Thursday, March 23, 2017

Power Rangers Premier Countdown: 1st Place goes to...


Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episodes 17-21: Green With Evil


FIRST THINGS FIRST:
 THE MOVIE IS OFFICIALLY OUT TODAY! Thanks for sticking with me for this countdown, it's been a lot of fun reliving some favorite Power Rangers episodes here. Okay, onto the breakdown:




Why are these episodes the best?

Power Rangers was an instant hit when I was a little kid. It took the world by storm. It was not however fully a phenomenon until it reached the 5-part miniseries, Green With Evil. While the show is more often than not formulaic, Green With Evil completely turned everything on its head. The rangers don't have Zordon. They don't have their zords. For a time they don't have Jason. Everything they and we are used to is either mising or unusable. Tommy finally introduced a worthy adversary for the Rangers, and with him, the rest of Rita's gang stepped up their game.

Each episode is a thrilling little adventure that when stacked together gives you something akin to a cinematic feature. At its core, the episode exemplifies "being your own worst enemy" as Tommy is the perfect foil to the goody-good rangers.

Plus, the Dragonzord.


So...these episodes are perfect right?

Far from it. Green With Evil still suffers from all the problems that plagued Mighty Morphin in general; wooden Acting, bad Dubbing, etc. (All of the "good stuff" as it were.) It manages to mitigate a lot of this by being a lot more forward moving with its plot development, and the dramatic irony utilized with the Green Ranger's identity.

There's a lot of Zyuranger footage that was used because it had to be used, and it's really telling. Heck, the entire character of Scorpina isn't exactly that great of an inclusion in the series, let alone this episode. Maybe it's because she's just another general here, as opposed to Goldar's wife like in Japan.

There's also a lot of weirdness with how the script is written. We get a lot of moments of Tommy being threatening, but in hindsight, it would have been even creepier to have him acting normal to try and fool the rangers. The audience knew either way. (Dino Thunder would later do this for Trent/White Drago Ranger, but that created its own issues with the source footage.)


How do these episodes influence the new movie?

I've talked about Rita and the likelihood of her being the previous Green Ranger. If that's the case, there's definitely going to be some similarities between how this movie feels and Green With Evil. (Not the plot or story though.) We don't know if Tommy is in it, but we do know there's a mid-credits scene. If the film gets a sequel, it's going to have to be some kind of an adaption of Green With Evil. What form it will take, we don't know, but we know it's going to shake up the status quo that will be established in this first film.




NOTE: THE MOVIE BEGINS SHOWINGS TODAY (3/23)! IT IS OPEN FOR WIDE RELEASE TOMORROW (3/24)  Enjoy it Ranger fans, this is for us!


Head to Fandango and check for theaters in your area!



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Kamen Rider 2017-2018 Rumored Design- A Sushi-based rider?

This was dropped on 2ch a little while ago:




The text reads Kamen Rider 2017 Design, #1 Maguro Form Body (Tuna Form, the edible kind.) You can see the sushi-inspired esign along the shoulder pads and chest, and the white body color does invoke Rice.

Grain of salt please!!

Power Rangers Premier Countdown: 2nd Place goes to...

Power Rangers In Space Episode 31: Rangers Gone Psycho


Why is this episode one of the best?

Kicking off the Psycho Rangers saga of In Space, this episode is the first time we are introduced to a true, evil team of rangers. In the past, we either had good people under spells, or teams of monsters/putties/clones that were defeated in one episode. The Psychos are not that- they're a force designed to directly counter the good guys, and in this episode, they dominate fight completely.

This is one of the only episodes in the show's history where the Rangers don't really win by the end. In fact, they're trounced quite badly by the Pscyhos, and it adds a nice level of drama to an already tense situation.
The Psychos also set up a plot that will continue until just before the finale- the newly turned evil Astronema wants to destroy not only the rangers, but Dark Specter as well.


Why is this episode not number one?

The episode is nearly perfect, but it does have a few little things that bug me. For one, there are a lot of repeated lines in the episode, for the sake of exposition. Watching as a little kid I never noticed, but seeing the episode now, and having watched it so many times, there's lines that really don't need to be said, or that are said repeatedly in different ways by different characters.

Also, when the Psychos first show up and are disguised as the rangers, the "brown squares" bother me. It has always bothered me in fact. Here are these really intelligent villains, but their perfect design is off by one very obvious thing to fix. It's done of course to match the Japanese footage, and also so that the audience will know who is who...but I feel like it's a really weird way to do it.

Plus....there's a lot of bad guest star acting in this one.



How does this episode influence the new movie?

I've posted a lot about the theory that Rita is probably a former ranger turned evil; there's just too many visual clues for this to not be the case. The most threatening thing for a ranger team and the audience watching is for them to fight another ranger team. Even when that team isn't evil, the level of the battle far exceeds the usual monster of the week. You're fighting someone with powers equal to yours, and thinking ability to equal to yours.

Beyond that, the movie ranger suits themselves have an oddly Psycho Ranger look to them. With Kyuranger doing so well, and Bandai Japan/Bandai America collaborating now, this may be the end of the traditional spandex suits as we know them. And really, after 41 years, it was time to evolve.


NOTE: TICKETS ARE OFFICIALLY ON SALE FOR THE POWER RANGERS MOVIE! THE MOVIE OPENS NEXT FRIDAY, MARCH 24th, with THURSDAY SHOWINGS AVAILABLE IN SOME AREAS. 

Head to Fandango and check for theaters in your area!


We are officially in Premier Week! Today, (March 22nd), Bill Hader will be on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Check your local listings for times! 

Also, IGN will be streaming the Power Rangers Red Carpet tonight at 9 PM Eastern (6 PM Central.) Stars of the movie will be in attendance as well as the original cast of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Power Rangers Premier Countdown: 3rd Place goes to...

Power Rangers Dino Thunder Episode 19: Lost & Found in Translation


Why is this episode one of the best?

Maybe it's my love of Abaranger. Maybe it's my love of the film that the title of this episode is referencing. Maybe I just love when a show can be meta without apologizing for it. Lost & Found in Translation sees the Power Ranger team (Connor/Red, Ethan/Blue and Kira/Yellow) sitting down for a night of hanging out by the TV in their usual hangout/cafe. Eager to finish his report on cultural differences (Connor being a slacker, so it sounds like he waited till the night before to do it) the teens find themselves watching a horribly-dubbed Japanese television based on their lives on the Power Rangers.

So to summarize- the episode is about a Japanese television show based on American superheroes on an American television show adapted from a Japanese television show about Japanese superheroes. That's a level of meta few shows dare to reach.

Essentially the episode is about cultural differences, and how we're all pretty much the same. It also gets to poke fun at the following things:

-Bad Dubs of Japanese TV (both the way they are dubbed and the localized names)
-Elitist Power Rangers fans VS Elitist Super Sentai fans
-The ridiculous situations and monsters Power Rangers deals with on a weekly basis
-Sensationalism in media + America's image in other countries

So yeah, it's a deep episode, if however goofy. And really, if you play the Abaranger theme song in something, I'm going to like it regardless.


Why is this episode not higher on the list?

While it's pulled off very well, the episode is really just an advanced form of footage burning. They took the most ridiculous episode of Abaranger (a show that often parodies itself and the greater Super Sentai mythos) and used it for that ridiculousness, mostly because there would be no other way to fit it in without re-filming everything.

One other thing that's a sticking point for me is that they tease that the Bakuryuu (the zords) speak in Abaranger, but they never show it past Yukito's DinoBrace. (My two main problems with Dino Thunder as a season are that they dumbed down AbareKiller and that the zords don't speak.) It doesn't feel properly explained, nor do the rangers comment/make a joke about it when it happens.



How does this episode influence the new movie?

One of the selling points of the new film is its incredibly diverse cast. Another is that the movie is not afraid to poke fun at itself. It is Power Rangers after all.


NOTE: TICKETS ARE OFFICIALLY ON SALE FOR THE POWER RANGERS MOVIE! THE MOVIE OPENS NEXT FRIDAY, MARCH 24th, with THURSDAY SHOWINGS AVAILABLE IN SOME AREAS. 

Head to Fandango and check for theaters in your area!


We are officially in Premier Week! Today, (March 21st), Naomi Scott will be on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Check your local listings for times!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Power Rangers Premier Countdown: 4th Place goes to...

Power Rangers RPM Episode 11: Doctor K


Why is this episode one of the best?

RPM is widely regarded as one of the best ranger series. It took risks, developed interesting characters and kept a mostly optimistic tone while taking place in a post-apocalyptic world. The episode Doctor K is a cut above the rest, as it introduces us to Doctor K's ( the character) backstory. The acting, its incredibly dramatic rendering of her kidnapping as a child, to her being raised in Alphabet Soup to work on government programs, to finally being driven to release the Venjix Virus (the season's main baddie) on the world is done with such care for the character that it almost transcends being a Power Rangers episode.

As RPM often does, even though the focus is on K, the other characters are still developed through their relationship with her. This is also the first we see of Gem and Gemma, the eventual 6th and 7th rangers on the team. The episode leads us to believe that they died saving K, unless you happened to watch Go-onger and knew what was coming.

Add to that the violin motif played by K throughout the episode, and that they are able to fit in a new Megazord formation into the story line, and an argument could be made that this is definitely one of the best episodes the series has to offer.


Why is this episode not higher on the list?

This episode is nearly perfect. The only things you can fault it for are your usual Power Rangers issues. Doctor K's plan to duplicate the device using the mirror is a good one, but the mechanics are never properly explained, nor why they can't build another. (Surely they can scrap parts from somewhere.)

It's also kind of hard to buy that Tenaya fit into that Attack Bot, but like I said, Power Rangers issues. (The show has long disregarded physics and spacial relationships.)

There's also a lot left unexplained regarding Alphabet Soup. It's not necessarily the job of the episode to do this, but since we never really hear from the group again, it does leave a bit of a lingering question in the minds of fans. (The main one being- what inspired them to make the ranger suits in the first place.) I would love to see some sort of comic in the future or novel tying up those lingering threads. If it were another series, I'd let it slide, but because RPM irons all of its plot points out, it just feels weird.


How does this episode influence the new movie?

RPM is often regarded as "the darkest season" of Power Rangers. Really though it's just the most grounded. It's about the characters, in spite of the ridiculous stuff happening around them. The movie seems to fall into the same idea- If you develop your characters fully, make them real, the audience is much more willing to suspend their disbelief and go on the ride with them.



NOTE: TICKETS ARE OFFICIALLY ON SALE FOR THE POWER RANGERS MOVIE! THE MOVIE OPENS NEXT FRIDAY, MARCH 24th, with THURSDAY SHOWINGS AVAILABLE IN SOME AREAS. 

Head to Fandango and check for theaters in your area!

We are officially in Premier Week! Today, (March 20th), there will be a special episode of Cake Wars featuring the Power Rangers movie on Food Network. Becky G (Trini/Yellow Ranger) will be a guest judge. Check your local listings for times!



Sunday, March 19, 2017

Power Rangers Premier Countdown: 5th Place goes to...

Power Rangers Dino Thunder Episode 27: Fighting Spirit


Why is this episode one of the best?

Often times, Power Rangers does not get to be overly cerebral or deep in its storytelling. The series runs the gambit from funny to dramatic, but Power Rangers is usually very on the surface. That isn't the case with Fighting Spirit. The episode starts with Tommy being accidentally put into a coma when the rangers' tech designer, Hayley, tries to make him visible again (it's a whole thing that we won't get into here.) His Dino Gem (this season's ranger power source), is used as the power source for her machine, and when the machine overloads, the gem breaks into three pieces and Tommy is left in an unconcious state.

While the other rangers battle a monster who negates their powers, Tommy is made to battle 3 past versions of himself, taking the form of Zeo Ranger 5, White Ranger and Green Ranger. It is revealed toward the end of the episode that what Tommy has really been battling is his approaching death. His will to live overcame the destruction of his powers, and the gem is returned to him in tact. Receiving a new power-up, he and the other rangers are able to take down the monster.

Besides just being full of Tommy VS Tommy battles, the episode gets to be really deep. As far back as Mighty Morphin we have been told that the ranger powers are actually bonded to the rangers themselves. When Kimberly is without her Power Coin in Season 3, her health actually declines, and it's implied if a ranger is forcibly removed from their powers, they will die, or enter a state close to death. (Kendrix's death and subsequent revival in Lost Galaxy could be attributed to this; Kendrix died, but her Saber was kept in tact and may have actually housed her essence. Weird times.)

When Tommy's gem splits into 3, it actually splinters his being into 3 parts. Only by beating them is he able to restore the gem to its original form, and become whole again. That's some Kingdom Hearts stuff right there.


Why is this episode not higher on the list?

Power Rangers being what it is, this episode is probably not as great as it could have been. For one, there is not as much tension as there should be in the hospital scenes. I don't know if this was a result of Disney, or just the writing in general, but we never really get the feeling that Tommy is in any danger.

I'm a Tommy fan....but even this episode can be too much Tommy at times for me. I think this was a missed opportunity to develop Hayley a bit. We know why Tommy knows how to do ranger stuff; we see him grow with it. We're just told about Hayley's backstory and her friendship with Tommy. (I guess I'll wait for the Boom comic to explain it all to me.)

The villains are barely a factor in this episode, and that's sort of a rarity for Dino Thunder. Their only purpose is to drain the rangers' powers so they can show they're badass enough to fight without them. While that's definitely viable from a plot perspective, Mesogog is sort of left to just be "Big Evil" here, and that is usually not the case. Plus it introduces the idea of their being other power sources comparable to the Dino Gems...but we never hear from that again.

One sticking point for a lot of fans is also the Green Ranger helmet in this episode. I'm unclear as to what the actual story is, but I think they just didn't have the original prop, and the one that they had was painted incorrectly. It's not that big of a deal, especially for the kids who were watching this when it aired- they wouldn't have been born when the Green Ranger was a thing. For older fans like myself though...it's annoying. Power Rangers has a lot of these moments- the production wants to do big things, but they have so much going on they don't pay attention to key details. (Super Megaforce, in a nutshell.)


How does this episode influence the new movie?

Early pictures from filming of the movie show that Rita is playing mind games with the rangers here. She's not just attacking them physically, she's playing on their fears and their weaknesses; probably because she had/has those same issues. Like I said above, Power Rangers is almost always on the surface. That's fine for the TV show, but this movie has to dive just a little bit deeper into each character if it's going to be all that it can be.


NOTE: TICKETS ARE OFFICIALLY ON SALE FOR THE POWER RANGERS MOVIE! THE MOVIE OPENS NEXT FRIDAY, MARCH 24th, with THURSDAY SHOWINGS AVAILABLE IN SOME AREAS. 

Head to Fandango and check for theaters in your area!

On this coming Monday, (March 20th), there will be a special episode of Cake Wars featuring the Power Rangers movie on Food Network. Becky G (Trini/Yellow Ranger) will be a guest judge. Check your local listings for times!



Saturday, March 18, 2017

Power Rangers Premier Countdown: 6th Place goes to...

Power Rangers Lost Galaxy Episode 18: The Rescue Mission



Why is this episode one of the best?

Directed by creature sculptor and sci-fi aficionado, Steve Wang, The Rescue Mission is probably the most different an episode of Power Rangers has ever been. Taking inspiration from a plethora of Sci-fi thrillers, this episode pits two of our rangers and a group of selected Terra Venture soldiers against an unknown alien threat. Receiving a distress signal from a damaged spaceship, Mike (Magna Defender) is tasked with putting together a rescue team to go explore the ship.

On the ship, his team (composed of his brother, Leo/Red Ranger and a bunch of other red shirts), run into the corpses of the ship's old crew, as well as the alien beast who killed them. This is a big deal for Power Rangers, as it's really the only time corpses are seen. (We've had zombies and skeletons sure, but this is something else.) The alien seems to be protecting/targeting a book that Leo finds in the arms of one of the fallen crew. Mike's team eventually gets captured, and it's up to him, Leo and the other Power Rangers to save the day.

On their way out of the ship, we also get a nice callback to the first episode, with Mike almost sacrificing himself for Leo again (and the book too.) Everyone makes it out okay, and the aforementioned Galaxy Book ends up in the hands of Terra Venture. Said book will initiate the plot for the remainder of the season.



Why is this episode not higher on the list?

There is not a lot wrong with this episode. There's some bad line deliveries by some of technicians in Terra Venture (they sound dubbed over actually) but most of the episode is really well written and well acted.

I think the main problem the episode has is that it's not really a Power Rangers episode;it's something else entirely. This episode feels like the characters from Lost Galaxy ended up in another sci-fi show by accident. While the episode is thrilling, and for the most part, plays heavily into the plot of the show, there are times where it is so off-brand that it takes you out of the moment. I know as a kid I was legitimately terrified of this episode. It's still not the easiest thing to watch, if I'm being completely honest.

Most of this is due to the direction of Steve Wang. He's amazingly talented, but he doesn't seem to quite get what Power Rangers is at times. Wang directed Guyver, as well as the Kamen Rider Ryuki adaption, Kamen Rider Dragon Knight. Guyver goes hard on the gross-out, violent factors of sci-fi, and Dragon Knight pushes the slower pacing found in most Japanese dramas. Power Rangers was both a great fit for him, and a terrible fit. I think it's why he only directed that one episode.

Truth be told, it would be fun to see what he'd do with an entire Power Rangers series....but it might end up like Dragon Knight.

The last problem with this episode is that the origins of the Galaxy Book, the dead ship crew, and the terrifying alien creature are never explained, but then, a lot of Lost Galaxy is left unexplained. It's one of those allowances you have to give Power Rangers sometimes- things will not always be clearly ironed out.



How does this episode influence the new movie?

The upcoming film is not as grimdark as people seem to want it to be, or think it will be. However, it is trying to move away from being mostly camp like Mighty Morphin was. (There will still be campy moments if the trailers are anything to go by.) The Rescue Mission gives us an outsider's look at what Power Rangers could be- dramatic, sci-fi storytelling. The new movie seems to strike a balance between the campy, fun side of Power Rangers and this more dramatic, sci-fi fare.


NOTE: TICKETS ARE OFFICIALLY ON SALE FOR THE POWER RANGERS MOVIE! THE MOVIE OPENS NEXT FRIDAY, MARCH 24th, with THURSDAY SHOWINGS AVAILABLE IN SOME AREAS. 

Head to Fandango and check for theaters in your area!

On this coming Monday, (March 20th), there will be a special episode of Cake Wars featuring the Power Rangers movie on Food Network. Becky G (Trini/Yellow Ranger) will be a guest judge. Check your local listings for times!