Power Rangers: Once and Always Review – A mighty, morphin trip down memory lane

A mighty, morphin trip down memory lane

Back in 1993, the world of Children’s TV was graced with the dawning of a new era. Three words defined an entire generation of kids, joining in playgrounds at breaktime (recess) to utter the memorable words “It’s Morphin Time!”

Since the Mighty Morphin days, Power Rangers has continued to go strong, with the franchise continuously rebooting and reinventing itself for a whole new generation of boys and girls. But of course, nothing will match the thrill of seeing the original teens joining up to tackle Rita Repulsa, Lord Zedd, Goldar and a number of other enemies.

Once and Always is less a continuation of the series and more a nostalgic trip down memory lane; a love letter to fans of the original that once you’re a ranger, you’re always a ranger. And so Netflix’s latest 55 minute special plays out as an extended episode of the original show, featuring familiar faces and new characters joining the fray.

As someone who grew up with Power Rangers and loved all the different storylines, Once & Always attempts to bring that same chaotic energy and creativeness and for the most part, it works rather well, even if the experience is a bit uneven in places.

The story here wastes absolutely no time getting right to the crux of the drama. Rita Repulsa is now a monstrous robot and hell-bent on destroying the rangers no matter what. When she captures half the Rangers through using two familiar monsters in the past, and Trini sacrifices herself for the team, Billy and Zack are thrown into a spiral of guilt.

With Robo Rita is about to launch her most diabolical scheme imaginable, Billy and Alpha 9 (the new and upgrade Alpha model) work together to activate the Bandora Protocol and try to save the world before it’s too late.

The returning Rangers are great and the way certain characters are written in and out of the special is both respectful and well done. There are some familiar faces outside the Rangers too, with the monster choices in particular offering a great blast from the past. However, when this attempts to add in some new flavour and dynamics to the iconic franchise, it doesn’t work anywhere near as effectively as it could have been.

One of the biggest problems here comes from Minh, Trini’s daughter. Her obnoxious, bratty attitude not only gets the others into constant trouble, she’s also hell-bent on revenge and lashes out at Billy and Zach constantly. It’s not until the very end where she actually learns some humility and you start to warm to her. To be fair, her character arc is arguably the best out of everyone in this special, so some leniency can be had here.

It’s also quite surprising that for all the cameos and nods to the original, some of the more familiar and memorable characters don’t make an appearance. Lord Zedd and Goldar are two such examples, but then you also have appearances from Bulk and Skull, Ernie, Squatt and Baboo, Finster the monster maker, or my personal favourite, Scorpina. In fact, it perhaps would have made more sense to have Goldar and Scorpina as the monsters chosen to be alongside Robo Rita, but alas, the ones that are chosen are certainly iconic in their own way.

I’m not going to spoil the entire story here but given there are implications of time travel thrown in, not to mention the aforementioned Bandora Protocol to bring in old Rangers for proper cameos, it almost feels like a missed opportunity not to go hell to the leather, throwing in iconic monsters like Shellshock (who is actually referenced in this), One Eyed Guy and even Pudgy Pig, all with CGI (which this special is quite heavy on, especially during big fights).

Despite all that though, Once and Always is a decent watch and fans of the original will be in their element. Minh’s character is obnoxious at times to a fault, and drags down the fun, but there are plenty of jokes, quips, fights and enjoyable moments to overlook that. There are some big cameos and Easter Eggs dotted throughout, and if you were a fan of Power Rangers back in the day, Once and Always delivers a mighty, morphin trip down memory lane.

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  • Verdict - 7/10

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