Of all the nostalgic children’s television programs from the 1990s, Power Rangers is one of the few that can claim to have survived well into the 21st century. The show is currently in its 22nd season, titled Power Rangers Dino Charge and still making use of footage from the Japanese Super Sentai series. Those who have stopped tuning in to Nickelodeon, however, can get their next dose of Power Rangers when the property returns to the big screen in an upcoming movie reboot from director Dean Israelite (Project Almanac).
For those who missed out on the Power Rangers craze, the show and movies are about a group of teenagers who are gifted with special powers, colorful costumes and enormous assault vehicles called Zords, which they use to protect the Earth from the supervillains and monster minions that are attempting to destroy and/or conquer it. So far there have been two tie-in Power Rangers movies and only the first saw much box office success, but according to Israelite the next one could be quite different.
Speaking in an interview with IGN, Israelite explained that there were a lot directors interested in Power Rangers, and that he eventually won the job by putting together “a really big presentation” for Lionsgate. He describes the current status of Power Rangers as being in “soft pre-production… doing a lot of design work and reimagining the world.” What really made Israelite want the job, though, was the script by Zack Stentz and Ashley Miller (X-Men: First Class).
“I read the script and was really surprised by it and thought there was a really cool, contemporary, mature but still playful, buoyant and fun take on the material, and was updated in a really interesting way. It had this wonderful character that’s essential to going on a fantastic adventure. I was instantly drawn to it. I remember it as a kid. I grew up with it in South Africa. When I opened the script I had no idea how it was going to be updated, and I was really impressed by it.”
Those who were fast enough to check out some of the concept art for Power Rangers before it was taken down by Lionsgate will have had a glimpse into the reimagined world that Israelite has planned. Some Power Rangers fans might be a little dubious about Lionsgate’s choice of director, since Israelite’s first feature Project Almanac received pretty cool reviews, and it’s difficult to get excited about his promise of another “grounded” reboot now that “grounded” has become such a tired buzzword.
“It needs to be completely playful, and it needs to be really fun and funny. But like Project Almanac, I hope it’s going to feel very grounded at the same time, and very contemporary and have a real edge to it, and a real gut to it. So I think it’s going to be a fun, joyful [movie] but one that feels completely grounded in a real world, with real characters going through real things.”
Hollywood’s love for gritty reboots was already successfully parodied in Joseph Kahn and Adi Shankar’s short film Power/Rangers, but while that was a fun watch it’s probably best if Israelite doesn’t go quite as dark and violent. The director wasn’t willing to say whether or not the movie will be in the same continuity as the TV series, but he did tease that casting has just begun and that news of who will be playing the new Power Rangers should emerge within the next few months.
Power Rangers releases in theaters on January 13, 2017.