The Power Rangers return to the big screen in Lionsgate’s sci-fi action film starring Naomi Scott, Ludi Lin, Dacre Montgomery, Becky G, and RJ Cyler. The 2017 feature film directed by Dean Israelite (Project Almanac) is an origin story that follows five teenage outcasts who transform into a team of superheroes. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers debuted back in 1993, and this new take on the franchise retains the elements that made the characters popular while introducing new layers to each of the Power Rangers.
“At its heart, this is a story of true friends. Friends first – who only collectively become superheroes. The idea that you can defeat incredible obstacles only when you unite is what makes it truly special for all ages. With that as the core, we were also able to really push the envelope of what people might be expecting from the action. The combination is exciting,” explained producer Marty Bowen.
Director Israelite was a big Power Rangers fan who has fond memories of watching the series growing up in South Africa. “What I remember most is how empowered the show made you feel as a kid. When it emerged that this project was going to re-imagine the show, I was very excited about that,” stated Israelite. “I felt if I could tap into the feeling of the original it could be an incredible adventure.”
Power Rangers opens in theaters on March 24, 2017 and in support of its release, Naomi Scott (Kimberly, the Pink Ranger), Dacre Montgomery (Jason, the Red Ranger), and Ludi Lin (Zack, the Black Ranger) teamed up to discuss the action movie, their characters, and what it was like to be part of the franchise in our exclusive interview.
Naomi Scott, Ludi Lin and Dacre Montgomery Interview:
Why has the Power Rangers franchise remained so popular for such a long time?
Dacre Montgomery: “I think it tracks so well because it’s so universal. Not just the diversity of the casting, but just the whole idea of that journey to adulthood – halfway to manhood in my character’s sense and my sense. I think there’s such a throwback to those ‘80s films like Breakfast Club and Stand By Me, because it’s just such a universal concept about teenagers or kids struggling with growing into adults and all those kinds of chemicals in your body. I remember going through 15 to 19 and everything is so heightened. I think that’s so interesting to watch.”
Naomi Scott: “I think with Power Rangers [it’s] that idea of being superheroes with your friends. And it’s got such strong imagery as well, like the colors. I think there’s definitely something in that. When you’re a kid it’s like your favorite color, your favorite one. And there are two girls so girls were like, ‘Girls can fight! Girls can be superheroes too!’ I think that’s probably also why it’s stood the test of time. It’s got such a visual identity as well which I think is kind of fun, and I think what people have kind of hung on to.”
Ludi Lin: “Yeah. I think the message is definitely a key thing and why it’s lasted through the years. But also, it’s that and then something as simple as you’re a superhero and then you have a big robot. As a kid, I used to dream about having huge robots. I was actually surprised with the fact – because we’ve seen lots of superhero films around – when I finally got to screen the movie, when I saw us sitting in the suits and then getting a big robot, that was a whole different feeling. That was really cool.”
How did it feel the first time you got into the costumes and then the first time you saw the whole group together?
Naomi Scott: “Oh gosh, when we did the fitting it was a long fitting so it was like very tiring, a very long process. I think Becky G and I were tired, we were hungry, and then when we turned around and looked in the mirror it was very strange because you have the helmet on and, obviously, you’re like, ‘Who is that?!’ That was kind of a very weird moment.”
Ludi Lin: “And the suits were so secretive. We couldn’t go outside when we were filming unless we were dressed in this huge like Star Wars cape.”
Naomi Scott: “Literally.”
Ludi Lin: “There were paparazzi trying to get shots of the suits. It was actually very hot. It was very rare when we all got together with the suits on, and the environment definitely helps. I remember we’re on that cliff and we’re supposed to be looking off into the distance at Angel Grove, about to go save Angel Grove, and it was beautiful weather. The sun was shining, because to shoot in these suits the light has to shine on them in a certain way. That day was just perfect for them. So, we were all standing in a row and that picture is iconic because it’s on social media all of the time, with us with the open-face helmets looking into the distance. That was the first time we were together and, yeah, I don’t think I will ever forget that.”
It’s such a special effects-laden film, how difficult was it to work in that environment and just imagine so much of what is supposed to be around you?
Dacre Montgomery: “I mean, it’s incredibly sophisticated how the special effects team work on visual effects, if you will. They’ve got all kinds of dots going on on the wall and I tried for the life of me to understand it but it was pretty tough. We were given so much pre-visualization to work with of, ‘Here is a green screen,’ and then they’d have an iPad and go, ‘Here is what it’s going to look like.’ So, we had some sense. Even in Bill Hader and Bryan Cranston’s case, before they were cast we had voice actors working there or somebody in a green suit slinking around, so we were given as much support as they can. At the end of the day, I just imagined dragons were flying around.”
Naomi Scott: “He was like, ‘Guys, this could be anything. Dragons!’”
Dacre Montgomery: “We saw the film last week and no dragons. Not one.”
How did the finished film compare to what you imagined while you were working on it?
Naomi Scott: “That’s a good question.”
Ludi Lin: “It was definitely a lot different than how I imagined it when I saw the script at first. I mean, a large portion of the film was special effects. With that added in it was cool because it was like watching a movie I wasn’t a part of, especially because it was an ensemble piece. A lot of times we weren’t in each other’s scenes so it was super entertaining, I thought.”
Dacre Montgomery: “So all these different contexts come together. Like, I was never with Naomi on X day when she did this scene, and then suddenly you see it. Then also there’s stuff that didn’t make the cut. You know, the hours and hours we spent doing scenes… Because I’m such a newcomer I was like, ‘But that took like 14 hours,’ you know?”
It can be part of the DVD extras.
Naomi Scott: (Laughing) “That would be a long DVD extra!”
Ludi Lin: “A six-hour director’s cut.”
Dacre Montgomery: “We had a lot of content. But of course understanding the film can’t just run forever, you need to be very conservative in what you leave in versus not dragging on. I think the film runs about two hours and four minutes. I think the longest superhero film I’ve ever seen was Watchmen and that was like 2 ½ hours. That’s one of my favorite films.”
(The publicist confirms the two-hour running time.)
Naomi Scott: “That means I liked it then because it didn’t drag on.”
What did you find in your characters that you gravitated toward and latched onto?
Naomi Scott: “When I first got the email about a Power Rangers movie to audition, I was kind of intrigued because I was like, ‘Okay, what kind of movie do they want to make?’ And then when I skyped Dean, the director, he showed me a lot of imagery but also we chatted mostly about Kimberly. Who is Kimberly? What’s her deal? There was some kind of things attached to Kimberly, maybe like this kind of Valley Girl, whatever you attach. I thought, ‘Okay, cool. I think I have a chance to [do something with her].’
There’s the foundation of what people remember; there’s definitely that in there. But, also, everyone’s dealing with their own things and those things are quite relevant to now and what kids are going through now, which I think is really cool. So, I really liked to make her relatable. She’s not perfect but she’s quite mature. I think that’s why I was like, ‘I’d like to play this character.’ All the other iconic stuff, like she is the Pink Power Ranger, that’s in the script. That comes with it. But my responsibility was just to deal with the character.”
Ludi Lin: “Yeah. I think right off the bat I got a hint because although I have some martial arts background, when I was doing auditions or casting they never even asked about my martial arts background. The scenes were always very emotional and talky. And then speaking to Dean, he had such a sensitivity about him. It doesn’t seem like he just wants to go shoot a film with guns blazing. But with that being said, yeah, we worked hard on the action. But, a lot of the action is like emotional action, too. Like an emotional rollercoaster that these kids go through as they become these superheroes, and it’s more to the story delving deeply into that side of things as well.”
Dacre Montgomery: “I hope that audiences can get that. It is a visceral experience, not just what we’re seeing all the time in superhero films which isn’t bad. I don’t mean that in a negative way. I mean that a lot of those independent films you go on this big emotional ride with, we’re trying to combine that with a blockbuster. [The Power Rangers] poster is representative of X and we’re talking about an emotional Y. I hope there’s more heart there that people can pick up on because Dean really did give us the platform to try and get there.”
This is your first big production and first film role. Did it live up to your expectations?
Dacre Montgomery: “And more. I’ve spent my whole life wanting this and it kind of happened overnight. It’s very surreal. I had just finished drama school training and felt physically ready after training and as emotionally ready as I could be. But when we got on the set it was five and a half months of… We shot almost chronologically, which is really fortunate. There’s a very emotional scene toward the end of the film where we all have to band together and be in this particular emotional state, and I remember shooting that day and you guys were very emotional. Aside from all the action and being in this 80,000 square foot spaceship, it was kind of crazy. It was a wild ride. I miss it. I do miss it.”
So a sequel is in the works?
Dacre Montgomery: “I’d like to think so. Deadpool came out of nowhere and had fantastic success and they’ve started production on a sequel. And I hope the same for us.”
Ludi Lin: “Yeah, for me it would be such a shame for there not to be. I mean, it’s a really rare opportunity. If there wasn’t a sequel, I don’t think there would be a chance that the five of us – the five Rangers – would get together and make another movie. What could we make? A road trip show? This is just the origin story so I hope that people get attached to these characters and feel that enough. I know that the entire crew, not just the main cast but the entire crew of hundreds of people, actually put their entire hearts into this film. I hope that can come through so that people love the movie and want to see more.”
The Plot: Saban’s Power Rangers follows five ordinary teens who must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove — and the world — is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so, they will have to overcome their real-life issues and before it’s too late, band together as the Power Rangers.