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Teaser Trailer for Power Rangers 2017 released   Leave a comment

 

…You are now free to breathe again.

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Saban is taking an interesting route with this movie, which is rebooting and reimagining the series from the very beginning. It’s presumed there will be a TV series on Nickelodeon but that has not been set in stone. No question Nick wants to see how the movie does before they commit to a series. The only people Saban might have trouble getting for the TV series are Elizabeth Banks, who plays Rita Repulsa and Byran Cranston, who plays Zordon.

The thing I like about the teaser trailer is just enough is shown to generate interest and give you an idea but not too much in terms of the flow of the story or plot. It feels familliar to those familliar with the original 1993 series but is accessible to those who are not. Saban clearly has a mature audience in mind with the reboot, which is very encouraging. With the movie, you’re able to slow down the pacing just enough to give each of the Rangers a decient amount of plot development.

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Jason, Zack, Billy, Trina and Kimberly of the new Power Rangers movie.

One thing I definitely want to comment on now is the racial makeup of the Black (Asian), Blue (Black) and Yellow (Latino/Hispanic) Rangers. Like the original 1993 series, this was done on purpose. I’m pretty disgusted by those who are pissed the race/color assignments from the original series for two of the Rangers–Black Ranger was Black and Yellow Ranger was Asian–is different this time. Saban got away with perpetuating stereotypes 20 years ago but decided not to rehash things in that way for the reboot.

Saban should be applauded for taking the high road, especially given the Social Justice issues in America right now. That aside, everything else including character names is the same. Trini’s name is Trina since the actress is Latino/Hispanic. Billy is still the group’s genius and as shown in the trailer, he rigs an explosive to the cliff and blows out the Power Coins. Jason has some issues with the law enforcement and moves to Angel Grove with his father (who he seems to have issues with) to get his life back on track. Kimberly has social issues at school and Zack is a bit of loner.

I like how real the Rangers are being portrayed. They each have their own issues that they’re dealing with. Stuff that can related to. Then they have to deal with an enemy from another world that has no problem exploiting their human weaknesses. Based on her comment in the teaser, this is clearly not Rita’s first time fighting Rangers. I’d be very interested in learning more about Rita’s backstory. An easy to miss easter egg in the above screenshot: The Green Ranger’s Power Coin. The popular theory is that battle suit is actually Rita channeling the power of the Green Ranger.

Of course, you can’t talk about Power Rangers and NOT talk about Zords. Pictures of the new Zords have been released but zoomed in. Looks like we’ll have to hope they’re featured in the next trailer. It is interesting to note the Rangers gain superhuman abilities as demonstrated in the trailer. The guys are ripped (Jason basically slaps off a chunk of a sink), they can breathe underwater and they can jump Super Mario style over ravines. Zords aside, it’s interesting to note neither Zordon or Alpha are shown in the teaser trailer. Likely intentional but we can probably expect one or both of them to appear in the next trailer.

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…Now that we’ve looked in the future, let’s go over the original Power Rangers cast for the sake of nostalgia ^_^

  • Walter Jones: Played Zack, the original Black Ranger. Storywise, Zack left with Jason and Trini to attend a Youth Summit in 1995. In truth Walter, Austin and Thuy were in a contract dispute with Saban and left the cast for those reasons. In a 2011 interview, Walter revealed his only regret leaving when he did was missing out on being in the movie. The cast apparently found out 20th Century Fox wanted a Power Rangers movie in the fall of 1994 after the contracts were re-negotiated.
  • Amy Jo Johnson: Played Kimberly, the original Pink Ranger. Storywise, Kimberly left after being presented with the opportunity to train with a famous Gymnastics instructor. In truth Amy left because her contract was expiring and she opted out renewing for another season. At the time she was cast, Amy was actually the most experenced cast member with prior acting experience (1991’s Susie Q). She makes a cameo appearance alongside Austin in Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1998).
  • David Yost: Played Billy, the original Blue Ranger. Storywise, Billy was pulled out of the role of a Power Ranger in the buildup for Power Rangers Zeo because he wasn’t compatible with any of the Zeo crystals. He falls in love with the Pink Alien Ranger and decides to stay on their homeworld, Aquatar. In truth, David was retired as a Ranger but kept in a supporting role on the show for the final year of his contract. David, who is Gay and came out to his fellow castmates pitched having this incorporated into his character to teach tolerence. Saban reportedly turned down the idea in fear of backlash from the network and angry parents.
  • Thuy Trang: Played Trini, the original Yellow Ranger. Storywise, Trini left with Jason and Zack to attend a Youth Summit in 1995. In truth Thuy, Austin and Walter were in a contract dispute with Saban and left the cast for those reasons. Thuy died in a car accident in 1999. According to a rumor, Thuy was on the short list of people Saban was looking at to have an on-screen mentorship role for the new Ranger team in the second half of Turbo.
  • Austin St. John: Played Jason, the original Red Ranger. Storywise, Jason left with Zack and Trini to attend a Youth Summit in 1995. In truth Austin, Walter and Thuy were in a contract dispute with Saban and left the cast for those reasons. Austin later returned three times. First, he came back as the Gold Ranger in the second half of Power Rangers Zeo. He also makes a cameo appearance alongside Amy in Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1998). He returned one more time in the Power Rangers Wildforce Episode Forever Red (considered by most PR fans to be the greatest Episode Ever) where he is the original Red Ranger once again. After his run on Zeo, Austin became a firefighter in his hometown where he works to this day.
  • Jason David Frank: Played Tommy, the original Green and White Rangers. The most famous and most decorated actor in Power Rangers history, you can’t talk Power Rangers and NOT mention JDR. Jason had the longest run of the original team and even stayed involved behind the scenes after his contract expired a shortly after Power Rangers Turbo began. He played the Red Ranger in both Zeo and Turbo and came back as the White Ranger once more almost 10 years later in Power Rangers Dino Thunder. Jason also appeared in the Wild Force Special Forever Red as the Red Zeo Ranger and the Megaforce Special as the original White Ranger. JDR left for good after his run on Dino Thunder to pursue a career in MMA full-time.

…There you have it.

The only former Power Ranger more famous than JDR is Johnny Bosch Young, who became a voice actor after his run on the show ended. How they handled the handover in Turbo was pretty classy: They had the veterans recruit their replacements more or less. This showed with the mentorship aspect before the transfer of power happened. The story goes, JDR and Bosch basically told Saban they wanted Austin to play the Gold Ranger in Zeo and threatened to walk out if they didn’t make it happen.

That’s a rumor I heard in 2004. Another rumor was Amy wanted to come back for the Turbo movie so she was brought in with Austin in cameo roles. Fans of Zeo were likely familiar with Austin but may not have remembered Amy. They didn’t hype up the fact two former rangers would be making an appearance and it worked.

Most of the former Rangers do attend conventions throughout the year though it’s much harder for Austin due to work (I believe he’s with the Sacrememto Fire Department). Amy announced last year at a convention she was moving on from her identity as the original Pink Ranger. Now in her early 40s, Amy recently released her first movie as a Producer and Director. David works in the industry offscreen. Everyone still keeps in touch and they often run into each other at conventions.

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RoboCop 2014: It’s a Reboot but it stays true to the 1987 version   1 comment

The logo for the 1987 version of Robocop.

The Logo for the 2014 version of Robocop.

In recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of reboots of old classics with a new cast and new storyline–Judge Dredd (2010), Total Recall (2012) and Dawn of the Dead (2004) to name a few. When I saw 47 Rhonin in theaters on Christmas Day, I saw this movie trailer:

LEFT: Peter Weller plays Officer Alex Murphy/Robocop in the original 1987 version. RIGHT: Joel Kinnaman plays Detective Alex Murphy/Robcop in the 2014 reboot.

Unsurprisingly, the internet was in an uproar. It was typical “Lulz remake. Remakes suck hur hur!” all over the place. The biggest sticking point for folks leery of the remake is the fact that unlike the original, the remake is rated PG-13.

Having seen both movies, I can say they didn’t pull any punches with the remake. At the same time, it was made clear the 2014 version would both be recognizable to those who saw the 1987 version yet was its own movie. Before I talk about the plot, I will say that as a fan of the Sci-Fi genre much of the technologies shown off in the 2014 version already exists to an extent. The only things keeping it in Movies/TV/Video Games is politics and human rights concerns.

Here’s a few of the technologies shown off in the movie:

  • VR Simulator: In one scene, Murphy is in a SWAT-style simulator competing against an android doing the same simulation. The U.S. Military uses VR simulators to try new tactics before they test in a real environment.
  • Multi-Target Scanning and Tracking: After the VR scene, Murphy is pitted against 50 Androids and an expert marksman to fully test his combat capabilities in a real environment. During the lop-sided training excercise (Murphy wins, by the way) Murphy instantly scans and tracks all of the hostiles and once the battle begins, methodically takes them all down. While yes it’s explained during the test how he’s doing it the technology already exists and is used by military vehicles.
  • Virtual Crime Scene Reconstruction: On his second return to his house after becoming RoboCop, Murphy uses the technology at his disposal to not only recreate what happened but to uncover a surprising new detatail: His son witnessed the blast that nearly killed him. Investigators and prosecutors do it in court every day across the country. CNN does it with acts of violence and high-profile military operations, most recently with the Osama bin Laden raid.
  • Real Time CCTV Access: When he returns to the streets of Detroit as Robocop, Murphy is able to pull up and view live footage of every CCTV camera feed in the city through his visor. Believe me, the technology does exist but this is one of the two technologies that you don’t see now due to human rights concerns and also because let’s face it, we’re talking tens if not hundreds of thousands of cameras all over an American city. Even if you fully automated the system you’d still need to hire some folks to maintain it, hence the human rights concerns.
  • Instant Access to Criminal Records and Case Files: Due to being mostly machine, Murphy has all Detroit’s Criminal Records and case file database downloaded directly into his brain, giving him instant access to the information he’ll need to do what he does. This is also demonstrated in the 1987 version. Police departments nationwide are making digital databases though officers in large cities like Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Miami can access criminal records and case files from their cars and department-issue tablet PCs.
  • Threat, Mood and Vitality Monitor: In both the reboot and the 1987 version RoboCop (and the robots in the reboot) can assess a person’s mood, vitality and threat level just by looking at them. In the reboot this is shown off by robots in the beginning of the movie. The technology is a bit more sophisticated in the reboot though: Basically, if you’re brandishing a weapon you’re considered a threat. Your demeanor while you’re talking to it is used to decide how best to proceed. Vitality and Mood monitors are being used already in the medical field though the Threat detection technology is very new. The thing about the movie is they’re all used toegether and in some cases simultaneously. Even with the human factor present, the technology does present valid human rights and legal concerns.

Whew. Now that I’ve gone over the technology, let’s talk about the movie itself. Again, it helps if you don’t compare it to the 1987 version while you’re watching it. If you set expectations going in you’re probably going to be disappointed. First, let me talk about the sticking point I mentioned earlier about the reboot being PG-13 while the 1987 version is rated R.

I think it would be a fair assumption Murphy’s Execution Scene is the main reason the 1987 version is rated R. In the Execution Scene, Murphy’s right hand and then his entire right arm is shot off before he is shot full of bullets by 4 people at point blank range. Remarkably, he survives getting shot over two dozen times before he’s finished off with a bullet to the head. I’d link you to a clip of the scene I just described but perhaps in a bid to get ahead of fanmade comparison videos, You Tube purged the site of clips of that particular scene of the 1987 movie. No surprise given 27 years later it’s considered one the most disturbing death scenes in movie history.

Now let’s look at the 2014 version. In the reboot, Murphy is nearly blown in half when his car explodes. In the next scene you see him in a hospital bed missing his left arm and left leg. Three months later, when he wakes up his head, heart, lungs and right hand are the only organic parts of him left (interestingly, in the 1987 version the scientists argue about weather or not to keep his left arm during his transformation). The rest of him is mechanical. Though he is more machine than man, as is revealed during his waking sequence Murphy can still dream. Most of his brain is intact but he does have some cybernetic implants that allow him to use his new body.

It’s interesting to note his relationship with his partner is almost unchanged when he comes back. It’s also interesting to see how the doctor who made him RoboCop came to truly care about him by the end of the movie. You will notice in the final scene with them together Murphy now sports the “Old School” RoboCop look and no longer has the Ominicorp logo on his chest.

The biggest change from the 1987 version is Murphy’s family is still in the picture after he becomes RoboCop. In the 1987 version we don’t hear from his family after he becomes RoboCop though in canon comic books it’s simply stated his wife and son left Detroit after he was “killed” and were kept in the dark about what happened to him afterward. In the 2014 version his wife consents to the operation. OmniCorp tried to keep him separated from his family but in the end the human side of RoboCop is the dominent side. He even defied programming that should have stopped him from shooting the president of Omnicorp.

Overall, I give the movie a 9/10. I look forward to seeing where they go with RoboCop when and if there’s a sequel. As I said at the top, it gives respect to the original 1987 movie but makes it clear the 2014 movie is a separate movie entirely.

 

 

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