Uh oh. It looks like those pesky rumors are true. Lionsgate’s upcoming ‘Saban’s Power Rangers’ big screen movie directed by Dean Israelite will NOT be a reboot of the first incarnation, ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ which began airing in 1993. Previously, it was reported that the film would revisit that storyline, which is the most famous and memorable, with a modern sensibility and deeper (and darker) takes on Jason, Kimberly, Zack, Trini and Billy. But it was recently rumored that the movie would actually be a continuation of the TV continuity, which has aired constantly since it began in various forms with different lead characters rotating in with each new updating.
The rumor stated that the cast of the current version of the show, ‘Power Rangers: Dino Charge’ would actually appear in the movie to pass the torch to a new squad. This was despite earlier “leaked” script treatments and casting calls for new versions of the original characters.
Recently, the Twitter and Instagram accounts for the production began announcing the cast for the new generation of Rangers and so far four out of five have been unveiled: Naomi Scott as the Pink Ranger, Dacre Montgomery as the Red Ranger, Ludi Lin as the Black Ranger, and RJ Cyler as the Blue Ranger. But notice that the new actors are cast by their colors not names.
That’s because it appears they won’t be playing Kimberly et. al. These are reported to be their names:
- Scott will be the Pink Ranger, but her name will be Priya Patel. (Scott is part Indian.)
- Montgomery won’t be Jason, but Callum Oliver. (Yeah, more on that last name in a sec.)
- Lin’s Black Ranger will be named Oscar Fernandez. (More on that as well, in a sec.)
- And Cyler’s Blue Ranger will be named Brian Olson.
The final hero, the Yellow Ranger’s casting hasn’t been revealed, but her character’s name will be Teyana Jones. Interestingly, these characters will command the same animal powers and Zords as the original batch: The Red Ranger – Tyrannosaurus; Pink – Pterodactyl; Black – Mastodon; Blue – Triceratops; and Yellow – Sabretooth Tiger.
The first thing that stands out like a flashing RED light is that Montgomery’s character is named Callum Oliver, which happens to be the last name of the most popular Ranger ever, Tommy Oliver, himself a one time Red Ranger, although he is best known as the original Green Ranger and later the White Ranger. Because of his popularity with fans, Tommy (played by Jason David Frank) was brought back repeatedly as various-colored Rangers.
Brothers? A son? I’d bet money on a blood relation!
The other odd naming choice is that of the Black Ranger. Oscar Fernandez clearly sounds like a Latin name, but Ludi Lin is Chinese. If anything puts this naming announcement in question, it’s that.
The movie had been referred to earlier as ‘Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’ but we previously reported that the title had been shortened to ‘Saban’s Power Rangers’. Saban, as longtime fans know, is Haim Saban the mastermind behind the original series, along with partner Shuki Levy. Saban is reportedly tweaking the script, originally penned by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz.
The budget for the film has been revealed to be $30 million, which is fairly low, but considering that the cast is largely unknowns, they are obviously not demanding millions a piece. What the production saves in salaries, it can devote to special effects. The first theatrical ‘Power Rangers’ movie cost about $15 million to make, but that was in 1995, so I’m not sure how that compares.
So, it’s more than a bit disappointing that ‘Power Rangers’ isn’t a complete do-over, especially if you, like I, stopped paying attention once the original cast was mostly gone. Then again, maybe it’s respectful to the subsequent heroes that they aren’t just being forgotten.
The fact that the original colors and animal Zords are being used AND the fact one of the main characters is in some way related to Tommy could indicate that this is a back-to-basics maneuver. After all the incarnations of Power Rangers, we’re seeing a new group take on the same roles as the originals. Hopefully they’ll even rock the same diamond-emblazoned costumes or at least more complex movie-fied versions.
What do you think? Are you intrigued? Or does finding out this isn’t a reboot mean you’re out?
‘Saban’s Power Rangers’ hits theaters on January 13, 2017.