Arguably the most anticipated special of all time for the Power Rangers brand will release tomorrow, April 19th 2023, for the entire world with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once and Always, a special near-hour-long 30th anniversary celebration of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. With special thanks to eOne, Hasbro, and Netflix, we were granted an opportunity to review the special early to provide our fellow fans with our thoughts and overall review. The following is our non-spoiler review where we will talk about certain parts but without spoiling any specific details or story elements.
Obviously the best way to enjoy Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once and Always is to go in 100% blind, so please only continue if you don’t mind having the most basic of elements (ie: “was this good/bad, etc.”) notated.
The best way to describe Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once and Always is to quite literally cut it in half. The first half works to hype you up and re-establish the characters you watched 30 years ago, while the second half works to really focus on the new character (Minh) and build up to the climax of the special.
The first half is spectacular. It is hard to be critical when you have rose-tinted glasses and the nostalgia is literally hitting you in the face. Seeing Billy (David Yost) return, followed immediately thereafter by Zack (Walter Jones), and jamming out to Ron Wasserman’s “Go Go Power Rangers Redux” song while enjoying it all in 4K – it’s really how Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was always meant to be enjoyed. The classic suits just pop on the screen. The fight choreography is leaps and bounds above anything we’ve seen on Power Rangers television the last 10 years – to the extent that you wonder if network standards really neuter what you can do in a show that much (or if the show-runners just didn’t “get” what made the action so special). There’s a scene between Zack and Billy near the beginning of the special that really reminds you that this isn’t a 22 minute kids program anymore and the acting is spectacular.
The second half of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once and Always is where the magic begins to fade. It’s not that it’s bad – only that parts of things feel rushed to wrap up the story. The ending is very exposition heavy – most of your story or continuity easter eggs are literally in the final five minutes. It would have been nice to have them sprinkled throughout as opposed to being shoe-horned in at the end. These are admittedly nitpicks but as a 30-year fan who this special is marketed to, I feel it’s important to notate that. The climatic resolution of the main story – essentially the journey of Trini’s daughter Minh – also felt a little too fast-paced. It is hard to really get in to detail without spoiling anything so we will save it for our spoiler-review (coming Wednesday, April 19th).
One scene that a lot of fans were excited to see in the trailer was the return of the Dino Megazord. The scene of the zords being summoned, with a literal modern redo of each zord being “summoned”, is incredibly well done. Having them come together to for the “tank mode”, and then rise up to become and activate the Dino Megazord, is super cool. I’m not going to sugarcoat the Megazord battle – it’s visually unappealing at best. It’s not “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie” bad, but in 2023 I expect better CGI than what we’re given. The movements are stiff, there’s a thigh gap that is visually jarring, and overall makes you long for a guy in a rubber suit. I appreciate the effort – and the new cockpit is incredible – but the visuals just work to take you out of the special at the end. A little more polish would have gone a long way on this scene.
Let’s take a quick look at each of the characters.
Billy Cranston (David Yost): The character of Billy doesn’t miss a beat. It’s like David Yost never left, like the character just literally transplanted from 1996 to 2023. David wasn’t always the most expressive in his acting and that is still apparent today. Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing – Billy Cranston is still the same Billy Cranston from the 90’s – just older.
Zack Taylor (Walter Jones): We’ve been waiting FOREVER for the Zack-Man to return and he does in an absolutely huge way. Without a shadow of a doubt, Walter Jones’ acting is the best of the entire special. What his character has been up to was surprising and his interactions with Minh are special. Easily the standout favorite of the special for me.
Rocky DeSantos (Steven Cardenas): I was worried which version of Rocky we were getting as the character has never truly been written consistently (a wanna-be leader during Mighty Morphin Power Rangers who was never quite Jason and always behind Tommy, a comedic goofball in Power Rangers Zeo, and just kind of there in the 25th anniversary special during Power Rangers Ninja Steel). Imagine the smile on my face when the version we got was the continuation from Power Rangers Zeo – a more free-spoken, comedic character who isn’t trying to be a leader. Easily gives us the most laughs in the special.
Katherine Oliver?/Hillard? (Catherine Sutherland): The story of Kat has always seemingly been centered around Tommy. It doesn’t change much in this special, as fans who watched the 25th anniversary “Dimensions in Danger” during Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel will immediately appreciate the continuity nods. It is entertaining to see her finally use Pterodactyl power, and this is noted in the special.
Robo Rita Repulsa: I keep going back and forth on this. Rita Repulsa has always been a villain written with a bit of a goofy side to her. Whether she’s yelling at her failed underlings or complaining of a headache or screeching in response to something, Rita Repulsa has never been a villain that I’ve looked at and went “Dang, she could murder me”. So to have a purely evil, villainous Rita Repulsa (even as a robot) was a more drastic departure than I was expecting. I’m going to call this one 50/50. Your mileage will vary.
Minh Kwan (Charlie Kersh): Minh Kwan is the daughter of the late Trini Kwan. This is easily one of the strongest female characters in Power Rangers in a very long time and the overall special centers around her story. Charlie’s acting is consistent and the delivery of her lines feels natural. It really feels like the relationship she has with Zack (Walter Jones) is an actual real relationship, and the two actors play incredibly well off of each other. I sincerely hope Minh returns in the very near future as the next generation of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
CONCLUSION: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once and Always pairs a teenager with attitude with adults with responsibilities, giving fans a nostalgic ride that will have you smiling, crying, and doing your best to make sure your neighbors or roommate(s) don’t hear you singing along to “Go Go Power Rangers”. An enjoyable ride that casual fans will love, hardcore fans will appreciate, and new fans will become interested in. If you’re looking for a deep-dive in to Power Rangers lore – you’ll walk away disappointed as the special is clearly written to appeal to casual fans with enough winks to hardcore fans to keep them smiling.
Please use this thread to share your reviews / discuss reviews of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once and Always, airing April 19th on Netflix.
Acting could've been a lot better, pacing was a little here and there, and the fighting could've been more dynamic, but honestly, I enjoyed it.
All the little references had me happy, and while they're explanations of how the continuity worked was clunky, just the fact that it's acknowledged was nice.
It was fantastic to see some of these faces back. It was a blast of nostalgia that gave me a smile.
Also how in the fuck did Rita capture rangers from Mirinoi? Whatever ship Adam and Aisha were on needed 6 hours to be in teleport range to Earth, but Rita can capture rangers on a planet on the other side of the galaxy?
Saw it, have very mixed feelings. What I did like was the Veteran Rangers doing what they do best. The sets where good and the action was decent.
What I didn't like was the dialogue and Minh I felt was just bad. Like after Zack delivering this speech to her about what a hero means, she does something stupid like encountering the monsters when she can't morph, plus that whole saving the dude's "friend" (half assed LGBT pandering in current year, what do you expect *rolls eyes*)
I'd give it a 5/10.
I'm currently at half the movie.
The acting is way better than the MMPR series, I still have a problem with Rocky...Damn I don't know but him being the Red Ranger is weird.
The fact that the leaders of the team are Billy and Zack make sense and I like Zack way more than I thought I would.
Also...Yeah! The Hip Hop Kido is back baby.
The reason as to why Rita is back is as expected from some people in the fandom, I wasn't surprised, and it felt acceptable to me.
I'm surprised to not see Zedd though.
As for Minh....well she's a teenager, so her behavior doesn't bother me. I expect her to come around and actually be a good Yellow Ranger.
I'm trying to spoil as little as possible, but them acknowledging the existence of Tommy and Kat's son is pretty great.
Honestly, I wouldn't mind a new MMPR series but I would change the lineup a bit.
Green would be JJ, Yellow would be Minh, Blue would still be Billy, Zack would be Black and I would change Pink and Red. As much as I like Kat here, I don't think she would work in a new MMPR Team.
Really wish they had just used suits for the Megazord fight at the end lol
I think the actings good.
The Megazord being CGI and all.
It's got potential and I think Minh will hold out after her mom.
I loved it. The only thing i didn't like that much was Dino Megazord fight that CGI very lame i think they could delete that and give more time to the Rangers.
I cried when the Power Rangers music played it was very nostalgic and memories of a childhood all summed up in this episode. I'm grateful I grew up in the 90s watching Power Rangers ⚡
Billy will be back in Cosmic Fury and since he hasn't given up on the idea of bringing his mentor, it's likely that Zordon will revive in Cosmic Fury.
just like the old days in my childhoood.
I have so much respect for the returning actors. This is as much a story about the Rangers as it is about the actors who understand the impact they've had through their portrayals.
I understand why it didn't happen, but I would have loved to see the rangers from a different generation in different suits. The CGI was better than I expected but the finisher was too over the top. I like my Zords slow moving and stiff. I can't believe they didn't do the Power Blaster to finish off Rita. Perfect opportunity! Charlie Kersh did an excellent job both in acting and her own stuntwork.
I'm happy this movie was made. It's a thumbs up from me.
Saw it, but it was in the early morning hours not long after it went live.
I do think that it's something you might need to see twice in order to really catch all of the details, but I'll say what I'm thinking right now.
I'll use the "spoiler tape" on things that shouldn't be said to those who haven't had a chance yet to really dive into it.
We start in the middle of a battle with cast and crew names overlaid on the footage. This is a modern take to opening credits and it's one that I feel is maybe not best served here. Mighty Morphin' comes from a different time in American TV, and while this is 30 years hence, I still think that they should've echoed that fact. The entirety of Season 1 opened with Rita and Zordon and then the Ron Wasserman theme. That might've been the right call here as well.
Robo Rita's dialogue is exactly what we've heard in the trailers and is a departure from the use of "destroy" to censor "die" or "kill".
The moment that has been discussed and debated happens rather quickly. It's definitely a quintessential "heroic self-sacrifice to protect a friend" moment, but it...felt hollow. I don't know how else to say it, but it didn't have near the impact as it should've. Maybe its because we all knew it was coming, so the shock just wasn't there. Robo Rita didn't even gloat hard and just up and left almost immediately after.
Billy and Zack inside Trini's house was definitely a more adult conversation than what we heard years ago between these two.
There is a time-skip, but it's virtually negligible. It also makes you wonder what Robo Rita was doing all this time. Did she even know about the recent exploits involving Evox, Goldar Maximus, Void Knight, and Lord Zedd?
The time-skip does show that Minh is now being essentially raised by Zack, who moved into Trini's house after an indeterminate period as a congressman, which is an unexpected but not unwelcome development given the character and definitely adds to the whole "still trying to do the right thing even when you aren't morphed" aspect to the franchise.
Well, naturally Robo Rita isn't going to leave things as they are for two long. She does return, and with Robo-Snizzard and Robo-Minotaur. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense cause it's not well explained how she remade these two as robots or why she specifically chose these two to remake. Then again, they didn't do a good job of explaining where all of these Putties came from. Robo-Minotaur, unlike his predecessor, actually speaks for once. That's about it though as he's basically just added muscle. Robo-Snizzard is central to the plot and the VA is clearly trying to riff on Bryan Cranston's vocal patterns for OG Snizzard.
Since Austin, Amy, and JDF do not physically appear in this special, they're reduced to being throw-away characters and are captured and shrunk by Robo-Snizzard using mini-snakes and are to be used by Robo Rita in her grand plan.
This also happens at a cemetery, where we see the headstone of talk-show host Harvey Garvey from Season 2's "Lights, Camera, and Action" getting smashed by Robo-Minotaur.
This is where I'll more or less stop going in precise order for convenience.
One of the central motivations for Minh, as we've seen from the trailers, is how Robo Rita killed Trini and Minh wants payback. She also has an axe to grind with Billy cause she blames him for Trini's death, and Billy kind of understands the sentiment.
We also why learn more of what Billy's been up to and why Robo Rita exists in the first place. Billy now has a complex known as "Cranston Tech" on Earth and the exterior looks like the Command Center of old, but it also has a secret headquarters underground akin to the Power Chamber which none of his employees know about. All employers have secrets that they don't tell their underlings. We also see how Alpha plays into the story when we see Alpha 9, which doesn't immediately explain things cause we never saw 8 and, if memory serves, 7 was only briefly seen and heard in "Forever Red" while "Once A Ranger" had Adam calling upon 6. It doesn't take long for the Alpha confusion to clear-up (kind of) when we see the lead-up to Billy's guilt and how he and Alpha 8 were trying to rematerialize Zordon using the collected particles of the Z-Wave, only for the energy tube they were using to turn dark and possess Alpha 8 and turn him into a new body for Rita's evil which was dispersed into the far reaches of space by the Z-Wave. And that's why there was a battle with Robo Rita to begin with. It doesn't explain why Robo Rita has the robes and Magic Wand, but I guess Rita's dark magic was a primary factor to begin with.
They have a protocol in place for dealing with Robo Rita, and it's an obligatory Zyuranger reference. We also see a couple of Ranger city names displayed at the same time. For once, a Ranger villain isn't going to attack a single city, but the entire planet all at once with an endless army of Putties, which is far more evil albeit more intelligent than most bad guys in the franchise.
This whole thing about "Proxy Power Coins" comes up here when Kat and Rocky are summoned. Kat is quite clearly JJ's mother, and based on his shirt, I think Rocky is a fire-fighter. There is a debate about how "duplicating active powers is dangerous", which is hilarious when you realize that Season 2 violated that rule by having the New Teens in a morphed state alongside the morphed state of the Departing Trio (though this was admittedly to hide the fact that the actors weren't present at the time). This also brings to mind Trent and the Evil White Ranger Clone from Dino Thunder, but that isn't specifically brought up.
There is a modern take on the old Morph Sequence, and I'm gonna admit here that it's just BAD! I'm not sold on the visuals here at all. The actors are done a huge disservice cause they look unnatural during this. The tendency for Rangers to "insta-morph" during this special is much more palatable.
There is a mild continuity error here in a city fight with Putties when Kat says they still sound like "angry turkeys" after all these years, but that makes little sense when you realize that Kat never fought Putties in Season 3! Tengas had already replaced Putties as the grunts of Rita and Zedd by the time Kat was introduced. You could argue that Putties were being used off-screen in the Moon Palace or that Kat fought Putties during "Grid Connection", but even then it's a stretch.
Going back to Minh, she is constantly being shown in various stages of training, which shows how she wants to kill Robo Rita. This starts to wear a little thin after awhile as there's no other motivation. We don't really know much about Minh and what separates her from Trini other than the drive for revenge. She tries to intercede by stealing Trini's Power Morpher and going to the Angel Grove Juice Bar to fight Putties. A few things to unpack here. How is there a Power Morpher for Minh to steal when it looked as though Trini was vaporized? Why is there still a Juice Bar when it clearly became the Surf Spot during In Space? None of this is ever brought up!
Zack and Rocky go to the Juice Bar to save Minh, with Zack doing the Hip Hop Kido again. Zack really just wants Minh to stay on the sidelines and do nothing but homework, and even tries to sway her from a desire for revenge. Minh unfortunately can't do anything right now cause the Power Morpher won't respond to her desire to morph, and it's basically implied that Minh's desire for revenge is the reason for that.
Back to Robo Rita, she is still using the Moon Palace from years past, which looks no worse for wear than when we last saw it in Zeo, and has captured a number of different Legacy Rangers for her plan which involves draining their energy.
The Veteran Rangers have a brilliant idea of using the metallic nature of Robo-Snizzard and Robo-Minotaur against them and snare them with a large magnet in a junkyard. Minh thinks they should be destroyed, but Billy warns against total destruction. This kind of makes since, but only to a point. Power Rangers fight for a reason, but they've blown-up plenty of monsters. One could argue that because these two have been removed from the fight, that means there is no justification for doing anything else. One could also argue that Minh is too determined to destroy them. All that being said, it was kind of stupid to just leave two extremely dangerous robot monsters out in public like this!.
There is a conversation with Adam and Aisha, and they are part of S.P.A., but it's not specifically referred to as "Space Patrol Alpha" or anything at all really. It's just kind of there to be an easter egg. Adam does mention cloaking tech from Billy and the fact that the Troobian Empire is very much active at this stage, despite the obvious lack of open relations with extraterrestrials on Earth right now.
This cloaking tech comes into play with the idea of using it against Robo Rita. However, Minh has the same idea! She steals the RADBUG 2 and saves a couple from Putties in the process. You might be inclined to call this "pandering", but I can live with it because I do believe in inclusivity. She heads to the still-detained Snizzard and Minotaur and Robo-Snizzard has a pretty funny line when Minh says "Your boss killed my mom!" Robo-Snizzard: "We work for an intergalactic war criminal. You're gonna have to be a little more specific!" Unfortunately though not surprisingly, Robo-Rita shows up and Minh is woefully out-matched. She tries to use Trini's "Preying Mantis Style", which Rita recognizes, but to no avail. The other Vets have used the cloaking tech to invade the Moon Palace and realize that to free their friends, they will in fact have to destroy Robo-Snizzard..
It's no secret that from the trailers that Robo Rita is trying to open a time portal, with the intent of giving years of knowledge to her older self when she's freed by idiot astronauts, but also to kill the Ranger Teens in their sleep before Zordon empowers them. This is, again, very evil and very smart in the annals of franchise villainy.
Robo Rita also reveals that she has captured Minh, who doesn't stay a hostage for to long before a battle ensues and Minh saves Billy by taking a magic blast from Robo Rita much like her Mother did!
Everyone is saddened by this turn of events, but some classic Trini segments and battle footage plays out in Minh's eye and she wakes up with a responsive Power Morpher!
That godawful modern Morph Sequence plays out again and it's not getting any better.
Well, it's time for something involving five Rangers now and the Power Weapons are shown, making this one of the first times that Kat uses the Power Bow (unless she was the Pink Ranger in "Grid Connection").
Robo Rita decides to hurl Robo-Snizzard down to the moon floor and make him grow, which is a franchise first cause the OG Snizzard was never enlarged!
Robo Rita has her ass handed to here when Billy runs the Power Lance through her chest, which is something they never would've done years ago!
The Zords are also summoned on Earth, and I'm not sold here at all. There is no grandeur or splendor from watching this. They are sent to the moon surface by Alpha and combine. The sequence is largely faithful to the Zyuranger footage, but it has no impact. Power Rangers has always struggled with OG Zord footage, but at least they were willing to have actors in suits in the old days! If this is a taste of things to come in Cosmic Fury and in original non-Sentai productions in the future, then they're definitely gonna have to step-up and fix this or this franchise is doomed!
The cockpit isn't precisely accurate, but it's excusable because it's so well done unlike the CGI Megazord itself!
Billy and Minh board the Megazord, while the others destroy Robo-Minotaur, with Rocky delivering a sword thrust which even Kat says is "hardcore"!
Well, Rocky and Kat board the Dino Megazord for the first time (again, "Grid Connection" theories notwithstanding). It's also interesting to hear fandom terminology like "Z-Wave" and "Dino Megazord" referred to by franchise characters. Billy also refers to the Megazord weapon as the "Mega Power Sword", likely as a reference to the inconsistent naming in the old days and to differentiate it from Rocky and Jason's Power Sword. With this, Robo-Snizzard is destroyed with ease after some brawling and headbutting.
Robo Rita isn't exactly down for the count though and gets back up, only for Minh to pin her down and for Zack to blow her up for good for Trini's sake while Kat destroys the time device with the Power Bow.
With the battle over, Adam and Aisha appear and plan to take the shrunken Rangers to Aquitar for healing, cause destroying Robo-Snizzard only saved their lives. Billy's girlfriend Cestria is name-dropped here as well.
Things come to a close in the Juice Bar with Minh and Zack and Billy and things are even better terms than they were. They even talk about the old days and how Shellshock made Trini run constantly.
We end with old footage of Kim's guitar solo from Season 2's "The Song of Guitardo" as well as an In Memoriam for Thuy and JDF.
Oh, and we also get a riff on the classic opener as well. Typical modern trope of putting an "opener" at the end and I've already said how this doesn't help all that well here.
This was all right, but it just didn't give me the right feels or set the right tone. The CGI left a lot to be desired and things would've been better served if they had more time to work with. It's like how New Doctor Who settles things up in an episode or two while Classic Doctor Who was a serialized adventure that took a few episodes to resolve. The approximate 55 minute runtime meant they had to shove in years of nostalgia, showcase classic characters, introduce a new character, make us care about the plot, and swoon over the fight scenes. They succeeded up to a point, and nostalgia is gonna get the high mark without question. The fight scenes involving Rangers and Villains is definitely good, but even then I wasn't particularly enthused. The designs for Alpha and Robo Rita and her monsters are mostly solid and the same can be said for the set pieces. The idea of Kat using a Power Bow and the excess detailing on the CGI Dinozords is clearly, and unfortunately, inspired by the same details that have been incorporated into the Lightning Collection and the Zord Ascension Project. It's trying to showcase some level of symmetry and it almost completely misses the mark for me. I will say that the individual Dinozords look a little better than the Dino Megazord, but that's not saying a lot.
Cosmic Fury is supposedly going to feature Billy again, and bringing Minh back would help give us more time to like her and accept her as the successor to Trini. It would also help if someone like Zedd referenced the events of this special and why he wasn't involved cause you feel as though he should've been chronologically speaking, but he wasn't introduced until the 31st Anniversary and this was mainly to focus on Robo Rita and the glorious return of Barbara Goodson who delivers a mostly solid performance.
Uh, why did Robo Rita come back when the nature of her return meant that anyone who was turned into sand or purified by the Z-Wave could've come back as well? Does this mean that anyone could return? Does blowing Robo Rita up disperse her evil to the far reaches of space or banish it to the Dark Dimension or something else? To that end, why was the Dark Dimension referenced when we never saw Robo Rita anywhere but on Earth or the Moon Palace?
You can like this special for what it is and for what it tried to do. I'm now more interested in Cosmic Fury than I was cause this left me wanting something different. A shame, cause I was young when this franchise was and I remember it from that period. I wanted to like this and I kind of do, just not in the manner that I was hoping.
Well, I hoped this little overview was informative or helpful or something. I tried to be cautious regarding spoilers. Maybe a little too cautious.
For now, be good and keep it Morphenomenal!
P.S.: There is a pretty obvious Bulk and Skull easter egg, but Angel Grove High and Principal Caplan and Miss Applebee are nowhere to be seen and I didn't catch any kind of an easter egg for them if there is one.
Keep reading: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once and Always - Reviews - Page 2
Not a member yet? Join TokuNation Now!