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May 22, 2014

How to Make a Good Power Rangers Movie

This is the most redundant post ever written.

Power Rangers isn’t in need of a reboot or a movie.  (Well, another movie.)  Okay, sure, it wouldn’t be a game-breaker if it got another movie, especially if it got the care and skill -- and to a lesser extent budget -- needed to put something good on the silver screen.  But remember, this franchise has gotten more than just a couple of movies born and raised in the States, and even more than big screen releases by virtue of (and reflecting) its Super Sentai counterparts...if you can believe that.  This is a franchise that’s been constantly and consistently rebooting itself for decades.  Mighty Morphin’ may be the one that started it all, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.  It’s not one isolated story, but one connected (however vaguely) to dozens.

My guess is that with the recently-announced Lionsgate movie (the guys behind Twilight, Divergent, and The Hunger Games -- oh joy), they plan to take out some of the sillier, anachronistic elements and repurpose the Rangers for a modern age.  Except Power Rangers already did that.  It was called Dino Thunder; it had “teenagers with attitude” who were more than just goody-goodies tackling problems in and out of battle (making it on a sports team vs. fighting monsters as per duty, for example), kept a leash on the silliness, and even brought back fan favorite Tommy as a treat to older fans.  And that was it.  That was all they needed to do, and they did it.

That should be the end of it.  But alas, here we are -- and with me about to go into Indignant Nerd-Paladin mode.

My fear with this new movie is that -- as is usually the case -- it’s going to reboot Power Rangers without understanding anything about Power Rangers besides name recognition and broad-strokes concepts.  Worse yet, I’m worried that they’re going to try and “fix” the franchise with this new movie, for fear that what worked in the past -- what made it good, or even gave it its character in the first place -- just won’t work in the present. 

There’s something wrong with that line of reasoning -- that drive to resurrect an old property, but refuse to let it be what it used to be through one dumbass move or another…especially if what it used to be was a core element for a reason.  Transformers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Man of Steel, RoboCop, all those and more -- they’ve all falling prey to the DmC School of Thought.  “Bring back nothing but the name and names of characters, and arbitrarily change key story beats and concepts so that they’re worse than the originals!  It’s BRILLIANT!”

I would have thought that Power Rangers, if nothing else, was immune to the corruptive hand of the Reboot Overlords.  Setting aside the fact that the Super Sentai version is still going strong (and with good reason), not too long ago Saban teamed up with Nickelodeon to put the Rangers back on western airwaves.  I haven’t seen enough to know if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but the gesture is still much-appreciated. 

So Shinkenger -- one of the more popular seasons, and one I personally enjoyed -- begat Power Rangers SamuraiGoseiger begat Megaforce.  Gokaiger begat…uh…Super Megaforce.  And from what I’ve heard, Kyoryuger is going to beget Dino Charge next year.  (No love for Go-Busters, it seems.)  It’ll be interesting to see how they reconcile a show featuring a Red Ranger who transforms by dancing and shooting a battery-powered revolver.  Or how they’ll handle that same Red Ranger, given that in the first episode he gets into a fight with a T-rex mech…and wins.

Not every Sentai series is as…energetic as Kyoryuger.  But damned if it’s not a treat.

You know you're hot shit when the first line of your theme song is "We're the invincible superstars."

The bigger question here, of course, is “How is Hollywood going to handle a new Power Rangers movie?”  If fan reaction to the new Ninja Turtles movie -- itself redundant thanks to the new-ish CG cartoon airing -- means anything, it’s that you’re more likely to scare off or even anger fans by turning their beloved franchises into shambling, modernized zombies.  Sure, that might be enough to make the old guard engage in some hate-watching, but isn’t it a better idea to pay tribute to the audience the movie and its makers depend on for sustenance?  Isn’t it better to legitimately earn and entertain fans instead of a hundred million-dollar swindle?  Isn’t it better to pay respect and tribute to the original tale -- the one that people fell in love with in the first place -- instead of just using the name to pull in ticket sales, and using the two hours that follow to tell a distinctly-shittier story?

That’s what I would have guessed.  But then again, I am pretty naïve.  So I guess there’s just one thing left for me to do: if Hollywood is at risk of making (or is even destined to make) a terrible Power Rangers movie, then I guess it’s up to me to try and come up with a hypothetical version of my own.

And in order to do that, I have to start by making a claim: If you’re reading this, there’s a very good chance that you are wrong about Power Rangers.

Oh shit, that JPEG is contextually appropriate for once!

Step One: Characters
One of the key differences between Power Rangers and, say, Kamen Rider is that generally speaking, PR -- and again, its Sentai counterparts -- has a bare minimum of five guys and ladies in flamboyant suits, while KR in most cases is lucky to get any more than two.  But that’s a positive point for each of them; part of the reason I like Kamen Rider is because it puts focus on a central character and develops him/the plot as needed.  Conversely, the strength of PR is that it has more than enough potential thanks to its typical band of heroes.  Granted each series has the advantage of developing its leads across fifty-ish episodes and not just a couple of hours, but let’s make the best of a bad situation.

The first thing that needs to be tackled is how the movie would handle archetypes.  Characters in Power Rangers and beyond have been slotted into certain roles and traits before -- but of course, what separates good characters from bad is their ability to go beyond the bounds of their archetypes.  They can (and should) be more than just a bunch of points on a checklist.  So here’s what I’m thinking: why not mix and match?  Why not diversify?  Give an audience something they wouldn’t expect from a property that, once upon a time, had some seriously unfortunate costuming choices.

In the interest of space and time, let’s see if I can make this ultra-brief.  Well, relative to my skill set.  

Red: Ashley.  Eventually the team leader, but prior to that her school’s chief nerd -- part of all the silliest/most obscure science clubs, a total teacher’s pet, and more than a little goofy.  Take ½ Alex and ¼ Luke from Modern Family, mix liberally with ¼ Sue from The Middle, and you’re pretty much there.)  Despite her nerdiness, she’s got a good heart and some real integrity, and can be surprisingly dependable in a crisis.

Blue: Farah.  The inevitable lancer-type character.  She’s at once Ashley’s best friend and rival, competing with her across several fields.  She may not always be able to beat her in academics, but she compensates by being an ace at sports, and notably more popular to boot.  A coolly-cool person, but she’s got some real red-hot passion behind her façade.  And before you ask -- yes, she’s more or less what Kamala Khan is to Ms. Marvel.

Yellow: Eddie.  The big guy (and also black, I guess).  He’s the quiet-type, without question -- always sitting off on his own, working on his next amazing art project.  He’s terse and soft-spoken, but what few words come out of his mouth are usually soaked with meaning.  It’s hard to get a read on him and what he’s got on his mind, but he’s still a reliable -- if rigid -- comrade regardless.  (Imagine Android 16, and you’ve got him down.)   

Black: Shane (but usually called “Spider”).  The youngest member of the team, but also its wiliest.  He’s a fast-talking prankster who’s always in and out of the principal’s office, thanks to both his insane schemes and boundless energy.  He’s not exactly dedicated to his studies, but he’s surprisingly quick-witted and well-read -- maybe even more than Ashley.  (So I guess he’s ¾ Luke and ¼ Alex, to bring up that comparison again.)  Is absolutely ecstatic when he becomes a Ranger.

White: Luca.  The oldest member of the team.  A supposed player and passionate lover of women, he’s flippant and always ready to crack a joke (and in fact gets shot down by Farah on a regular basis).  He loves being stylish, but loves having fun even more -- and as such, he tries to keep up the cheer for everyone around him, even if -- to his dismay -- it’s at his expense.  He doesn’t act like he takes being a Ranger seriously, but cut past his laid-back exterior, and you might be surprised.

Okay, how many words was that?   Almost 400?  Right.  Let’s keep going.

Try to keep these characters in mind as best you can.  I’m sure you can guess what I’m going to say about them and how they can be used, but right now we’ve got more important things to worry about.  Chief among them…

Step Two: Plot
All right, I’m going to have to mirror/parrot MovieBob’s recent sentiments that we should probably lay off the destiny angle for a while.  It’s got its purposes, sure, but making it so that heroes (and the inevitable glory that follows) in our stories is decided just because is a quick way to shoot a product in the pancreas.

A look through some of the PR installments over the years -- Sentai or otherwise -- implies that the morphers and the henshins that follow aren’t typically dished out because the Rangers are destined to take up the masks.  It’s by way of merit; they’re the best men and women for the job.  So here’s what I’m thinking: our five would-be Rangers are all students at…well, let’s just call it Saban High for now.  All’s fine and dandy until one day when an alien ship crash-lands in town -- and not long after, other ships follow suit.  Not long after, a mere emergency landing blooms into an all-out war in the streets.

Our five leads are all caught in the midst of it -- that is, the ensuing struggle between the Gearians, the technology-loving spacefarers, and the Archeons, espousers of magic and the mystical.  The Archeons use their superior forces/weaponry to push the fight in their favor, and under the orders of their leader Levias, start making a push to convert Earth into a source of energy, labor, resources, and even tribute.  But Colonel Steyn of the Gearians ain’t havin’ that…problem is, his forces are getting wrecked and he’s running out of options.  The soldier himself has already taken a critical hit, meaning he’s going to be out of action.  Not the best state to be in when you’re smack-dab in the middle of a battle.

But that’s where our five leads come in.  Four of them do their best to lend a hand, tending to civilians, tending to the wreckage, and even going up against a couple of Archeon goons.  Ashley, on the other hand, goes above and beyond; she refuses to let anything worse happen to the Colonel, and as such takes on an enemy ace as best she can on his behalf.  Her act of bravery (or reckless courage, if you prefer) convinces the Colonel to entrust his last resort to her: the Red Gear Morpher, which immediately chooses her to become…wait for it…the Red Gear Ranger!

Or if you prefer, a member of…Kikai Sentai! GEARRANGER!  (Cue henshin theme.)

Following the first of several ass-kicking fights, the Archeons pull out to reassess the situation.  Colonel Steyn -- the sole survivor of the attack -- decides that he and Ashley are going to have to work together.  More importantly, he’ll have to rely on her to fight until he can make a full recovery -- and even more importantly, he entrusts the distribution of the other Gear Morphers to four worthy wielders of the power.  Inevitably, she chooses the other four characters she spotted on the scene, and impels them to team up with her.  They have…varied reactions, but before long it becomes clear that they don’t have a choice.  The Archeons are mobilizing, sending out their aces on a regular basis.  And it’s up to this ragtag team to hold off until the Gearians can call in reinforcements.

And you know how it goes from there.  Friendships are forged, struggles are had, enemies keep popping up because they’re jerks like that, and everybody learns a lesson.  Also, how about a robot mascot?  But not the annoying shitbag sort.  One that’s actually kind of cool.  Like…uh…oh, hell, let’s just make him a robot wolf-man.  He can’t talk, but he doesn’t need to.  Because he’s a robot wolf-man.

Eh, close enough.

Step Three: Setting
My understanding of the PR canon is that in all but a few cases, the Rangers are situated as the protectors of one city in particular.  That’s the best situation we could probably hope for, in the sense that it can add some much-appreciated flavor to the story at large (if used correctly).  What I’m getting at here is that even if the Rangers have Saban High as a focal point in their lives, that’s not enough to satisfy a viewer looking for more.  Granted that was enough for Kamen Rider Fourze, but for a movie?  I’d wager that it’d need a slightly bigger scope.

So how about this: keeping up with the theme of machines, how about making that a key characteristic of the Rangers’ city?  We’ll call it Forge Valley (no relation to Valley Forge, natch), and it’ll be a tech haven -- a blending of the star-gazing sensibilities of Houston, the industrial menagerie of Salt Lake City,  and the wired havens of Silicon Valley.  Lots of factories, lots of machines, lots of lights, all that and more -- with a few touches added for style.  That is, the tech and the structures around them become figures of artistic expression, in-universe and out of it; plenty of cogs and pylons worked into the design, for example, and a certain level of bright cleanliness to the visuals, a la Mirror’s Edge

I suspect that the trick would be making the city feel large, lived-in, and homely all at the same time.  Is that possible?  I’d wager yes; each different set of Rangers has had at least one -- and often multiple -- places to gather, mingle, and get down to business.  So my Theory Rangers could have their high school clubroom and the Colonel’s cloaked ship at a bare minimum, but there are as many opportunities for locales as there are buildings in any given city.  And not even that, in some cases; how about the park?  How about the gym?  Maybe on a rooftop or two, or some site nestled away?

The biggest advantage for working with a machine-loving city is that it could make for some cool fights, and cooler set-pieces.  The scenes don’t have to be static; maybe they could go to a rooftop battle to a brawl on a monorail.    If they’re on the street, maybe one of the bad guys flings a fixated cog like a giant shuriken.  Or if there’s a need for some humor, a couple of Rangers could get punched into a dance club -- and suddenly they find themselves fighting to the beat of some funky fresh tracks.  Lots of possibilities, to be sure.

Although, speaking of tracks…

Step Four: Music
Linkara once mentioned during his History of Power Rangers series that the music is an important part of what makes Power Rangers the franchise it is -- and while that’s true of pretty much any audiovisual medium, it’s definitely a key factor in PR’s enduring success and entertainment factor.  (Linkara even coined the phrase “Wasserman Factor”, named after the original composer Ron Wasserman…and IIRC would go on to count on him for music for a future segment of a story arc.)

I said earlier that I was glad to have PR back via Samurai so that new generations could have their own series to go gaga over.  I stand by that; they have every right to have something new to call their own, not just the hand-me-downs given new (and corruptive) life by those banking on/blinded by nostalgia.  But the problem I have is that they didn’t go far enough.

They may have brought in a new series, but instead of making a new theme song -- the one reason, if nothing else, to at least take a look at one episode per installment -- they just did a remix of the Mighty Morphin’ theme.  That, in my eyes, is an incredible disservice.  It’s like they’re saying the original theme is the only one that matters.  Or to put it a different way, it’s like saying the only music from the Mario games that matters is the theme from level one of the very first game -- despite the Galaxy OST being SO AMAZING IT’S UNFAIR TO A THOUSAND OTHER GAMES.

I imagine that the actual reboot will feature the original theme in some way (an “epic” orchestral remix, perhaps, or a completely-missing-the-point dubstep styling), so I don’t see much need to include it in this theoretical movie.  At most, maybe a couple of notes included in one of the quieter songs of the soundtrack; all the rest is completely original stuff. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to the other stuff; obviously, you can’t have a soundtrack with just one song.  I’d prescribe a heaping helping of “guitars out the ass” for maximum hot-blooded battles, but there would have to be a balance -- an ability to restrain the musicians, in a fight and out of it.  (Not every scene can be a big whompin’ battle, after all.)  As such, I can’t help but think back to the soundtrack for Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children, and its ability to get those pulse-pounding tracks along with some genuinely quiet, gentle pieces. 

So yes, Nobuo Uematsu would be a pretty damn good choice for a composer -- which I’d assume would pretty much be the case in any scenario -- but if we’re going for practiced (and practical) western song weavers, then I’d have to put up Alan Silvestri for nomination.  He’s long since proved himself with the scores for Captain America and The Avengers, creating memorable tunes and leitmotifs that can no longer be divorced from their movies of origin.  Given that, can you imagine what he and his crew could do if you gave him full access to an armada of electric guitars?  Just imagine what would happen if this song rocked the hell out.

All right, enough faffing about.  Let’s get serious.

Step Five: Tone and Depth
Approximately twenty three hundred words ago, you may remember that I claimed that there was a good chance you’re wrong about Power Rangers.  I would assume that if you’re reading this blog, you’re intelligent enough not to fall into the expected (and faulty) line of reasoning.  But for argument’s sake, let me be perfectly upfront.

Power Rangers is more than just camp.

I repeat.  Power Rangers is more than just camp. It’s more than just a way to fill up air time, or sell toys to kids, or show off super-stylized violence (even if that is the best kind, but that’s neither here nor there.)  In all fairness, those are components of the property -- of the mission statement, perhaps -- but the sum of its parts creates a whole that surpasses its hunt for consumer dollars.  I would think that that’s been proven time and time again…because it wouldn’t be here if it didn’t.

Whether it was from seasons past or present, east or west, there’s no mistaking that there was an honest attempt to try and tell a story to entertain the masses.  To earn fame and fortune the right way: by building loyalty through the quality of the product, not just a “because it’s there, so you should buy in” mentality.  The faults and issues and dark designs are more apparent when you’re an outsider looking in, i.e. someone who’s learned enough to realize that things aren’t as simple or as pure-hearted as you once believed.  Corporations -- creative or not -- exist to make money, and they need to take action to make that happen.

But ask yourself one question, whether you were/are a PR/Sentai fan or not: when you’re watching your favorite show and having a good time, do you really, truly, honestly give a shit about the money it’s making for its crew and companies?  Do you care how popular Game of Thrones is while watching Game of Thrones?  Or are you more focused on watching it and enjoying what goes on?  Do you care about the ads and commercials between furiously-watched reruns of How I Met Your Mother?  No, of course not -- because the things you like reach out to you.  They become something more than just cash-grabs; they’re stories with worlds that you’re itching to dive back into, time and time again, independent of the soul-rending attractiveness of Allyson Hannigan.

With a handful of Kamen Rider installments under my belt, I understand the appeal.  I understand that each of those shows did their absolute damnedest to -- and managed to -- become more than just a way to keep the money machine going.  They told their stories as best they could, and in doing so, even with their penchant for men in bug-masked suits, they became something more.  They became something more for me, and they sure as hell became something more for the target audience.  They want the merchandise because they want to get closer to those stories that have entranced them so.  They want to be a part of it, however incompletely. 

A good PR movie will understand that.  More to the point, a good PR movie will deliver on the promise and potential, and make dreams come true.  It’s a chance to turn the ideal form into something real -- deliver on the story, deliver on the scope, deliver on the spectacle, deliver on the style, all of that and more.  It’s a chance for viewers of all ages and all walks of life to willingly, and gleefully step away from cynicism-bred perspectives, if only for a couple of hours.  Make them leave reality behind -- and give them something to believe in.

So with all that in mind, let me make the most obvious assertion possible.  A good PR movie must absolutely…



ABSOLUTELY NOT be a gritty reboot.

At the time of writing, it’s still way too early to know just what kind of movie the actual Lionsgate film will be.  That said, if the intent is to make it anything like the studio’s current stable (The Hunger Games at best, and Twilight at worst), it’s going to fail.  Hard.  Even if it makes its money by virtue of curious moviegoers, it’ll be an empty victory when the viewers walk out disappointed and even enraged.  They’ll know that the point will have been missed, even if they don’t feel like articulating why in a four-thousand-plus word post.

So how would a good movie handle it?

First things first: don’t draw attention to the camp.  The suits, the mechs, the monsters, all of it -- don’t even think about pointing out how “silly” everything looks.  Let the audience come to that conclusion themselves.  If there absolutely must be a joke at the conventions’ expense, use it EXTREMELY sparingly.  One or two lines, at most -- and lines that come before/between scenes where more important things are happening.  If you’re going to make a movie about men and women fighting in flamboyant suits, don’t spend half the movie pointing out how stupid it is for men and women to be fighting in flamboyant suits.   Embrace it.  Focus on what matters, and move on.

It should go without saying, then, that this would be a more lighthearted movie -- not an all-out comedy, and certainly not a parody.  Something closer to the Pixar movies, I’d wager (penchant for completely wrecking your soul aside): full of thought and meaning, but ready to have fun at a moment’s notice.  A heaping helping of that fun would probably come from the Rangers themselves, but then again so would a lot of the heart and warmth.  The way it should be; if we can get five Spider-Man movies out there and balance his civilian and superhero lives, we can get one movie out there with a bunch of goofy kids doing the same.    

The bond between them would be one of the main emotional cores of the movie -- and given that the story would progress over the course of at least a month, they’d have to have time to bond, joke around, clash, and learn their share of valuable lessons.  Ideally, that would increase the scope of the movie as well, and create the illusion of many episodes compressed into a single space.  It would present some challenges -- it could make the overall movie feel disjointed or just like a string of disconnected scenes if handled poorly, but let’s just assume the movie would be in the optimal state of execution.

It’s no accident that there’s such a heavy emphasis on machines in this theoretical movie.  Again, Linkara pointed this out in his History of Power Rangers series, but one of the key thrusts of Power Rangers Zeo was the struggle between magic -- wielded by the good guys -- and technology -- abused by the bad guys.  (Kingdom Hearts would use the same conceit surprisingly well…at least until the story decided to shit itself and became about bromances and mysteries created solely by convolution.)  

Back then, I’d bet that it was a way to warn against the misuse and over-reliance on technology -- but given that at this stage our society pretty much can’t exist without technology, I think a bit of role reversal is in order.  So the good guys represent tech and science, and the bad guys represent magic and religion.  The new versus the old.  The manufactured versus the natural.

That’s not to say that religion is inherently evil or science is inherently good.   And indeed, that would be proven thoroughly over the course of the movie (or implied, at the very least).  The Archeons are the invaders, but they do it because they think they have to; their civilization may rely on the arcane, but that still puts them miles above the human race -- and as such, they’re willing to forcibly convert and conquer in order to help humans reach their full potential…even if it’s under their wing.  

But the Gearians know better.  They tried that whole imperialism thing once upon a time, and it didn’t go to well.  So on the one hand, they’re being selfish by not entrusting their machines -- technology that could save lives and even species -- to people that need them dearly.  On the other hand, they’re justified in trying to keep out of what’s going on beyond their borders.

Who do you think gave the Archeons the means to discover their magic?  And more importantly, who do you think drove them to become invaders in the first place?

As is usually the case, neither side of the galactic conflict is completely without fault or their good points.  The Archeons are far from squeaky-clean, but to some extent they’re admirable and understandable, even if they’re the bad guys; hell, some of the stronger ones are literally powered by faith.  And while the Gearians have made mistakes (and continue to make them), their ultimate goal is to make sure there’s peace throughout the universe, and perhaps most vitally, give the human race the chance it needs to develop its own strength.  Don’t give them the answers to all their problems; let them solve them with their wit and ingenuity, so that one day they might surpass the alien races camping on their planet.

So I suppose one of the movie’s undercurrents would be “what is right”?  The struggle between the two camps could spill over into the Rangers’ ranks, and drive wedges between them.  Maybe Eddie sees some hidden potential and merit to the Archeons, and becomes a sympathizer.  Maybe Spider falls in love with Gearian technology, and becomes indebted to them after finding a new purpose in life.  Maybe Luca’s a neutral party, because he’s got more mundane -- and more personal -- things to worry about in his life.  But of course, you’d see the biggest wedge between Ashley and Farah.  The battles, physical and ideological, have more than enough potential to turn their friendly rivalry into irreconcilable grudges.  One misstep on the battlefield -- one injury of a comrade, or worse yet a loved one -- can put their friendship in jeopardy. 

And you know what that means.

Step Six: The Fights
You know, there’s something that’s been on my mind for a while now.  See, a lot of movies these days are pretty heavy on the CG, to the point where it almost feels like when the humans are inserted into a scene, it’s a token gesture…though it can get even worse than that.  (As noted by Mr. Plinkett, see the Star Wars prequels for proof.)  So I kind of have to wonder: if movies are just going to be CG carnivals, why bother shoving in live-action?  Why not just make 100% 3D movies, which we’ve been capable of doing since the original Toy Story

To be fair, I kind of understand the reasoning.  Because otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to get the mugs of the big stars like Johnny Depp or Robert Downey Jr. on the silver screen -- and even if they lend their voices, it’s just not the same.  Or alternatively, we’re still at a point where animated movies aren’t legitimate (good luck trying to get a couple of action-loving manly men to see Frozen or The Lego Movie).  Or, potentially, maybe making 3D movies is much harder and thus unfeasible.

I bring all this up because I was tempted to say that the theoretical movie should be 3D animated.  But then I remembered that Kamen Rider tends to stumble whenever it decides to turn into a PS2 game add some CG stuff to a scene, so let’s stick with live-action, yes?   Besides, it'll be funnier that way, if nothing else.

Part of the allure of PR/KR is the physicality of the fights -- the choreography, and the energy built into them.  It’s what helped make guys like Bruce Lee famous; people love seeing other people fight it out with skill and style.  So why deny them of that?  Deliver on that with a sensible touch.  Get the guys behind the fight scenes for The Winter Soldier and/or The Raid, let them have a pow wow, the carte blanche to make whatever they can come up with a reality, and BLAMMO.  That’s the recipe for some of the sickest fights the big screen has ever seen.  Punches and kicks and jumps and weapon-based combat, and nearly getting slammed in the junk, oh my!

It’s probably worth mentioning, of course, that each of the Gear Rangers would have more separating them besides color schemes and slightly-different costumes. The central conceit of the team is that each of them has the ability to affect and manipulate the machines around them -- so if there’s a steamroller nearby, they can activate it and use it as they see fit.  Drive, dismantle, and even rearrange into some useful tool (so yeah, the CG would pretty much be unavoidable).  Or, alternatively… 

Still, the focus would be on their combat abilities without the technopathy gimmick.  Ashley’s an all rounder (at best), but she’s smart enough to strike enemy weak points with her Wrench SaberFarah’s got above-average speed, and she packs a surprisingly mean punch with her Drill Knuckles.  Eddie’s the strong man, so it’s only natural for him to shake things up with the Gyro Hammer; conversely, Spider’s the speediest of the team, and takes out the baddies with hit-and-run tactics via his Nail Guns.  And Luca’s the stylish one, so he gets to get his groove on with the Screw Lancer.  (Hey, you can be stylish with a polearm.  Just ask Seong Mi-na.)

Of course, not every fight can be on the ground.  I’m pretty sure that one of the requirements for this movie is to include mechs of some sort, so far be it from me to walk out on some much-needed Megazord action.  So with that in mind, do I really need to explain how it would work?  The Archeons use their magic to make their enemy aces gigantic, so the Rangers counter by using their Gear Morphers to will their Mechani-Zords into existence (Red = Cement Mixer, Blue = Pile Driver, Yellow = Bull Dozer, Black = ROAD ROLLER DA Steam Roller, White = Bucket Crane).  Together, they form the X-Machine Megazord -- or KikaiOh, if you prefer -- and can use each Zord’s unique part as interchangeable limbs/weapons.

If we must get into brass tacks, though, just imagine Pacific Rim and you’re pretty much there.

Step Seven: The Actual Movie Stuff
Okay, non-negotiable element time: Gary Oldman plays Colonel Steyn.  There isn’t a single sentient mustache man out there who’d make a better pseudo-Zordon than Gary Oldman.  There just isn’t.

Next step.  What‘s going to decide if the actual PR movie is good or not isn’t necessarily the studio behind it (even if that does end up playing a hand in the final product), but the talent recruited.  The vision and sensibilities of the crew and the execution by the actors is going to be what makes the movie worthwhile or worthless.  The question, then, is “All right, who could possibly bring something as wild as PR to the big screen AND do it justice?”  That’s a good question.  And there are a lot of possible answers.  A lot of people could handle it, I bet.  So who do I recommend?

How about the Wachowski brothers? 

Makes sense to me.  Setting aside the fact that they made Speed Racer once upon a time -- a movie which did its damnedest to pay respect to the source material and present a unique visual style -- the Wachowschi clan is also the masterminds behind a very obscure and oft-ignored title called The Matrix.  If you haven’t heard of it before (and I don’t blame you, honest), it’s a movie that had its fair share of fancy fights.  So hey, why not give that power to people who have a proven understanding of how to make something unreal into something…slightly more real?

Okay, so we’re in good shape.  Now, next question: who would play the Rangers?  In an ideal world, the “five teenagers with attitude” really WOULD be teenagers, but I suppose we have things like Dawson Casting for a reason.  We need the best actors for the job, regardless of their age (within reason, of course), so certain evils have to be tolerated.  Now at this stage one has to wonder just where you’d start cherry-picking would-be Rangers.

And at this stage I have to wonder: what are the guys from the Harry Potter movies up to?

I’m not just talking about Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, or Emma Watson (although Hermione as a Power Ranger?  I can dig that).There was a crapload of characters running around in the Potterverse, and now that the movies are over and done I imagine they’ve all been scattered across the four winds.  How about putting the band back together, however incompletely?

Here’s what you do.  Number one: get Evanna Lynch signed on to play Ashley.

Number two: Afshan Azad takes on the role of Farah.

Number three: it’s probably best to move away from Harry Potter.  So you know what?  Let’s try some of the guys from High School Musical -- starting with Corbin Bleu for Eddie.  (He’s already shown he’s got physical skill via Dancing with the Stars, so that’s a plus.)

Number four: you know what?  Let’s just cut out the middleman and make Modern Family’s Nolan Gould play Spider.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand for number five: pull in Skippy Ramirez -- otherwise known as Allen Alvarado -- to put on a show as Luca.  (It could work.  Maybe.  As always, some choices are better than others, so feel free to make your own recommendations.)

Number six: give them some physical training to make sure they all turn into ersatz super soldiers.  Granted they wouldn't be the ones fighting in the suits, but I imagine that they'd have to do some unmasked brawling at several key points.  So why not err on the side of caution?

Number seven: sign on Keith David to lend his sexy-ass voice to Levias.

Number eight: kick up your heels, crack open a can of root beer, and let the money hit the floor.  And as a corollary, the bodies.  Because they’ll be fainting from the awesomeness.

Step Eight: Franchise Baiting
Two words: Psycho Rangers.

Assuming that Ashley and the other Rangers manage to push back the Archeon invasion (for now), there’s always the chance that they learned more than why you don’t screw with the human race.  I can imagine them learning from their rival Gearians, and reverse-engineering their technology…namely, the Gear Morphers, but with a mystical (and menacing twist).  So the baddies may be down and out for the moment, but when they come back for another shot, they’ll have some seriously deadly reinforcements. 

But who knows?  Maybe one of the future Rangers could defect and join the good guys.

Or, alternatively, maybe the Gear Rangers get their reinforcements after holding off for long enough.  The team of five successfully pushes out the Archeons, and the Gearians come in to lend their aid at last.  Except the “cavalry” is anything but; they’re Gearians, yes, but they aren’t quite as willing to be as kind and trusting as Colonel Gary Oldman.  They don’t like that their technology has been passed out like candy, and now they (or “they” being a band of rebels more vicious and less honorable than the Archeons, if need be) want to clean up Earth before the threat of tech abuse.  And with it, the threat of a planet-wiping singularity.

Or, even beyond that, they could just start over with a completely new team in a completely new city -- and the Gear Rangers could come in for some sort of crossover.  Because everybody loves those.

In all fairness, though, there’s really no one way to make a good PR movie.  I’d bet that there are more ways to make a bad one, but for what it’s worth?  My suggestions are just that: suggestions.  Not an ironclad guideline.  Hell, if there was some creative genius out there who actually COULD make a good, dark and gritty reboot of PR without devolving into DmC-level inanity, I’d be required by law to marry them.  That’s the thing about fiction: there are infinite possibilities, as long as you’ve got the will to seek them out.

But there’s one point that can’t be forgotten: just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.  In an ideal world, there would be NO PR movie reboot, because the franchise is in no need of one -- least of all a movie at risk of undermining what the show is actually about.  So if it’s going to be done, then I can only pray that the real product ends up being worth it in the end.

In the meantime, though?  Fans can at least keep their vision in mind.  They can embrace it, and what the show means to them -- and more to the point, they can imagine what a movie could be if it paid respect to everyone involved.  If the movie -- mine, or the real deal -- can respect everyone involved, from the source material to the lowly and put-upon peons we know as the audience, then it’s got a good shot at elevating Power Rangers into something more.  Much more.

It can bring in fans old and new.  It can reward them in a way no other franchise can.  And most of all, it can give them something bigger than a few big-screen thrills.

It can show them what true power is all about.

All right, I’m out.  Now, this is for you.  Enjoy.

The sickest!  Just…just the sickest!

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