One of the biggest trends in Hollywood right now is taking properties from the ‘80s and ‘90s and reimagining them for a new generation of fans. That’s exactly the mindset Power Rangers director Dean Israelite had going into Lionsgate’s adaptation of the popular TV series.
Talking to a group of fans at Madison Square Gardens in New York City for Comic Con, Israelite said that he had two approaches to the Power Rangers movie that was incredibly important to him: keeping the spirit of the original series alive and telling an origin story.
“I grew up on Power Rangers in South Africa and what was important to me from the beginning was making a movie about growing up,” Israelite said. “I wanted to make this a grounded, character driven origin story that was always set to the backdrop of this adventure. Always at the center was making these characters real with real problems that people can find relatable.
“I wanted to remain true to the spirit of the franchise that I grew up on and loved. And I wanted really hard to reimagine it and reinvent it for a 2017 audience.”
Part of ensuring that his vision was met meant that Israelite had to remain as true as he could to the original without trying to fake certain elements. One of the biggest aspects of the film, the director said, are the Zords that the Power Rangers will pilot. Although they’re entirely computer-generated, Israelite had his cast act out the scenes as physically as they could in order to make it appear more authentic.
“We are not trying to cheat it at all,” Israelite said. “They are completely a part of that world.”
One of the toughest parts of filming, according to the cast, was just how grueling the scenes were. The actors told stories about getting injured on set while learning how to properly fight and being physically exhausted by the end of the day. Ludi Lin, who plays the Black Power Ranger, said that one of the most tiring bits was working with the Zords because of how much they had to do to make it seem as real as possible.
“Everything that happened with the Zords, we felt the physicality,” Lin said. “I think that's how controlling a big machine like that for the first time should feel. I was exhausted, I was tired, and the last shot we had was the hardest to accomplish.”
Although the Zords will play a major role in the movie, Israelite said one of the most climactic moments happens right at the end and features Lin controlling his Zord. The director said that filming the scene was emotional for everyone involved, because it’s also the shot the film ends on, and it represents what Israelite loved about the original series.
Fans who were gathered in the stadium for the panel were also shown an exclusive look at Elizabeth Banks as the wicked Rita Repulsa, but neither Israelite or the cast talked about what audiences can expect out of her role in the movie. Israelite did say, however, that the next trailer would focus more heavily on Rita Repulsa, Zordon and other Power Rangers characters that didn’t make it into the first teaser released today.
Power Rangers hits theaters March 24, 2017.