Though summer is still a few months away, the start of summer movie season is right around the corner. Before we know it, blockbuster juggernauts like Kong: Skull Island, Beauty and the Beast and Logan will be hitting theaters in March. Among those movies with the biggest box office draw is Lionsgate’s Power Rangers, a big-budget reboot of the massively popular ’90s property.
Directed by up-and-coming filmmaker Dean Israelite, Power Rangers tells the story of five teenagers who are granted unique superpowers by an ancient alien being named Zordon. With the help of their giant robots called Zords, the Rangers must band together in order to save planet Earth from the evil Rita Repulsa.
While the movie will no doubt take inspiration from the television series it’s based on, Power Rangers looks to have a string of other influences. The movie looks to be a mishmash of various genres from everything including teen comedies to superhero blockbusters. Below you will find 15 titles we recommend you check out before you chant “It’s morphin time!” when Power Rangers hits theaters on March 24th.
Here are 15 Movies You Need to Watch Before Power Rangers.
15. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie
The first feature length Power Rangers movie, this 1995 installment finds the teenage heroes against their toughest opponent yet in Ivan Ooze, a cantankerous evildoer that seeks revenge on Zordon for imprisoning him thousands of years ago. With their powers lost and Zordon on the brink of death, the Rangers must travel to a distant planet to find the mysterious warrior Dulcea if there’s any hope of saving Earth.
Is Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie one of the best films ever made? Well, not exactly. The dialog is cringe-worthy, the acting is wooden, and the special effects are completely dated. However, for kids who grew up on the massive popular television series, the movie hit all the right notes. There are colorful costumes, creative villains, exotic locations, and best of all, new Zords. While it hasn’t exactly stood the test of time, the first Power Rangers movie is still a milestone in the franchise, and we hope that the reboot keeps a bit of its campy fun when it hits theaters next month.
14. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Another massively popular property from the 90s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles might not have been a hit with critics, but it scored huge points with teenage audiences. Based on the comic of the same name, the movie tells the story of four crime fighting turtles who talk, practice martial arts, and have a fascination with pizza that borders on the obsessive. When their arch enemy Shredder plans to take over the world using a diabolical plot to train child soldiers, the ninja turtles summon their martial artist skills in order to stop him.
Like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is very much a product of its time. Sure, the turtle suits don’t exactly hold up, and most of the humor is aimed at adolescents. But like Power Rangers, the Ninja Turtles movie is a fun piece of nostalgia for anyone who grew up in the late 80s and early 90s. Both are fun fantasy stories about a group of extraordinary teenagers who fight crime using martial arts. The teenagers is this movie just happen to be turtles.
13. Midnight Special
Released just this past year, Midnight Special tells the story of Alton Meyer, a boy with bizarrely powerful abilities and odd weaknesses. One night, his father Roy takes Alton away from the isolated cult that worships him while the US government is hot on their trail to uncover the source of Alton’s powers. The hunted father and son attempt a desperate run to escape their pursuers while trying to forge a better future for themselves.
Directed and written by Jeff Nichols, Midnight Special is a modern day sci-fi film with an old school vibe. It draws inspiration from films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, effectively combining compelling storytelling with entertaining special effects. Likewise, the upcoming Power Rangers also sees teenagers try and deal with special powers while having to face a powerful enemy. It too will likely have a blend of a fascinating narrative with riveting special effects, with mysteries that keep the audience on their toes.
12. The Breakfast Club
John Hughes’ seminal drama centers on five different teens that are forced to attend a Saturday detention together. Among them are an Athlete, a Princess, a Brain, a Basket Case and a Criminal, who all initially want nothing to do with each other. Over the course of the detention however, the five students learn to look past their differences and form a strong bond after opening up about their most personal secrets.
The Breakfast Club is considered by most to be John Hughes’ best work. Rather than sugarcoat the reality of high school, Hughes’ movie sheds light on the dividing cliques and how deep down we all have issues that need to be addressed. Power Rangers is also about the relationship between five teenagers, but rather than spend an afternoon in detention, these teens are fighting giant monsters looking to destroy the world. Still, we hope that the movie doesn’t get carried away with its special effects, and still provides compelling characters like the unforgettable ones in The Breakfast Club.
11. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Writer/director Cameron Crowe wrote this raunchy comedy about Souther California high school students growing up in the early 80s. Starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, and Sean Peen as legendary slacker Jeff Spicoli, Fast Times at Ridgemont High is an interweaving tale that explores the favorite subjects of high school students: sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Between the jocks, the geeks, the hustlers and the stoners, Crowe and director Amy Heckerling manage to paint a hilarious and realistic portrait of the secret life of teenagers.
One of the first movies to completely nail high school and mall life, Fast Times is a look into the life of American youth. The portrayals are so authentic, that the characters in Ridemont High probably remind most viewers of students that they went to high school with. While Power Rangers probably won’t explore certain themes that Fast Times does (particularly the sex and drugs part), it will hopefully paint just a vivid portrait of high school life as good as this teen comedy.
Starring Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix, Explorers centers on three teenagers who discover the existence of extra-terrestrial life. When Ben Crandall, a kid obsessed with alien movies, has reoccurring dreams of mysterious blueprints, he enlists the help of his friends Wolfgang and Darren to help him set it up. To their surprise, they discover the blueprints are a design for a spaceship. Determined to solve this mystery, the friends set off on an adventure to discover who sent them plans to build their starship, and why.
Explorers is directed by Joe Dante, who is responsible for other 80s classics like Gremlins, The ‘Burbs and Innerspace. It follows a group of suburban kids as they discover alien technology, not too far off from where we find Jason, Kimberly, Billy, Zack and Trini in the upcoming Power Rangers reboot. Chosen by either destiny or chance, they too will have to explore a strange alien power to save the world, as well as learning something about the importance of friendship in the process.
9. Man of Steel
Starting with his feature length debut in 1978, Superman has had a long cinematic career. In 2013, the famous comic book hero was brought back to the big screen by director Zack Snyder with Henry Cavill stepping into the boots of the famous kryptonian. More action-packed than any installment that came before it, Man of Steel ushered in a more grounded and faster-paced Superman that laid the groundwork for the DC Cinematic Universe.
While critics were divided on the movie, Man of Steel offered viewers a look into the mind of what made Superman tick. Rather than a savior that Earth instantly accepts, Clark Kent is a foreign alien, an outsider trying to find his place in the world. That realistic approach is one that Dean Israelite will hopefully adopt for his unlikely teenagers turned superheroes in Power Rangers. We still hope a bit of silly camp is carried over from the franchise’s beginnings, but Power Rangers looks to be taking a more grounded approach akin to the approach in Man of Steel.
8. Big Hero 6
Winner of the 2015 Best Animated Feature Oscar, Big Hero 6 is a Disney movie that provides solid action with rich character building moments. Hiro is a teenage robotics prodigy whose brother is killed in a horrible accident. Determined to uncover the reason behind his death, Hiro enlists the help of a giant inflatable nurse-robot named Baymax, who is reprogramed into a fighting machine. Together, they join forces with Hiro’s other high-tech friends to form the fighting squad “Big Hero Six” and begin to unravel a dangerous plot in order to save their city, San Fransokyo.
Though the plot beats of Big Hero 6 are nothing that audiences haven’t seen before, they’re executed so well that it’s elevated to one of Disney’s best outings in years. Like the teenagers in Power Rangers, Hiro and his compadres are novices when it comes to fighting crime. Nonetheless, they have a passion and a common bond that bands them together. It’s a blast to see the members of Big Hero 6 work together using their various fighting styles. Hopefully, the new Power Rangers reboot gives us that same kind of team-based fighting and chemistry so effortlessly presented in this Disney flick.
7. Guyver: Dark Hero
Based on the manga Bio Booster Armor Guyver, Guyver: Dark Hero centers around Sean Barker, an average guy who inadvertently becomes the host to a legendary alien bio-armor known as the Guyver. After thwarting a dangerous group of mutants in the previous installment, Barker must once use the Guyver to vanquish the forces of evil in this 1994 follow-up.
Like the upcoming Ghost in the Shell adaptation, Guyver: Dark Hero attempts to bring a known Japanese property to the big screen for Western audiences. Sure, its special effects are dated, and the acting is a little cringe-worthy, but the film is still plenty of fun to watch. We know that the biggest buzzwords in Hollywood right now are “dark” and “gritty,” but sometimes its refreshing to watch a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Director Dean Israelite has said he wants to take a realistic approach to Power Rangers while still keeping within the spirit of the original show. While we’re not expecting anything quite like Guyver: Dark Hero, we hope that Israelite’s modern update doesn’t take itself too serious for its own good. After all, it is a movie about martial artist teenagers that fight giant monsters using strange alien tech, much like our hero in Guyver.
Director Sam Raimi helped Spider-Man become a household name in 2002 with the release of the webslinger’s first feature length film. Starring Toby McGuire as Peter Parker, Raimi’s film chronicles the famous Marvel hero’s origins as he’s endowed with superhuman abilities after being bitten by a genetically altered spider. Determined to use his new powers for good, Spider-Man sets off to help rid his city of crime, which includes doing battle with a newly arrived supervillain who calls himself the Green Goblin.
In a day and age where audiences are treated to various comic book movies a year, it’s easy to forget the impact that Spider-Man had on the superhero genre. Yes, if you re-watch the movie now it might not stack up when compared to Civil War or The Dark Knight. However, it still holds up remarkably well because it is a terrifically told coming of age story that everyone can relate to.
Power Rangers will also center on high school kids who learn that with great power comes great responsibility. We’ve seen Jason, Kimberly, Billy, Zack and Trini test out their newfound powers and strength by busting kitchen sinks and jumping between canyons, but they will also have the burden of defending our world against a looming alien threat. Like Spider-Man, the Power Rangers will also explore how to balance out their personal lives with their new found powers.
5. X-Men: First Class
With the recent release of Logan, the X-Men film series has been going strong for the better part of two decades through many lows and many highs. One of those highs was 2011’s X-Men: First Class, a prequel that chronicles the early years of Marvel’s famous mutants, more specifically, about the relationship between a young Charles Xaiver and Erik Lensherr before they took the names Professor X and Magneto.
Thanks to the spot-on casting of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender in the lead roles, the film is a creative and critical success that revitalized the franchise. Though the movie has the young mutants face off against a powerful threat, it is really about the journey of these characters trying to hone in on their abilities and find their place in the world. We find the characters in Power Rangers in that same place, recently endowed with super powers and just testing the limits of their abilities. We hope the reboot is just as compelling as this X-Men prequel filled with relatable and interesting characters.
4. Super 8
In 1979, six friends spend their summer making a zombie movie with a 8mm camera. While filming at a local railway depot, the friends witness a horrific train accident. Shortly after, the kids begin to notice mysterious disappearances taking place in town, and begin to think the inexplicable events are somehow connected to the train crash. Determined to uncover the truth, the friends become involved in something more horrifying than any of them can imagine.
Directed and written by Star Wars alum J.J. Abrams, Super 8 is a crazy mishmash of early Steven Spielberg movies with modern monster movies like Cloverfield (which Abrams is also responsible for). While it does have a strong nostalgic element, the drama between the friends is the heart of the story, with the breathtaking special effects adding to the suspense. Power Rangers looks to be a huge special effects spectacle, but Dean Israelite will need to set up a strong dynamic between its core group of players like the one in Super 8. If it manages to set up an investing story that is half as intriguing as the one in Abram’s film, then we can’t wait for March 24th when Power Rangers storms into theaters.
While most moviegoers have come to expect superhero flicks that feature world building and a shared continuity, Chronicle offers audiences a chance to see what it might be like if normal teenagers were suddenly given superpowers. When three friends stumble upon a strange substance underground, they are given telekinetic abilities that enable them to fly and control things with their minds. As they experiment with their powers, one of the friends quickly becomes dangerous, and it’s up to the others to stop him before his power spirals out of control.
Written by Max Landis and directed by Josh Trank, Chronicle is the rare superhero movie with convincing characters and a relatable plot propelled by one disturbed teenager. Chronicle is about as realistic movie about a group of teenagers with superpowers as it can get. The three friends debate on how to use their powers, and what the consequences would be if anyone ever found out. Those are no doubt questions that will be asked in Power Rangers when five unsuspecting high school kids become the saviors of the planet. Hopefully, director Dean Israelite will provide just a human a story as the one in Josh Trank’s stark, realistic Chronicle.
2. Pacific Rim
When giant monsters known as Kaiju start rising from the ocean to wreak havoc on mankind, a war ensues between the hostile alien creatures and what’s left of Earth’s resources. In a last-ditch-effort to save the human race, giant weaponized robots called Jaegers are built to combat the alien threat. Just when it seems that Earth’s defenses are completely wiped out, hope is restored when a former pilot and a new trainee team up to drive a legendary Jaeger.
Pacific Rim is director Guillermo Del Toro’s love letter to giant monster films and anime that features huge, butt-kicking robots. The end result is an exhilarating, energetic ride quite unlike anything else. The monster fights are absolutely jaw-dropping and the enormous scale of the set pieces and action sequences allows the viewer to be completely immersed in the environment, something that hopefully the new Power Rangers will take note of. We know that the Rangers will have a chance to duke it out with Goldar in a newly powered Megazord, and if those giant monster brawls are just half as good as Pacific Rim‘s, we’ll out of the theater happy.
1. Project Almanac
When a group of friends discover secret plans to build a time machine, they naively use it for personal gain and improve their lives. However, they soon find themselves unprepared for the dangerous effects of time travel as their past, present and future start to fall apart with disastrous results. The teenagers must then travel back to their past to prevent the destruction of their future.
Project Almanac is director Dean Israelite’s first attempt at a feature length movie, and for the most part he succeeds. Borrowing from other time travel romps like Back to the Future and The Butterfly Effect, Almanac tips its hat to what came before it while providing something new to the genre. The writing is clever and surprisingly funny, letting the characters take center stage rather than focusing on expositional plot points about time travel.
With just one movie under his belt, it will be interesting to see how Israelite’s Power Rangers will turn out. Project Almanac proved that the director is more than capable of providing audiences with a compelling story. He’s also proved how to create relatable teenage characters, which will also be the focal point of his superhero reboot. If Project Almanac is anything to go by, we can’t wait to see what Israelite and the rest of the crew has in store when Power Rangers hits theaters on March 24th.