Go Go Boom Or Busters – Why A New Group Of Teenagers With Attitude Could Potentially Be The Biggest Failures This Decade

21 09 2016

Power Rangers (Lionsgate - 2017)

In 1993, upon seeing the success and potential of a Japanese kids show about a group of brightly coloured heroes and their personal giant robots; Entertainment businessman Haim Saban with assistance from his business partner Shuki Levy created a TV show about a group of attitude ridden teenagers whose job it was to save the world from an impending invasion from an out of this world villain living on the moon. The show was called Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and was a TV Hit for anyone aged 10 or under. Haim Saban had basically unleashed his own monster onto the world, and what followed was one of the longest running (and at one point easily the most popular) kids TV franchises in history with several toy lines being produced and even a movie.

White Tigerzord

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a bona-fide sensation with fans across the globe, including me; being glued to the screen on a weekly basis as we watched our favourite TV Heroes fight a range of rubber suited villains, before then having to call upon some giant dinosaur shaped robots to fight the ever so larger rubber suited villain. I remember, must have been for my 5th birthday receiving a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Megazord set, playing with it with my friends at Church, and then I think must have been the following Christmas receiving the White Tigerzord as well: so much fun. It was one of the biggest franchises and TV hits of the early 90’s, but since then just sort of disappeared. After a couple of years it just went away from the minds of the many, and became a show only the dear hearted fan would watch. I mean, it must have been relatively popular in order for it to continue, but it would be fair to say that it has never since the 90’s been able to enjoy the success and hype it once enjoyed when it first arrived – but could this be about to change?

New Power Rangers Zord

Back in August, for one reason or another I decided to look up clips from Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue (in particular the weird story-line about the Snake Tattoo). As to why I had that in my head all of a sudden I cannot explain, but despite not knowing how this happened, part of me was actually rather glad. On the one hand it meant that I could take a stroll down memory lane and think back upon the times I used to watch Power Rangers with a passion. On the other though; it meant that the analysis part of my brain which regularly likes to delve deep into things in such great detail could have some fun. The key question as to all of this analyzing of an in and out TV Show that has been going for over two decades and which I have enjoyed now and then; was whether or not the new big budget movie from Lionsgate; due out next year was going to be any good or not. Well, technically it was actually a bit more complex than that and it was not necessarily a question: it was more of a statement and belief that next year’s new Power Rangers Movie has a lot of potential to be good, but also a lot of potential to fail horribly. Why? Well that is what I would like to try and analyse/explain over the course of this post.

Super Sentai Logo

For my reasoning of this to be understood, I would like to give a brief but possibly detailed history of Power Rangers (if you would rather skip, please jump to paragraph 10). Nearly twenty years before Power Rangers even existed, there was a show that was produced in Japan about a group of super heroes dressed in colourful clothing who every week would fight villainous monsters both on a human giant-sized scale. The show was called Super Sentai, and is still going to this day, all be it the show has been revamped several times during that period. The show was made by Toei Co., Ltd. and Bandai, and has gone on to become one of the most successful TV franchises in all of Japan alongside such shows as Kamen Rider and the Ultra Series. Roughly less than two decades after Super Sentai’s debut, while on a business trip to Japan, businessman Haim Saban saw potential in the series. His plan was to create a brand new show for the American market which would later be known as Mighty Morphin (correct spelling) Power Rangers. He quickly produced a pilot with help from business partner Shuki Levy and spent roughly five years trying to find a channel in America willing to take it up; the eventual picker uper being Fox Kids. The show was about a group of teenagers who supposedly had ‘ATTITUDE’, and who every week would fight to save their home town (mostly) and the world from a big villain. Every week they would have to fight in hand to hand combat with the villain’s minions whom in turn would more than likely at some point get much bigger, and would then be cause for the teenagers with ‘supposed attitude difficulties’ to call down their mighty robot Zords who could transform and combine to become a much larger fighting machine to which they would then be able to defeat the greater monster.

Megazord

The show was produced in a relatively simple way that on the one hand could be expensive in one area, but in the other keep overall production costs down. Basically, the show was actually made up of footage from Super Sentai. Footage from fights between the costumed wearing heroes, as well as the fights between the giant villains and Zords was actually from the Super Sentai show and that was simply slotted into the program. Any shot involving a character not in costume was then filmed and put in alongside it, with any voicing needed for the heroes while in costume being dubbed over. It was a simple way of producing a TV show and has been done ever since, with Power Rangers still borrowing clips from the new versions of Super Sentai and then re-branding them as Power Rangers. In a more simple way to understand it all, it’s sort of like the car industry. Some cars are made outright, while others are the same model with bits changed around to make it look like an entirely different car. In the case of Power Rangers it’s like taking a model from Japan, and then changing the body and the badges: simple, effective and overall potentially nice and cheap.

Power Rangers Suits

Something must have worked because the show was a major hit when it first debuted making stars of its young cast nearly overnight. Some stars of note include Amy Jo Johnson portraying the original Pink Power Ranger Kimberly Hart, and martial arts star Jason David Frank portraying the Green, then White Power Ranger Tommy Oliver. Other stars of the show included the wise mentor Zordon (David Fielding and Bob Manahan), bullies Bulk and Skull (Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy), and series antagonists Rita Repulsa (Soga Machiko and Barbara Goodson) and Lord Zedd (Ed Neil and Robert Axelrod). Another big star of the show though was the theme tune. Something of a near metal like style of theme, very fast, very energetic and packed with the lyric “Go Go Power Rangers”. The production was simple, and so was the formula; however the show worked hard to make sure things never stayed easy, as the Power Rangers would have to come to learn and fight harder over time gaining experience as they go, but also have to come to acknowledge the occasional defeat in order to gain a future victory. As the series progressed, villains would get tougher, but in response the Rangers would get better, as well as receive boosters and upgrades for their mighty Zords which also included additional Zords for them to deploy. In the end, the show was not just about heroes, but also a lesson in the understanding of teamwork. Not everyone though could be considered a fan of the show as many parents considered the show to be rather violent for children to watch it and several complaints were made to the FCC (The Federal Communications Commission). Other issues aired included possible racial overtones in the colours of the power rangers to the colours of actors skin including casting Austin St. John, Walter Emanuel Jones and Thuy Trang as the Red, Black and Yellow Ranger’s respectively. Potentially the show also had an issue in Malaysia, as the show’s use of the word Morphin was viewed as being too similar to sounding like the drug Morphine.

As the show reached ever more dizzying heights of success, toys were released of course, but more importantly some films were made, both of which tied directly with the show at the time of release, however it would be good to say that these said film were as good as the show; which I can’t, because they were terrible. The first film: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie involved the reawakening (let’s move quickly on with this one) with an ancient villain known as (big sigh)…..Ivan Ooze. The plot revolved around the heroes having to lose their powers and then regain them to defeat their biggest threat to date. In a word; it was Pants! A couple of years later however, another film was released: Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie. Now I have only seen bits of it, but I can remember it dually being weird, but not necessarily as bad (however this one was released during a later series). Despite this kink in the armour, the show looked to succeed further, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers looked like it was not going to slow down anytime soon running in total for three seasons. Then it just sort of changed. I had stopped watching the show before this, but the earlier change of characters and Zords was easier to see and understand. Future changes for Power Rangers occurred differently. Basically, out went the Mighty Morphin tagline, as Power Rangers were now not mighty, nor Morphin, some of them were not even of the previous incarnation. It started with Turbo (check aforementioned second film) and then went from there. Future incarnations of the show would become less about having long running programs, but one-off series, sometimes set in different locations and time zones. The characters were different, some colours were different, even the Zords were different. Gone was the Dinosaurs and animals, it went on to become a variety of things including cars, ninjas, animals, rescue vehicles, planes, trains, even insects. Animals and Dinosaurs would make the most re-appearances, but the show was much harder to grasp unlike its previous Mighty Morphin stage which simply continued rather than ended.

Some of the show’s later depictions would actually draw me back into it. Originally starting with Lightspeed Rescue, this new form was rather interesting as a bunch of rescue service…..teenagers would fight a horde of demons trying to take over the world. The show had some interesting new characters like Kelsey (Sasha Williams), as well as some interesting stories like the Titanium Ranger (Rhett Fisher) and his Snake Tattoo. Although looking back at it now I can see that the villains could have done with some more work as their quivering lips did not really hold much to the imagination, but they still looked pretty creepy though. I would actually continue to watch Power Rangers for a few more versions, but the only ones that really did anything for me were Lightspeed Rescue, Wild Force and Dino Thunder. After that I just stopped again, pretty much as soon as I saw that human dog thing in S.P.D. 

Zen Aku Flute

Even if you continued watching it, stopped or never saw it, Power Rangers as a franchise is still going to this day, all be it a very scattered one which is hard to keep a grasp on due to its changes of theme and story. Or could this be more due to the changes in Super Sentai. Could it be that the show changed on purpose, because the show it was being borrowed from was changing constantly, or could it be that unless it did change, it would grow stale and lose popularity? Maybe we will never know…well actually we can because according to Wikipedia: Power Rangers “In Space was a turning point for the Power Rangers franchise, as the season brought closure to six seasons of plot, and it ended the practice of having regular cast members act in consecutive seasons”.  Anyway, the show may have changed some levels of production, but others it did not. The show over the last 20 years has continued to borrow footage from Super Sentai and since its inception; Saban Entertainment has continued to produce the show except for a seven-year period when it was sold to Walt Disney, only having regained control of the show in 2010.

Power Rangers Kira

When I first heard that a film was being produced of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, I was instantly interested. Back in 2013, while waiting for Pacific Rim to be released, a friend of mine sent me a link to a Power Rangers inspired rip on the film’s trailer, even going as to put the music from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the background. Just over a year later I watched that trailer version again, and from looking at the effects in the trailer for the Pacific Rim Jaegers, I saw that there was potential for a new Power Rangers film and wanted to do one. So, I was a bit miffed when one was announced, and I wasn’t involved. Anyway I thought that with all these new glossy special effects that we have today, that with some real talent as well as critical yet creative thought that a new Power Rangers Movie could have some real potential. So far we know that the film is being filmed and is due for release next year, and we have already been teased with images of possible Zords and the choice of suits for this film. We have even been provided with cast names including two big Hollywood stars in the form of Elizabeth Banks playing Rita Repulsa and Bryan Cranston (ironically) playing Zordon. From what has been announced and teased so far there is actually a lot to be excited about with this new Power Rangers film and it does show a lot of potential. So why is it then that whenever I think about it, I get this niggling little doubt that this film is going to fail catastrophically.

New Power Rangers Suits

When the idea was first thought about, I knew that the one thing that had to be done above all others for a big budget Power Rangers movie to work was that it had to be its own story. It could not in any way be connected to the TV Shows at the time (which was initially the plan). It had to be independent, and not rely on people needing to watch a specific storyline or episode from a show that they had all but forgotten about. Luckily the film is promising this; it’s stated that it will be a reboot of the original series. Same characters perhaps, but not the same actors, a new fresh start and a film that could be picked up to begin with at least, from the first frame; first box ticked, good start. You can forgive me though for thinking that a new Power Rangers movie though could cause an element of self-doubt, as to date we have already had two PR movies, neither of which was very good. They were both very openly boring with the first one having some of the worst special effects I have seen in any film, had a villain which did not make much sense, a story that did not make much sense either, and bits and bobs that went on to suggest that there is a hero in all of us done in the most convoluted way possible. It was all up in the air and sort of made for a film that was probably made for the purposes of money rather than producing something for the purposes of entertainment. But that is just one bit of the niggling doubt in my head.

Transformers: Age Of Extinction (Paramount Pictures - 2014)

When I think of this film, I feel a real sense of potential. I can see possibilities and dream opportunities. To compare to a product in aid of an image, I would say that the way I can see this film going is like that of the Transformers series which began less than a decade ago. Now opinions for those films are one thing, but when it comes to production value, you can’t necessarily say that the production of those films was not pretty well done. Visual effects have moved on a lot over the last two decades with films and series of mention coming to mind include: Avatar, Jurassic World, The Avengers, Transformers, Lord of The Rings, Pirates of The Caribbean and Harry Potter to name but a few. What do all of these films have in common, all of them are live action, and all of them are big films with varying degree of opinions and reviews but all of which have big and detailed uses of special effects. Whether or not they were any good is up to the consumer, but as to how well they were done in the visual effects department, there is no arguing that they could be considered colossal. When it comes to this Power Rangers Movie next year, one thing is clear, that in order for it to work and really grab people’s attention’s, the special effects need to be as detailed and as polished as this. If it is anything less, then it will more than likely falter. Imagination is something that this film needs to keep on its side. There is no question or shadow of doubt that this film needs to be taken double seriously and effort needs to be piled in to make it as good as possible. It needs to be grounded not overblown, it needs to be quirky not silly, it needs to be light-hearted and funny, not outrageous to the point of terrible. There is a lot that needs to be covered, because like I said before, I really think this can go all the way, and become the new Transformers. With the right detail of special effects, the imagination that this film could produce could have one of two effects, both good. For one it could inspire a new generation of children to get as excited as I did about Power Rangers when it first started, and also, those people who watched the original series could feel a wave of nostalgia building deep inside that would want to make them return and revisit. This in turn could produce a third effect, one which made Jurassic World such a successful film, the effect that those who watched the original series, now all grown up and with kids of their own may want to take their kids to go and see it, therefore bringing back an old audience while creating a new one.

Jurassic World (Universal Pictures - 2015)

The Transformers representation is in the form that it created nostalgia for its original audience while introduced itself to a brand new audience, while at the same time grounding itself, being super serious in its production and even if in the end it was a catastrophic failure, no-one could argue that they gave it a good go. But they did, and it was good (at least I enjoyed it and its subsequent sequels). But that’s the point I am trying to make here, that with due diligence, Power Rangers could meet a similar success to that of Transformers. Special effects aren’t everything, but there is a difference between done well and done badly. A good visual effect is one that provides something reality cannot provide, but still looks real (like Jurassic Park’s Dinosaurs), while a bad one is one that is obviously noticeable and looks rather camp, shabby, blocky, not very detailed and just generally un-aesthetically pleasing to the eye (such as those of the Zords in the first PR movie). At the same time of course, it cannot solely rely on its giant robots as that was never the be all and end all of Power Rangers and so at the same time needs to weave a story of discovery but also create flaws and moments of drama as the characters come to discover their destiny’s while also the need to live in ambiguity and strain this can cause to their personal lives. One thing that could potentially be explored is that while being heroes, they could be seen as vigilantes and a future story could develop as they get sought out by the government and military for the use of their Zords but also to keep them down and answer for the destruction they may cause in saving the day (just a thought).

Power Rangers Zack

Altogether, this new film has a lot to prove. If anything it needs to take a really detailed look at itself and work hard to prove itself. It needs to demonstrate that it has forgotten its movie ancestry and is willing to improve and move on, helping us in turn to forget as well. It needs to take it’s self seriously, and be produced coherently in order for us; the audience to get the best outcome. It needs to target new audiences while also not alienating older audiences; not just those who saw it originally, but those who may be forced to pop along as chaperones to see it. It needs to be all-inclusive and provide a general level of entertainment for all to enjoy. It needs to provide the best special effects money can buy, one so that it looks realistic, and two not to look downright silly. The right effects can make a film a success these days, whether or not the actual content is good or not. If done terribly; well, we have already seen those kinds of results haven’t we? Overall, this film does have a countless deal of potential, but at the same time could create one of cinema’s greatest failures if not done appropriately. In order though for us to stop thinking like that, it needs to start showing itself to us. It needs to show more images, and a teaser trailer sooner or later, in turn providing us with the imagery needed to see what this film is going to encompass and whom it is directed for. I am genuinely excited to see this film and hope that it will be a genuinely entertaining and fun film; but let me ask you this (whether or not you are a fan, or have never even seen an episode): Are you sure you don’t have any niggling little doubts?

GENEPOOL

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4 01 2017
Top 10 Most Exciting Films of 2017 (First Among Lists) | Numb3r5s's Blog

[…] this film so high in this list? I am not going to get too detailed here about this; I made my views very clearly detailed back in September. What I do want to say is that I am excited but still very nervous about the […]

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