How Power Rangers celebrated their 20th anniversary
Recently broadcast the season finale of Power Rangers Super Megaforce attempted to honour the legacy of what had gone before and wrap up the series long battle against an alien armada. With a running time of around twenty minutes this would be a tall order for any production team but luckily this episode would definitely have more hits than misses.
In the previous episodes the Rangers had halted all previous attempts by The Armada to conquer the earth and defeated the Prince who was commanding their forces. His destruction resulted in the arrival of his father, Emperor Mavro who unleashes a fierce bombardment which destroys the Rangers Megazord (their giant fighting robot) and leaves the city in ruins. The population warned that at dawn the aliens will return to finish them.
This series of Power Rangers has been very light in tone so this shift in drama for the final few episodes may come as a shock to some viewers but it really helps to sell how inept the Prince was and how powerful his newly arrived father the Emperor actually is. The last episode boldly opens with the Rangers laying defeated, their bodies injured, their clothes filthy and the city falling part around them. While they struggle to regroup the audience is treated to some familiar faces.
One of the selling points of the series has been the Rangers ability to morph into previous teams but it is only now that the legendary Rangers are seen to still be active in saving the world. Be it a man trapped under rubble, a little boy who has lost his dog or office workers trapped in an elevator they are all rescued by past heroes whose faces quickly change to their helmets and then back again. We know something special is coming but the programme makers tease us by holding things back. Long term fans can’t help but feel a shiver especially at the last legend to be revealed, Tommy Oliver is back and saves a kid from a car with help from his talking short sword Saba (though his weapon doesn’t have anything to say here unfortunately).
As dawn arrives the people of earth, forced to sleep amongst the ruined buildings are awoken by the morning sun and dare to hope that this new day might hold something better for them but these feeling of optimism are soon destroyed as the aliens descend with their robotic army and prepare to carry out their promise to destroy everyone. But if Power Rangers has taught us anything over the years its that no matter how massive the odds, heroes never give up. The team appear and begin to battle the huge enemy force.
Realising their only chance to win might be to take down the Emperor himself Troy (team leader) and Orion (an alien who became the Silver Ranger halfway through the series and has a score to settle with the Emperor for destroying his home world) ram raid the Emperor’s ship and in a superbly choreographed sequence finally take down the enemies leader.
Since its inception Power Rangers has relied on using action footage from the long running Japanese Super Sentai series and the blending of that and American footage has now become almost seamless so credit for the action must go to production teams in both countries. After their victory Troy and Orion return to earth but like all the best stories we know its not over yet!
A huge enemy force of ground troops march down the valley into the standard quarry location (seriously Sentai and Power Rangers series have more quarry action than fifty years worth of Doctor Who) and at long last they appear. Teams of past Rangers are everywhere and they march forward to greet the current incumbents. A select few unmask and front and centre is the most popular Ranger of all time. Tommy Oliver back in the Green Ranger outfit at last. Long term fans will feel a wave of nostalgia at the sight and younger viewers will be left with a lasting impression of how important all the former Rangers are. Special mention to the music here which is stirring and heroic.
The battle itself though turns out to be a bit of an anti climax. There is nothing wrong with the footage itself, the action is fast paced, hectic and dynamic. It’s just all over so quickly and half the legendary Rangers fail to get a money shot moment. After all the hype and build up throughout the series its a real let down especially when you consider how much footage they could have used from Super Sentai which featured the battle in several episodes and a feature length film. We can but hope for an extended edition on DVD. Being just twenty minutes long Power Rangers has always had to pack a lot in to an episode and unfortunately there is so much missing that it doesn’t feel like a satisfying viewing experience.
The battle done, the legends disappear and our heroes walk away. Troy leaves his sword stuck in the sand, they no longer need weapons as victory has been won. Jake and Gia share a moment of tenderness (he has been pining after her the whole series) and the Rangers walk off, into the sunset.