In truth, the Power Rangers never really left us. A number of new series, each following a new set of teenagers with attitude and thematically tied costumes, have been appearing on TV every year or so for the last 20 years. But this latest reboot, backed by a collection of rising talents and one of the best effects shops in cinema, aims to restore the Rangers to their former glory.
The new film, Power Rangers, is currently scheduled for release on March 24, 2017. On October 8, 2016, Lionsgate released the first trailer to celebrate New York Comic Con.
The trailer offers some basic setup for the story, with five teenagers discovering a mysterious object that grants them powers.
What else does the new Power Rangers movie have in store? Follow us below for everything we know so far.
Giant robots, super powers, and Bryan Cranston
The second, full trailer for Power Rangers (embedded above) was released on January 19, 2017, and featured our first good look at the title characters in costume and in action.
Along with providing a bit more context for how the film’s high school students became super-powered protectors of Earth, the trailer also offers a nice taste of the massive action sequences that will unfold as the Power Rangers take on the evil minions — both small and very, very large — of the movie’s primary villain, Elizabeth Banks’ sinister Rita Repulsa. The trailer also included the first look at Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston’s character in the film: The Power Rangers’ mentor, Zordon.
Oh, and it also gave viewers a sneak peek at some of the vehicles — including ships, robot creatures, and the colossal “Megazord” robot — that the team will use in their effort to defeat Rita Repulsa.
Basically, there was a lot to see (and the studio hopes, to cheer about) in the second full trailer.
Who are the Power Rangers?
For those unfamiliar with the long-running series, the Power Rangers franchise began in 1993 with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a children’s show that followed a group of teenagers who, in between going to school and volunteering at the local community center, battled aliens who routinely attacked their city of Angel Grove. The teens had special armor that they “morphed” into, each of them wearing a different color. They also piloted giant robots called “Zords,” which could combine to form a bigger robot known as the Megazord.
MMPR was not an entirely original creation. The concept and much of the footage for the action scenes were lifted from the Japanese Super Sentai franchise, with Saban Entertainment splicing in scenes filmed with American actors. The series proved to be a huge success, however, spawning numerous sequel series and moving a lot of merchandise.
Who’s making the reboot?
The film is being produced by Saban Capital Group — an investment firm owned by Haim Saban, creator of MMPR — and will be distributed via Lionsgate. In keeping with the recent trend of hiring up-and-coming directors to handle reboots, the producers tapped Dean Israelite, who last directed the found-footage film Project Almanac. It’s hard to say what this will mean for the quality of Power Rangers; Project Almanac certainly had some cool ideas, but was middling overall, and the film’s style says very little about the director’s skill.
The screenplay has several names attached to it. Among them are screenwriting duo Ashley Miller and Zack Spentz, who previously collaborated on the shows Andromeda and Fringe, as well as superhero films such as Thor and X-Men: First Class. Also writing the film is John Gatins, perhaps most famous for the Flight screenplay, for which he received an Oscar nod. Gatins also wrote the screenplay for Real Steel, which, like Power Rangers, involved giant fighting robots.
Who is in the cast?
The film appears to be a complete reboot, with relative unknown actors stepping into the roles. Playing Jason, the Red Ranger, is Dacre Montgomery, an Australian actor with no notable roles up until now. In the original series, the Red Ranger is the leader of the group.
In the role of Billy Cranston, the Blue Ranger, is RJ Cyler, who played Earl in the recent critical darling Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Assuming the new characters line up with their classic incarnations, Billy is the team’s scientist/engineer, who designs new equipment for the team.
English actress Naomi Scott will be playing Kimberly, the Pink Ranger, who was a snarky valley girl and gymnastics expert in the original series.
Chinese-Canadian actor Ludi Lin will play Zack, the Black Ranger.
Rounding out the team is singer Rebecca Gomez (stage name Becky G.), playing the Yellow Ranger, Trini. Gomez has appeared in several TV roles, most notably in Empire, but this is her first role in a major film.
While the Rangers are mostly of up-and-coming talents, the film does have a couple acting heavyweights to give it some gravitas. In the role of Zordon, the benevolent alien who grants the Rangers their power, is Bryan Cranston, aka Walter White from Breaking Bad. Cranston announced his involvement with the film over Twitter in June, 2016.
— Bryan Cranston (@BryanCranston) June 21, 2016
This is not Cranston’s first involvement with the Power Rangers franchise. Cranston voice two monsters in the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and according to his Twitter post, the character of Billy Cranston was actually named after him.
Another actor of note appearing in the film is Elizabeth Banks, playing the Rangers’ iconic nemesis, the alien witch Rita Repulsa.
Banks’ casting was first announced in February 2016, through a post on Instagram.
The first image of her in costume was revealed by People.
Rita’s new costume caused a stir among fans, with many complaining that it looks too different from the goofy outfit the original Rita wore. For her part, Banks considers the new Rita to be a “modern and edgy reimagining of the character,” according to her interview with People.
In the classic series, Rita was a galactic conqueror who was imprisoned by Zordon. When a pair of astronauts accidentally opened her prison, Rita broke free and targeted Earth, prompting Zordon to recruit the Rangers. Will her backstory with Zordon be different in this new film? That remains to be seen, though Banks did hint that she wanted to give the character a backstory that connects her to the new Rangers.
In September 2016 it was announced that Bill Hader will play Zordon’s robot assistant, Alpha 5.
— Power Rangers (@ThePowerRangers) September 22, 2016
A Saturday Night Live favorite, Hader is no stranger to playing robots — he contributed to the voice of the droid BB-8. Alpha 5 was a much more talkative character in MMPR, so hopefully this role will give him more to work with.
Fans of the original series may notice some absences from the cast list so far. For one, there are no mentions of Bulk and Skull, the school bullies who frequently tried to prank the Rangers, only to be thwarted every time. They were a recurring source of comic relief in the show, but perhaps their brand of slapstick humor is not suited to an action film in 2017.
Also missing is any mention of Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger. In the original series, the Green Ranger was a lone wolf who fought the Rangers before eventually joining them. Played by MMA fighter Jason David Frank, Tommy is one of the most popular characters in the franchise, having appeared in more than five Power Rangers series.
Neither Frank nor any of the original cast seem to be involved with the new film, either. Appearing as a guest on the Audibly Exquisite podcast, original Black Ranger Walter E. Jones indicated that none of the original cast members had been asked to appear.
New outfit designs and Zords
The classic Power Rangers’ costumes were not the most impressive — after all, they were made for a low-budget kid’s show. To beef things up, Israelite turned to Weta Workshop, the design studio that worked on the Lord of the Rings films, to design the costumes for the new team.
First revealed to Entertainment Weekly, the new costumes definitely have a post-Iron Man look to them, with hard shells rather than the spandex of the old suits, and glowing chest plates.
The filmmakers have also released a photo showing the actors wearing the suits, minus the visors.
The first actual glimpse of the new Zords came in the form of posters released by the studio in September. From what is visible in the posters, the new Zords appear to be more angular than the original models.
Rita’s outfit points to a grittier look and feel?
Aside from the names of the characters, the plot and vibe of the film is largely a mystery. Presumably it will begin with Rita invading earth and Zordon recruiting the Rangers. How closely will the new versions of these characters resemble the originals? So far, the cast and crew have been secretive about such details.
Among the initial reactions to Rita’s new outfit, which makes her look decidedly more frightening, were concerns that the new film would take a darker approach to the Power Rangers story. Speaking to Empire, Israelite has stated his desire to make the story more “character-driven.” In regards to tone, he claims that the script presents a “mature but still playful, buoyant and fun take on the material,” according to an interview with IGN.
The only photos released that give any hint about story are images of Rita in action, such as the image below in which she has Trini against a wall.
When will filming be completed? Will there be sequels?
Filming has apparently already finished. On May 28, 2016, Naomi Scott said “And that’s a wrap” on Twitter.
In addition to set photos and the first trailer, several posters are available.
Does this new film herald a bright future for the franchise? Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer seems to think so. During a conference call, Feltheimer claimed “We could see doing five or six or seven,” according to a report by Variety.
We’ll be updating this post regularly, so stay tuned as more unfolds.
Updated on 01-19-2107 by Rick Marshall: Added second full-length trailer.
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