa is just great. Her charisma and skills compliments the young cast tremendously. That evil look that she adopts, and her tone are such sharp contrasts to the original Rita from the show and its all in a good way. The offered backstory for the evil megalomaniac is also much better than that from the television show. Her connection to the Power Rangers team really makes me smile, and gives a nod to the dystopian future that was hinted at in the Fan Film.
The Power Rangers Themselves – First Up Billy Cranston aka Blue Ranger
Portrayed by RJ Cyler steals the show easily. I do not know if he watched David Yost’s portrayal of the character, but he takes the super genius formula and he runs with it. The writers decided to depict Billy’s behavior and explain it as autism. I can see some of that in the original character and I think that is why it works so well. Billy explains it in the film simply by saying ‘My mind doesn’t work like your’s.’ He’s so smart, and he’s so funny yet he isn’t trying. You come to love Billy because he is so innocent, and he needs to be the Blue Ranger. He needs it, and his fellow Rangers because he lives in a world where he isn’t understood by anyone. Who doesn’t feel that way?
Billy actually thanks everyone for being his friends. Maybe we should all take the time to do that? Billy is literally the glue that brings the team together and makes them all strive to be better as individuals so they can come together to form a team. The only real difference between Cyler and Yost’s Billy Cranston is that Cyler’s team are a bunch of misfits that come together. Yost’s team were already a group of friends.
Jason Scott aka The Red Ranger
Austin St. John is outstanding as Jason. He’s the good guy that is a strong leader, and teacher. I don’t think he’s ever done anything wrong before. Dacre Montgomery is flawed, deeply. He reminds me a lot of Emilio Esteves’ Andrew Clark from The Breakfast Club in that regard; the pressure of being what an entire school (and town’s) desire for relevance in sports gets to be too much and he lashes out. If you are a parent, you understand why his father is pushing him to his potential, but you also want his father to just lay off of him. Montgomery brings strong leadership, the same as St. John did, but his teammates know that he is feeling the exact same was as they do. They respect him though, because he is a voice of reason and he leads by example.
He also feeds off of his team, and they in turn, make him a much better character. He is to every one of them what they need him to be, which is what a good leader does. A good friend to Billy, a shoulder to lean on for Kimberly, an understanding but voice of reason for Wildman Zack, and a positive male friend that is understanding to Trini. He is so well developed in this regard. I admit that it takes a few viewings to really appreciate this, but it is still done very well.
Kimberly Hart aka The Pink Ranger
Naomi Scott’s Kimberly Hart shares as many similarities as her early 90s counterpart, as she is different from her. Intelligent, and capable. Yet she’s a mean girl. She has asshole-like tendencies in the film that shet doesn’t show in the original show, and her bad qualities slowly fade away the closer she gets to the team. The one thing that they do with Kimberly in the new movie is that she acts like a second-in-command to the team. If its not for her, I don’t think Trini gets as close to the team as he does and its that close kinship that is shown in the television show as well.
She and Trini keep the testosterone of the males of the team from getting out of control because they both capable of slapping them down when necessary. The best part about Kimberly is that she is her own redemption story. Kimberly is a powerful young woman in her own right, puts her demons to rest, and becomes a powerful character.
Trini aka The Yellow Ranger
Trini is tied for my favorite character in the movie. I feel so bad for her in so many ways; her hyper attentive mother throwing four and five questions at her before she can even answer the first one constantly annoys me. Her blasé proclamation of ‘I’m pretty sure I’m a super hero.’ is delivered brilliantly by Becky G. She is the most reluctant to be in the group, but she needs it as badly as Billy seems to. While she’s working with Kimberly to keep the boys in check, she isn’t as unsure about herself as Kimberly is. She knows who she is, is comfortable in her own skin, and I think that her friendship helps Kimberly to grow.
I especially like how she interacts with her younger brothers. She seems like she would be the most amazing big sister ever! Furthermore, as I watch the movie again, its her influence that helps the team become an actual team. The playful training with Kimberly, the passing of notes in class, she’s just….great.
And Finally Zack aka The Black Ranger
Lundi Lin takes the wild and reckless aspects of Zack and takes them to another level. It doesn’t feel like he has as much character development as the other characters, but that is far from the truth. He brings just the right amount of bad to the team to give them that edge that they need. His home life is the most heartbreaking, and his need for acceptance by his team is beyond apparent. He’s also, most likely, the most fun of all of the Rangers. Just like Walter Jones’ “Hip Hop Kido” version of the character.
I don’t mean to make Zack’s section of this blog shorter than the others, but in so many ways he also speaks for himself.
Okay So Why Does Saban’s Power Rangers Deserve a Sequel?
Because it is what is needed right now. Kids need role models that are just like them that aren’t made into victims. The five Rangers have their problems, and like most teenagers, they internalize their problems and attempt to put the strongest them forward. Kids need to see this on screen just as much as they need to see gender diversity, or racial diversity. Even though the Rangers are able to overcome their problems, its not a quick fix and the problems don’t just go away. They’re still outcast, but they don’t care. They’re comfortable with who they are and what they are, and they realize that they do not need to do anything alone. They have each other.
It shows that teamwork is important in this life, and being self aware and self reliant is good but you need friends as well. That was the biggest issue I had at that age; I wouldn’t let people see me. And kids on TV, yes the original Rangers included, were just so perfect and it didn’t look like they had any sort of struggle in their lives. These kids struggle, but they’re good for each other and they strive to be the best that they can be.
The Bottom Line Is…
The storytelling is top notch, as far as I’m concerned. Its not as rushed as I originally thought that it was, and lifelong friendships can be forged in a short amount of time. Quality of a relationship isn’t determined by the quantity as you’ve known someone. This movie shows us that.
There is also a larger world that can be explored. Zordon was a Ranger. What other threats did he face? When are those threats going to come back to the Earth? We can look into what motivated Rita besides being so power hungry. They tease Tommy showing up at the end of the movie, what about that? Why can’t we find more out about Tommy and his role in the team?
The Super Hero genre NEEDS the Power Rangers. They’re different than what DC and Marvel are putting out there right now. Personally I like ‘The Breakfast Club Super Hero Team’ formula. I feel like this movie has started its own sub culture of the Super Hero genre with Marvel’s Runaways coming into the forefront on Hulu. Runaways is going to be a hit, but if Power Rangers isn’t as quality as it is I do not think that Runaways is as good as it is. I don’t think it means as much to me if Power Rangers didn’t recapture me like it did.
In the end, despite what the reviews from the jaded critics say, you have to give the Power Rangers the opportunity to re-build its brand in the Super Hero Movie genre. They deserve that chance. You set up this world, with Angel Grove at its center, in such a brilliant way. Just to cast it off because it isn’t as big as a Marvel or DC movie isn’t fair. It further goes to show that Hollywood executives are not as smart as they think they are, if they ever were.
Give the Rangers their chance to shine. Give the kids the heroes that they need, and come on! Go Go Power Rangers sequels because there are just way too many plot and character driven stories to be told!
That’s about all that I’ve got right now. I hope that you enjoyed my opinions. Before I go, Eric has finally gotten his website up and running. So if you have any digital marketing needs, go to inyourhandmedia.com and check him out!