Saban's Power Rangers is a 2017 American superhero film based on the original Power Rangers television series, portrayed by a new cast but keeping the main characters that we enjoyed from the original series.
The film starts in the Cenozoic Era on Planet Earth with Zordon (Bryan Cranston) fighting another warrior, the green Power Ranger, Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) that had derailed putting life on Earth in danger. Zordon, The Red Ranger, takes the Rangers' power source, the Power Coins, and hides them while ordering his assistant Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) to perform a meteor strike which kills Zordon and sends Rita to the bottom of the sea, and to give the film some historic context, this is the meteor that vanishes all the dinosaurs on the planet.
It cuts to modern day, with no explanation so we don't really know how much time passed. Here we see the football star of a small town high school Jason (Dacre Montgomery) admitting to some wrongdoing from a failed prank after being caught on tape. He is sent to detention where he meets socially inepts, bullied and disaffected-teen stereotypes Kimberly (Naomi Scott), the Pink Power Ranger and used to be the most popular girl turned mean, Trini (Becky G.) the troubled girl with the perfect conservative family who is questioning her sexual orientation is the Yellow Power Ranger, Zack (Ludi Lin) the Black Power Ranger, the outsider that is too cool for school and doesn't seem to give a crap about anything, and Billy (RJ Cyler) the Green Power Ranger, is the super smart nerdy bullied kid that is also autistic. I'm glad to see the introduction of some of modern time problems that kids are going through right now, sexual orientation, bullying and autism. This is the first blockbuster film to feature LGBTQ and autistic superheroes but it seems the industry is embracing the idea of autistic super heroes, as we saw the introduction as well in the film The Accountant where Ben Affleck plays an autistic robin hood like character.
Jason defends Billy from a bully and from there Billy wants a friendship with Jason, invites him to an abandoned gold mine to explore, where Billy detonates explosives to destroy some rocks, this gets the attention of Kimberly and fellow students Trini and Zack that were wandering around the mine as well. The five discover the Power Coins just as the police arrive to investigate what happened in the mines. While running away from the police their car is hit by a train. The five find themselves at home the next day not remembering how they got home after such a horrifying accident, but something have changed in them and they start to discover their superhuman abilities. Rita's body is found on a fisherman's boat, she rises, and goes on a rampage, taking every piece of gold that she can find in order to raise her minion Goldar to find the Zeo Crystal to destroy the planet. Zordon, who was encapsulated in a wall without his knowledge and awakened by his assistant Alpha 5, recruits five high school students to form a team that must stop an alien army led by the evil Rita Repulsa.
We had the opportunity to talk to the cast about their experience shooting the film.
Question: This is a very action and stunt heavy film. What sort of training did you have to go through, to get physically conditioned for the role?
RJ Cyler: We all trained in our respective living environments. I trained at 8711 with Becky, and it was mostly physical training. The stunt training consists of being able to respect distances and also knowing that your partner in the scene is your partner, and both of your safety is important. You want to keep everybody safe, without bloody noses. And then, we got to Vancouver and we trained for choreography. Our stunt team was really good. They made us safe, and they made us feel safe doing our stunts, even though harnesses are one of the most uncomfortable things.
Naomi Scott: Becky and I trained before we actually got to Vancouver, which was more to do with the stamina to get through the shoot. I don't think it was necessarily purely an aesthetic thing. It was for us to get strong. At the end of the day, we're all playing teenagers in school, and not every teenager looks like Ludi Lin.
Ludi Lin: That's because Ludi Lin is not a teenager!
Naomi Scott: We can only try! So, I think that was really important. For Becky and I, as girls, wanted to look like normal girls.
Dacre Montgomery: Well, I wanted to look as ripped as possible. No. It was a lot of fun. I didn't come from sports, or a physically fit background. Spending two and a half months in Perth, training in the lead up to shooting was amazing. I learned so much about my body, my flexibility and my diet. It was for the stamina to go through the shoot, but also to learn how to be safe, on set. The choreography and the stunts were so important.
Becky G.: I think we should take a moment of silence for all of the teenage girls that fainted, every time the boys posted a shirtless selfie. I grew up in Inglewood, so the concept of fighting was very natural. No. The person you're working with is not your opponent, they're your partner. So, learning how to fight for the camera and learning about safety zones was very new, for a lot of us. But it was so much fun, more than anything.
Ludi Lin: I don't take training as training. It's not something that's hard for me to do. I can do it, all the time. I can do it for half an hour, if I have it, or I can do it for six hours, if you give it to me. But, I learn that sometimes I over-train. The first day on set, when we did some camera tests, they had some problems with my man arms.
Question: Did you guys just work with the script that you were given, or did you go back and rewatch the show for inspiration?
Dacre Montgomery: I just want to say a big thank you to (director) Dean [Israelite] and the studio because there was a huge incentive from the creatives to add our own touch. I'm a newcomer, so what do I know, but I think that was pretty fortunate. We're pretty lucky to have our own opportunity to put our own spice onto the roles.
Becky G.: I made the conscious decision not to revisit the show because I wanted to take that impression that it first made on me, and how it inspired and stuck with me, and build on that. What intrigued me the most, when I first had a conversation about the script and my character with Dean, was that, although these names might sound familiar, you are meeting our characters for the first time. It's taking place now, in 2017, with really relevant and current issues to now, which a lot of kids can identify with and relate to one of our characters, in some way.
Naomi Scott: For me, I just wanted to start fresh.
Ludi Lin: I grew up with the original Power Rangers series, and when I read the script, it struck me as an origin story. We get to go deeper into these kids' backgrounds. For the TV series, people had a lot of time to grow to love these characters through each episode. But within this movie, you really have to dig deep to make them fall in love and relate to the characters, in that timeframe. I didn't go back to the original American series, but I did go back and watch a few episode of the original Japanese TV show and it inspired me to think about how different things could be. On that show, everything was different. The yellow Ranger was a man. That gave me a lot of motivation to actually put my own creativity into these characters, rather than follow some convention or memory.
Question: Elizabeth, does the outfit have a psychological effect on your performance?
Elizabeth Banks: Oh yeah. Of course. For sure, it does, just like all of the hair and the make-up. I wear prosthetics in this movie as well, which I've never done before and may never do again. It changes your role. I like to sleep in the make-up chair because I'm there for four hours. When I wake up and I look in the mirror, it's a totally different person sitting there. I never feel like the character until I'm walking in their boots and carrying the staff and all of it. It changes your body language and how you're perceived in the world and everything. Also, it made my ass look really good.
Ludi Lin: I can attest to that actually. The first time I met Elizabeth on set, she was literally in costume, great ass and all. She says it affects her performance, but it definitely affects our performance as well just seeing the whole thing on display in front of us.
Question: One of the great things about Power Rangers is the diversity, and this film continues that, as we see one character on the autism spectrum and another character who might be questioning their sexuality. What was it like to be a part of that?
RJ Cyler: It was exciting to be able to play a character that was on the spectrum, mostly because it challenged me to learn about something that I had no idea about. It was kind of like starting school over. Also, it rekindled a friendship from my high school years. I called my friends Andre to get insight. Andre is on the spectrum, but he's one of the most brilliant minds I've ever come into contact with. It was really cool to be able to step into that world and do the role justice. It's something a lot of people don't understand, but we're affected by it, in some way. It's cool, just to be able to show how the world reacts to people on the spectrum, and also how people on the spectrum react to the world.
Becky G.: As a new actress, I want to be very aware of what messages I'm taking on, and what message the character is carrying. I feel like this movie is so diverse, in so many ways. First of all, the colors of our skin and where we come from is very different, and that isn't even mentioned in the movie because it doesn't matter. We're all equal, and I think that's amazing. Not only that, we're diverse, as far as gender goes. You have two female leads in the Power Rangers, who are working with three male leads, and we say, "Together we are more. Without one, we're not the same." I think that's awesome, as well. Being all about that girl power, I think it's awesome to know that there's going to be young women watching this and saying, "Hey, she looks like me!," or "I can do that, too!" And then, as far as Trini and her identity issues and figuring out who she is, I think that's something very relevant and current to our generation. We deal with self-identity issues and cyber-bullying. Billy being on the spectrum has a special place in my heart. My little brother, Alex, was diagnosed with autism, at a very young age. Knowing that he's going to watch this movie and be like, "That's me!," and that he can see himself in that character, is all we can ask for, as people, to share a positive message like that. We need that, right now, more than ever, for sure. It's truly an honor to be a part of all of this.
Question: R.J., tell us about your character Billy.
RJ Cyler: Billy is mostly a person who stays to himself. That's why he just stuck to his parents. He didn't try to find friends out there. He lost his papa. (You wanted to tell him) "Billy, there is no progression right now. It's just you and your toys. That's all you have". That's why, when Billy goes back to the mine (where an alien craft is buried), he is looking for more and finds it in these other characters, in the other four Rangers. He could open up to them. He went to the mine to find something to further his connection with his dad. Then he found all of these different jewels and these other people. That's what made that friendship spark in Billy's mind. He's like "Okay, I came here to find this but I found these people. This must be good".
Power Rangers NOW PLAYING in theaters!