Saturday, 4 October 2014

Series REVIEW: Power Rangers Super Megaforce

Power Rangers Super Megaforce

In a move that hadn't been attempted since the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers moved into its second season way back in 1994, Saban Brands surprised fans by announcing that the latest series celebrating the 20th anniversary of the franchise would be adapted from two different Super Sentai series. While the first half, Power Rangers Megaforce, would be based off of Tensou Sentai Goseiger, the second would adapt the following series Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger. Titled Power Rangers Super Megaforce, this is arguably the "true" part of the anniversary celebration as the source was the 35th anniversary Sentai series and thus also suitably jazzed up for the occasion.

Following the Megaforce Rangers defeat of Vrak in the last season (or half-season, depending how you look at it), the alien Armada has finally reached each to carry out its plans of invasion. Completely overwhelmed by the sheer size and power of the Armada, the Megaforce Rangers must turn to the powers of the Legendary Rangers to battle this new threat. Using new morphers and ranger keys to access Super Megaforce mode, the Rangers can then use the keys of the past rangers to access their powers for a short time. Together they show Prince Vekar and the Armada that "Earth's defenders never surrender."

Megaforce suits with Super Megaforce Silver
Spot the odd one out

Soon they are also joined by Orion, an alien from a planet wiped out by the Armada. Gaining the powers of the Legendary Sixth Rangers, he becomes to Super Megaforce Silver Ranger and comes to Earth to seek revenge on the Armada. However they aren't the only problem, as Vrak is still out there and Robo Knight has mysteriously gone missing after their final battle with him. And when the Armada finally attacks with all its might, it's going to take the strength of every Power Ranger to defeat it.

Despite Power Rangers Megaforce being met with little fanfare (possibly even less than Samurai), I enjoyed the season and looked forward to the masses of potential combing its story with the footage from Gokaiger could hold. A series where the rangers were able to transform into the previous rangers is the perfect opportunity, and with a Legendary Battle featuring past Ranger cameos promised there seemed like plenty to get excited about. How wrong was I.

The Dairangers make their Power Rangers debut
What?

Countering all this potential was the obvious lack of effort Saban Brands have put into Power Rangers since regaining it from Disney, slavishly copying the source material, condensing it down to half the length and featuring the worst ADR you could possibly imagine. Power Rangers Super Megaforce takes this to brand new heights as it copies a SUPER SENTAI anniversary as close as possible, without adjusting the source material to match it up with the world Power Rangers has built over the years or remove the 15 years' worth of teams that existed before Zyuranger (the source of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers). If you think an unexplained pirate motif and Jake morphing from the Black Megaforce Ranger to the Green Super Megaforce Ranger was the worst problem this series has, you're in for a whole lot of headaches.

Let's start with the most glaring problem of all with this series - the use of the pre-Zyuranger Super Sentai teams. This series sees the Dairanger suits finally make their Power Rangers debut (something fans have always speculated if it would ever happen), also bringing along the likes of Changeman, Maskman, Flashman and Fiveman along for the ride too. Absolutely no context is given to these powers other than Gosei calling them "new powers never seen before on Earth", along with fairly unimaginative names like Legendary Squadron, Dragon, Lightning, Prism and Supersonic respectively. Not only is it a continuity nightmare that's paying homage to something that was never there, but these changes are also used instead of seeing full changes of actual teams that are part of the Power Rangers franchise. What's worse still is that there is actually NEW footage of some of these costumes as well, as one scene from Gokaiger is changed to feature Mighty Morphin Red rather than Vul Eagle from Taiyyo Sentai Sun Vulcan. So why not do the same for the other four team members? Keeping older Sentai teams in source footage of the Legendary Battle is one thing, but this is a whole new level of laziness.

Super Sentai suits in Super Megaforce
WHAT?!

This brings on to the problems of stitching two completely unrelated series together - that even without knowledge of the source material it's painfully obvious unless you show some level of care. Something Saban evidently did not. With the advent of them gaining their Super Megaforce powers the original Megaforce ones seem mostly forgotten, with the exception of when the show decides to do two-step morphing to remind you that they're upgrade suits (although they can morph straight to Super Mega so it's unclear why they even bother). The zords and weapons are all but forgotten, along with the disappearance of Roboknight after a few episodes of Troy looking longingly into the distance and saying his name. It's also a bit strange that the Super Mega powers are stronger, yet there are clearly Megaforce Ranger keys as one gets used in an episode. Surely that's a step down?

The Megaforce powers do make a proper return in a two-part episode which centres around the return of both Vrak and Robo Knight which is, you guessed it - a story adapted entirely from Goseiger footage. So all the powers they've been using for the last 15 episodes are neatly handwaved away to be replaced by things the Rangers stopped caring about long ago, along with a plot that conveniently takes the Silver Ranger completely out of action. Vrak never once gets to meet or speak with Vekar, despite the show constantly reminding us that they are brothers with some sort of sibling rivalry. It's actually sad to see how painfully forced in these episodes are, because they still come out as the best pair of episodes in the entire series. Vrak is once again a pleasure to watch, beating the likes of Prince Vekar and the Armada hands down. The return of Robo Knight is also rather well-handled, bringing in some much needed GOOD original footage with it.

Prince Vekar aboard his spaceship
Vrak's brother, who'd despite being in the same show doesn't meet Vrak once

Meanwhile things that could have easily been (and ironically, were adapted from) excellent tributes to past series are quickly glossed over. The additional zords are all derived from older Power Rangers shows, with the Silver Ranger's Q-Rex Megazord even taking its name from the Quantum Ranger's in Time Force. But instead of acknowledging these, the show just treats them as things that are just there and new powers are only gained when Gosei says so. Among the early episodes there a few semi-"tribute" episodes - one which features Samurai Red Ranger Jayden and one with Jungle Fury Red Casey. Of course the latter was also written by said character's actor, so it's no surprise that he got a proper episode featuring him.

Tommy Oliver returns once again
Your favourite ranger whether you like it or not

Finally comes the biggest disappointment in Super Megaforce of all - the "Legendary Battle". This is something that had been teased since the very first episode of Megaforce, a battle where all the Power Rangers in existence would face off against the Armada's forces. With this season being boasted as "the most expensive in Power Rangers yet", fans were thinking it was going to be something truly special. The result? A battle that lasts all of five minutes at the very end of the final episode, coming after a rather anticlimactic defeat of the final villain. The handful of past rangers that did make it back (there's a lot of drama behind that which I won't go into here) have barely any lines between them, and obviously that handful includes Tommy Oliver because both Saban and Jason David Frank truly believe that's the only past ranger any of us care about.

Even the battle itself is once again a continuity nightmare. This isn't Super Sentai, so the MMPR, Zeo, Turbo and In Space teams can't logically be in the same place at the same time. Powers thought to be lost forever are suddenly back with no explanation, and the show's only emotional moment is squandered by a surprise appearance with no context. Even if you ignore these things and try not too hard to think about the logic behind the Legendary Battle, its pathetic running time is enough to show how disappointing it is. This is the very epitome of Super Megaforce's wasted potential.

The Legendary Battle
Budget was actually spent removing the Green Ranger's silver helmet stripe. Seriously.

Usually I aim to distance a Power Rangers adaptation as far away from the original Super Sentai series as possible,  but with Super Megaforce this seemed near impossible because it was so concerned with using misplaced aspects of that rather than celebrating its own heritage. Kids probably won't care that much, but as a season billed just as much for the fans who grew up with Power Rangers this is a massive disappointment all around. It's only saving grace is the amazing source footage it utilises, so my only recommendation is this - go away, watch Gokaiger and even if that doesn't interest you in checking out further Super Sentai shows at least you can see what Super Megaforce COULD have been.


1 comment:

Kenny Darmawan said...

Linkara made a review of this, and let's just say, you're right on this laziness, or rather, the bizarre form of laziness.