Monday 4 February 2013

First Impressions: Power Rangers Megaforce

Power Rangers Megaforce

It's here, it's finally here.

After the relatively disappointing combo of Samurai and Super Samurai (from a show perspective anyway), the next Power Rangers series has a lot to live up to. Long time fans were looking for something more original with better actors and a 20th anniversary celebration that could rival Super Sentai's recently past 35th anniversary series. The result is Power Rangers Megaforce, a curious series that will be using footage from both Tensou Sentai Goseiger and Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger. Here is a review of the recently aired first episode, "Mega Mission".

When evil space aliens arrive with plans to conquer the Earth, the mystical Gosei and his robotic aide Tensou summon five "teenagers with attitude" to carry on the legacy of the Power Rangers as the newest team of heroes - the Power Rangers Megaforce. Armed with an array of power cards and weapons, Troy, Noah, Jake, Emma and Gia show evil that "Earth's defenders never surrender!"

Right off the bat Power Rangers Megaforce opens with a bang, opening with what is sure to become an iconic moment for the franchise just like it did across the pond with Super Sentai - the Legend War. Although here its only a foreshadowing dream sequence, it does give fans a taster of what's to come. Brief snippets of new filmed footage sit alongside Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger footage that features the pre-Zyuranger teams that never received a Power Rangers adaptation. How will the series explain them? Only time will tell.

From then on its just a barrage of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. We're back in a high school setting, the team hang out at "Ernie's" (sadly not THE Ernie, as actor Richard Genelle past away back in 2008), Gosei's mentor was apparently Zordon, lines and scenes directly lifted from "Day of the Dumpster". We're only one episode into the series and its playing very heavily on nostalgia, and this is without mentioning the ranger "statues" (aka the Ranger keys from Gokaiger, even if they haven't been called that yet) adorning the new base of operations. Nostalgia is all well and good, but can Megaforce stand on its own strengths too? After all, the series' main audience wouldn't have even been alive when Mighty Morphin first aired...

This season's cast were also a cause for concern, given how bad last season's cast was. As far as first impressions go, our five new heroes are of the usual Power Rangers standard - nothing amazing, but believable nonetheless. Jake and Noah seem to have a good dynamic together, as do Gia and Emma. "Mega Mission" introduces Troy as somewhat of a loner, and thus feels much blander and actor Andrew Gray doesn't instil much life into him either. But its early days yet, and he could grow into a better character much like Billy did in the original series.

The episode contained both unmorphed and morphed fight sequences, the former being something Samurai had severely lacked. It was also refreshing to see the team fight with what skills they had, rather than be proficient in martial arts from the very beginning. Stock footage from Goseiger was well used, although I can see the use of the Japanese-text cards becoming a point of contention. It makes sense to save on new footage costs, but it's happening constantly and is even more noticeable when the cards say one thing, yet the rangers say another.

It wasn't perfect, but this is a brilliant start to Power Rangers Megaforce. It was a fast paced introductory episode that served to introduce the characters, set the scene and was full to the brim with references. All the way through Samurai I kept telling myself that Saban were holding out to make a great 20th anniversary series. I just hope that I'm right and future episodes build upon this.

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