My son is 8 and discovered Power Rangers on Netflix a few years ago and fell in love with it. He watched almost every episode of the series that are on Netlflix, except – strangely enough – the original series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (MMPR). I tried to get him to watch it but he thought it was weird looking.
Huh? Compared to the Dino Thunder series? And what the hell is the Mystic Force series? What is happening?? But I digress…
When the MMPR dropped on TV audiences in 1993, I was working at Rogers Video (Canada’s sorta-answer to Blockbuster) and vividly remember the phenomenon that was the Power Rangers, exploding onto the lexicon. The video store carried baseball cards of the characters and posters, selling them to kids and adults alike. The show was so weird, but it was also weirdly entertaining because, anyone like me who grew up in the 80’s, immediately thought of Voltron.
And we derided MMPR as being a piece of shit Voltron ripoff and yet we all watched it because, ironically, it was a live-action Voltron and it was geek-tastic! Nerds…we’re never happy.
I remember going to the theatre in 1995 to see the movie but soon realized that the show had most definitely jumped the shark, for me at least, and I was done. I never thought about the Power Rangers again until, some 18 years later when my son started to watch all the shows on Netflix. I watched a few with him but soon found myself wishing for death by any means…a bullet, asphyxiation, blunt force trauma. I didn’t care, I just couldn’t handle this stupidity that the later series of Power Rangers had become.
Then last year I heard that a new movie was coming out. Ugh. But then I head it was a reboot and as much as I think that reboots are overdone and uncalled for most times (hello, thrice-rebooted in 13 years Spider-Man!), I had to agree that a reboot of the Power Rangers was needed, especially as there are 20-something versions of Power Rangers. No shit…check it out.
I wasn’t overly hopeful that this reboot would be any good. I mean, I really thought it was going to be a crapfest and I was dreading the inevitable grovelling of my son to take him to see it. But then something weird happened – he still begged and grovelled, mind you – I actually enjoyed it. And I mean, I really enjoyed it. Holy shit.
I know the film has gotten mixed reviews and there are some legitimate complaints about the movie taking too long for any real action to happen but you know what? I don’t care. I didn’t care about that one bit. The movie clocks in at just over two hours and it flew by. And as I sit and write this, I still cannot believe how much I enjoyed this film. But then I remember the reasons why – the messages that are strung throughout are really, really empowering and smart.
One of the characters is gay, but shes not playing up every stereotype you can think of. Instead, she describes what its like to be the “different” member of her family; a perfect family that all fit into a certain mold and she doesn’t. She refuses to conform to her parents’ ideals and she feels like an outcast but knows that she needs to be who she is – to be true to herself.
Another character is autistic. In fact, this is spoken about within the first 10 minutes of the movie when he tells another character that he’s on the spectrum and then describes that his brain sees and understands things slightly differently; however, there isn’t anything wrong with him but he asks and expects that people will understand and be patient with him.
Both of these characters become two of our 5-member teamed heroes and it showed that anyone, no matter their race, gender, sexuality or differences could be a hero. And then on top of that? They cant work as a team and become the heroes, the Power Rangers, until they truly understand what friendship is, that acceptance is not needed but required.
Honestly, I will outright admit that I am not sure if these messages hit home to me because I am a father vs. a non-parent. Would I still have enjoyed the movie if I didn’t view it through the eyes of my son and think of what the narrative is saying to him? I don’t know. I really don’t. But what I do know is that his legs were shaking the last 30 minutes out of sheer excitement (and not, like I had thought, because he had to take a leak).
I really enjoyed Power Rangers. I know that its not for everyone and maybe I am a small minority. But it was fun and above that, it had great messages for kids. And I think that in today’s world of online bullying and undeserved anger and emotional outbursts…I think a good moral message, while kicking Rita Repulsa’s ass, is more than ok.