Everything we know about the 'Power Rangers' movie
From new super suits to Bryan Cranston as Zordon, here are the early details on the return of a beloved 1990s franchise.
Are you ready for a return of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? The "five teenagers with attitude" imbued with super powers to defend the Earth became an unlikely television hit of the early 1990s, launching a franchise that included video games, toys and a full-length feature film in 1995.
Now, more than two decades after their debut, Hollywood is once again hitting the reboot button on the Power Rangers. As casting, location and other details emerge ahead of the film's March 2017 release, we bring you a few exciting hints of what to expect.
An original co-creator is back
During the cartoon boom of the 1980s and early '90s, Israeli TV producers Haim Saban and Shuki Levy composed some of the greatest theme music ever to grace a television; from "Inspector Gadget" to "He-Man: Masters of the Universe." The pair also started their own production business, Saban Entertainment, searching for obscure foreign series to re-purpose for the American market. In 1993, they scored their first huge hit with "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," adapted from the Japanese television show "Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger."
While Levy has since moved on to other projects, including the development of an Einstein Museum in Israel, Saban has continued with a prolific career in film production and philanthropy. For the "Power Rangers" reboot, he is serving as an executive producer and has also reportedly been actively involved with script revisions. According to former co-producer Roberto Orci, who left the "Rangers" project in 2014 due to his commitment with "Star Trek Beyond," continuity from the TV series was first and foremost a big part of Saban's requests.
"It's very important to me, because kids around the world know what the Power Rangers are," Orci recalled Saban telling him. "So you can't just come in here and walk all over it. It better be consistent with what I've been doing."
A teaser trailer that sets the tone
New York Comic-Con gifted fans of the Power Rangers with a first look teaser that beautifully reintroduces the franchise. As director Dean Israelite told a cheering crowd, the film is a "grounded, character-driven origin story set to the backdrop of this spectacular adventure story."
While the teaser is short, it sets up the origin story of the five teenagers-turned-superheroes, with everything from vibes of 80's classic "The Breakfast Club" to the scifi drama "Chronicle." And for those questioning the sinister potential of the villain Rita Repulsa, wonder no more. It's clear that this is a mature, action-packed retelling of the 90's television franchise worth punching a ticket for.
A new take on the superhero suit
The original superhero spandex is getting a sartorial update. "The show was about kids coming of age, about metamorphosis,” director Dean Israelite told Entertainment Weekly. “These suits needed to feel like they were catalyzed by these kids and their energy, their spirit.”
In a world where superhero movies dominate the silver screen, he added that fans of the genre can also look forward to a new take on the super suit.
"We’ve really pushed ourselves to make them feel different from any other superhero costume that’s out there," he said. "One key that’s different to the Power Ranger suits is that they’re not really suits that people get into. They’re suits that morph onto our kids, so they already have this almost metaphysical quality to them."
A high-caliber mentor signs on
Heisenberg is back, and this time he's helping some power-packed high schoolers fight off evil.
That's right: Bryan Cranston, best known as Walter White from acclaimed AMC series "Breaking Bad," has signed on to play the role of Zordon, mentor to the Power Rangers, in the new movie. The winner of six Emmy Awards tweeted recently that he was "excited" to take on the role, which in previous "Power Rangers" iterations has taken the form of a holographic disembodied head that helps guide the team through its missions.
Cranston has called the new movie grittier, and more along the lines of Batman's "The Dark Knight." "I remember the television series was kind of farcical and silly and ‘pow’ and ‘zow,'" Cranston told the Huffington Post. "This is as different a reimagining as the ‘Batman’ television series as it became the ‘Batman’ movie series. You can’t compare those two, and nor can you compare this movie version of the ‘Power Rangers’ to that television series.”
Surprisingly, though, Cranston's relationship to the franchise is not new. He also voiced two characters in the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" TV series in the '90s.
A modern new look for Rita Repulsa
An evil humanoid alien witch determined to add Earth to her collection of conquered worlds, the original Rita Repulsa was voiced by American actress Barbara Goodson and played by the late Japanese actress Machiko Soga. For the 2017 reboot, American actress Elizabeth Banks of "Pitch Perfect" fame will take on the villainous role.
"It's definitely a modern and edgy re-imagining of the original Rita Repulsa," Banks told People Magazine after a first look of her character was released. "We wanted to give her a backstory that connects her to the new Rangers."
Jason David Frank, the actor who played the Green Ranger in the original series, said in a Facebook post that he thinks Banks looks perfect for the role. "I think she's a great actress, I think she'll be an awesome Rita. Can't wait for the premiere. It's gonna be awesome, hopefully you guys will like it."
That guy with the funny voices will be on board
In addition to Cranson and Banks, another big name star has signed on to star in the movie – although you may have trouble spotting his infamous elastic face. News has arrived that former "Saturday Night Live" star Bill Hader has joined the cast. Hader, who’s never met a celebrity impression he couldn’t handle, will bring his unique skill-set of oddball voices to the role of Alpha 5, the Power Rangers' robot sidekick. He previously supplied the voices for such animated hits as "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and "Inside Out." This isn't the first time that Hader will be voicing a robot on the big screen. He was one of the masterminds behind the beeps in BB-8 in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
There may be seven movies
Liosngate, one of the studios behind the film, is already amped about the film. Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer told industry insiders just how excited he is on a May 2016 phone call. “We are really, really excited about the ‘Power Rangers’ movie,” Feltheimer said. “We could see doing five or six or seven.” According to Variety, he cited the positive fan reaction to the costume reveal, mentioned above, as evidence of extreme audience interest. “We like the doubles area. If you look at the first ‘Twilight’ and the first ‘Hunger Games,’ we were planning for doubles and ended up with grand slams.”
With that many films, the franchise could try to follow in the footsteps of franchises "Star Wars" or "Lord of the Rings."
British Columbia will have a starring role
Props, such as this Angel Grove Police Car, have been spotted around the British Columbia sets for 'Power Rangers.' (Photo: Mel Rothenburger/The 'Area P' Post)
Angel Grove, Calif., the fictional hometown of the Power Rangers, is being recreated in various towns throughout the province of British Columbia, Canada. A six-day shoot in the city of Kamloops recently wrapped, with hundreds of locals applying to be extras in the film. The production will next move for several weeks to the city of Richmond's Steveston Village, a historic fishing center that has been featured previously in television shows such as "The X-Files," "Once Upon A Time" and "Stargate SG-1."
The new faces of the Power Rangers
To fill the coveted roles of the five high school kids-turned-superheroes, the producers tore a page out of the casting for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and sought a group of relatively unknown actors. American Becky Gomez, best-known to her fans as the YouTube-turned-pop star sensation Becky G., will take on the role of the Yellow Ranger. British actress Naomi Scott, last seen in a small role the Mars thriller "The Martian," will play the Pink Ranger. The rest of the team is rounded out by Australian Dacre Montgomery (Red Ranger), Chinese-Canadian Ludi Lin (Black Ranger) and American RJ Clyer (Blue Ranger).
In addition to Elizabeth Banks who brings star power, the cast was also recently joined by former "The Office" star David Denman. The 42-year-old American actor will play Sam Scott, father of the Red Ranger.
Rejected concept art hints at epic battles
Once the script was completed, the producers turned their attention to finding a director to lead the film. To that end, they received several pitches from filmmakers all around the world. The above art, created by conceptual artists Alex Ruiz and Gregory Semkow, was prepared for one of the unknown directors that didn't end up scoring the gig. It features a MegaZord, a bio-mechanical robot formed by the Power Rangers, fighting off some kind of massive creature.
While the reboot likely won't be as dark as the action teased above, Israelite did reveal that, while playful, the film's content will have an edge to it.
"I read the script and was really surprised by it and thought there was a really cool, contemporary, mature but still playful, buoyant and fun take on the material, and was updated in a really interesting way." he told IGN in June 2015. "It had this wonderful character that's essential to going on a fantastic adventure."
The Zords are definitely back
Zords, giant bio-mechanical robots used by the Power Rangers to defeat colossal monsters, have been rumored to make an appearance in the film ever since production kicked off. At Comic-Con last week, director Dean Israelite confirmed it, saying that the production built actual fight simulators for each Power Rangers's unique Zord.
"It felt like these guys were really in these Zords, fighting," he said about the Zord shoot. "I put them in these things, which was basically like being in a crazy roller coaster for 12 hours. I shot so much footage that we broke the record for dailies three days in a row."
According to actress Becky G, who plays the Yellow Ranger, the Zord simulator was the most difficult aspect of the shoot. "I had a hard time in the Zord," she she shared. "Dean caught me praying in Spanish. I just wanted it to be over, it was so hard."
You can now read "The Roar"
As a viral tie-in for the film, "The Roar," the official high school newspaper at the Power Rangers' Angel Grove High School, is now available to browse online. The clever creation, which weaves in your typical high school topics on arts, culture, and the latest fall fashions, also includes a bit more background on the five Power Rangers themselves.
For instance, Blue Ranger Billy Cranston is highly regarded as the school "brainiac," but recently suffered an academic setback by attending his first Saturday detention. Meanwhile, Red Ranger Jason Scott, the school's star quarterback, was shockingly suspended from the football team after a prank went horribly wrong. "Reckless. Disappointing. Foolish. These are some of the words being used by fellow Tigers to describe Jason Scott’s fall from grace," Roar reporter Aaron Burriss shares.
For those of you looking ahead to fashion school, "The Roar" has also profiled Kimberly Hart (aka the Pink Ranger) and her latest edgy look. "Take a page from Kim’s book: whether you’re channeling Gigi Hadid in her latest fashion spread or twirling in your dresses Ariana Grande-style, it’s all about faux leather, zippers and miniskirts this year," The Roar shares.
That's right, friends – zippers are back in fashion. Finally.
The theme song will sound familiar
Fans of the 1990's ear worm "Go Go Power Rangers" from the original television series, will be thrilled to know that it makes an appearance in the upcoming film. A member of London’s Philharmonic Orchestra posted an image from a recording session for the movie to Instagram recently, sharing her enthusiasm for the piece she was performing.
"Got to play the old #powerrangers theme!," Twee_Cup shared. "Felt 7 years old again! Great 3 days work!"
The original theme, composed by Israeli Shuki Levy, will no doubt sound different thanks to its orchestral backing by the Philharmonic, but we're pretty sure there will be plenty of fan humming along in their seats regardless.
A comic sequel is already coming
One week after the "Power Rangers" film rolls into theaters on March 24th, a 96-page graphic novel sequel titled "Power Rangers: Aftershock" will hit comic book stores. Produced by Boom! Studios, the comic will pick up immediately after the events at the end of the film.
Fans eager to pick this one up have reason to be excited. Boom! Studios, located in Los Angeles, recently licensed the "Power Rangers" comics from Saban and launched a new series that's been widely praised within the industry. According to writer Kyle Higgins, the story is one of good versus evil in its purest form.
"[T]o me, the heart and soul of Power Rangers as a concept is a combination of the ordinary made extraordinary, great power and great responsibility, and teamwork," he told Comic Book Resources. "As kids, we all want to feel special — especially when we don’t fit in."
"Aftershock" is slated for release on March 29th.
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE:
Related Topics: Movies