Sunday 21 February 2021

First Impressions: Power Rangers Dino Fury

Power Rangers Dino Fury

With Hasbro now in full control of Power Rangers, the future of the franchise feels pretty uncertain from the perspective of a fan. We know that a new movie is on the way, along with a whole reboot universe being crafted by writer/director/producer Jonathan Entwistle (I Am Not Okay With This, The End of the F***ing World). An exciting prospect for sure, but how this will all take shape - as well as what it means for Power Rangers being an adaptation of Super Sentai, is all unclear. That's still all a fair way off in the future though, and after Power Rangers Beast Morphers ushered in a transition between Saban Brands and the toy giants it's time to see what they can really do with Power Rangers Dino Fury. Adapted from Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger and the fourth dinosaur-themed Power Rangers series, Dino Fury is the first to be produced by Entertainment One - which Hasbro also purchased in 2019.

Amelia JonesAmelia, Ollie and Dr Akana

In Destination Dinohenge, Amelia Jones, Buzzblast vlogger and amateur ghost hunter, goes to investigate the mysterious Dinohenge as part of a feature. Here she meets Ollie Akana and his mother Dr Akana, who are doing their own investigation on the mysterious structure. When Dr Akana is called away, the pair encounter the evil Void Knight - who uncovers a secret chamber underneath Dinohenge in search of powerful energy.

Amelia and Ollie follow, where they find a hidden chamber, a cybernetic dinosaur named Solon and a red Power Ranger in suspended animation. Aiding against Void Knight's attack, they become Power Rangers themselves until Zayto, the red ranger, is awoken, Together they're able to defend against Void Knight, but the fight results in danger for the entire world as the Sporix are released...

Void KnightZayto

Despite Hasbro's promise of such a big shakeup to the Power Rangers universe coming soon, it's reasonable that some older fans would approach Dino Fury with some level of trepidation. Memories of Saban Brands' subpar offerings are still lingering, and although Beast Morphers created a lot of goodwill amongst fans it didn't completely shake off the baggage of its predecessors. Whilst thankfully Destination Dinohenge doesn't display any of the "Neo Saban" era's worst traits, there's still an element of familiarity to its first half. From the forest scenery to the first battle inside of what will become the heroes' base of operations, structurally and aesthetically it feels quite similar to premieres of the last few shows - both Dino Charge and Ninja Steel indulged in forest environments, and Beast Morphers featured the aforementioned base fight. Sure there are probably a limited number of locations the team are able to film at (not to mention that some of these premieres were years ago thanks to the ongoing two-season format), but it would be nice to see a little more variety between them all. But despite this all too familiar start, Destination Dinohenge does develop into something much more interesting in its second half.

But one of the key differences with Dino Fury's premiere is that we don't begin this story from the perspective of the red ranger, and in fact he only becomes crucial to this episode right at the very end. Instead we're introduced to the world of Dino Fury through Amelia - a budding vlogger whose paranormal interests are frowned upon by her employers. Ryusoulger fans will have noted her similarities to Ui Tatsui, which is especially pleasing to see in the show given Mana Kinjo's tragic death last year. We don't know too much about the character yet, but what we do get to see is how well she plays off against Ollie - the son of a scientist yet seemingly a non-believer when it comes to the supernatural. Given how this is a series where we're starting off with three rangers (though this likely won't last too long based on the source material), these two contrasting personalities plus an actual alien is very interesting dynamic to have. And from the little we see of him, Zayto is another character with plenty of potential. An alien who watched his world ravaged by evil who refused to let it happen to another planet, he's already got a sizeable backstory before you even get into the revelation that he's one of (if not the) earliest Power Rangers in the franchise timeline. I know that the casting of Russell Curry (as well as the diverse casting of Dino Fury in general) as meant a lot to POC fans and whilst it's not a subject I personally feel I can comment too much on, if Power Rangers is still able to feel inclusive to fans of all ages and ethnicities then it is doing exactly what it should be doing.

SolonThe first morph

It is presumed that Void Knight will be our main villain from the series, which is a big divergence from Ryusoulger where Gaisoulg was a prominent yet limited villain. Not that comparison with the Super Sentai equivalent should ultimately matter with these shows, but it's always interesting to see where they diverge and Power Rangers shows that take more liberties with the source footage always prove (for better or worse) to be the most interesting. Not much to say here either because he just comes across as a generic bad guy, but the fact he's both unrelated to the main monsters of the show (the Sporix) AND took control of the foot soldiers from Solon's control definitely make him a wildcard. As does the fact that Zayto has already commented on his armour looking similar to that of the Dino Fury rangers, meaning there's probably a deeper story running there.

Though the first morph and fight scene did feel very similar to Beast Morphers debut that's not a bad premiere to take inspiration from, and mirrors a lot of the good we see there. A well-shot and enjoyable fight sequence with minimal banter imposed over the top of it, along with a score that both fits the scene and feels unique to the series. And of course, it's all original footage so that's a big plus as well. But as enjoyable as that sequence is it's all the backstory that comes after it that'll be the biggest item of note to Power Rangers fans - particularly those of the ongoing Boom! comic book series. Further solidifying the connects between print and screen, Dino Fury introduces the Morphin Masters to the wider Power Rangers audience. With Beast Morphers also showing an increased interest in the Morphing Grid this seems like a key aspect the current Power Rangers storytellers really want to tap into - Beast Morphers showed us its potential in a modern setting, while Dino Fury takes us back to its history. Just how much bearing their appearance will have on Dino Fury as a whole is unclear, but it's a story link no one expected to see. 

The Morphin MastersA taste of what's to come

So despite having an air of the familiar about it, Power Rangers Dino Fury has gotten off to a solid start and beautifully teased the potential this series could have. Ryusoulger has a lot to offer in terms of its footage, but Destination Dinohenge showed that there's just as much on offer in terms of original footage and lore-dropping instead. Whether the show can deliver over the next two year is a different question entirely, but this premiere definitely piqued interest enough to want to find out.

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