When (erroneous) rumors started circulating this week that Michael Bay might be moving on from blockbuster films to smaller, more personal films, my heart sank.
Not because I was worried about the tentpole director leaving the Transformers franchise…quite the opposite, in fact. I’m not a Transformers fan. I was sad because I saw the writing on the wall. Michael Bay’s greatest, most obvious, most defining piece of popcorn cinema might never get made.
That’s right. I’m talking about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Has there ever been rumblings about Bay making a Power Rangers movie? No. Has there been any movement on a Power Rangers franchise reboot at all? Absolutely not.
But with Hollywood moving forward with a Stretch Armstrong movie, the time is right to bring this stirring series into the mainstream. It’s such a wild, crazy, insane, and dumb idea–only Michael Bay can pull it off.
I believe it to be clear, without need for any argument, that the Power Rangers should be brought to the big screen in a $100 million plus budgeted film. From a marketing standpoint, you have a recognizable brand, childhood nostalgia that can be manipulated for profit, monsters, aliens, over-the-top weapons, martial arts, cool suits, teenagers, and TRANSFORMING ROBOTS!
This is the series that really has it all. Unfortunately they were all combined in a silly TV show that took place mostly in a “juice bar.” There is so much goof and camp that it’s hard to see the gold mine buried underneath, and even harder to bring this series’ potential to the surface.
Michael Bay has managed to make “An asteroid the size of Texas” actually work. He’s put guns on a lunar lander, and gave us fire in space. It’s ridiculous…but everyone bought it, and Armageddon grossed $555 million worldwide.
He took an intelligent, thoughtful science fiction idea and turned it into a movie involving Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson literally jumping off of skyscrapers and landing on the pavement below…unscathed. The Island took in $163 million around the globe…a disappointment for the box-office darling.
Then we get Michael Bay’s most defining franchise. With Transformers, he took a fun, 1980′s cartoon and toy line and made it into a movie about teenagers and fighting, giant, transforming robots that took itself 100% seriously. Sure there were jokes, but there was never the level of purposeful camp that one would expect with this franchise. The first movie took in a ridiculous $708 million around this wonderful world of ours.
He has a habit of taking the most over-the-top, ridiculous elements and approaching them in such a dramatic and serious way that you have no choice but to say things like “holy shit!” and “damn! I MEAN DAMN!”
I’ve had my problems with Michael Bay in the past. Everything I just said in the previous paragraph I’ve always believed to be a flaw. With Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, though, it can be nothing but a strength. Producing this film would mean taking Bay’s filmmaking philosophy so far…so out there…that even the haters like myself won’t be able to stop ourselves from admitting that it’s the most dumb and cool shit ever to grace the silver screen. EVER!
Now it’s time for us to daydream a bit about what this epic opus would entail. First of all, we need to go back to the roots of the series. Meaning we’re looking at the original Zords. The original, prototypical rangers, all hot young teenagers straight out of Disney shows (I’m thinking of you, Shia LaBeouf). Shia could portray Tommy, the college-bound too-cool-for-school Green Ranger whose motives are a bit of a mystery to the others.
See where you can get some good intrigue and hot sex action?
Speaking of which, if (or should I say WHEN) Michael Bay makes this film, there is only one logical choice for our prototypical Pink Ranger. It’s gotta be Megan Fox in a form-fitting outfit. Which gets unnecessarily ripped to shreds in a fight with a group of baddies.
Rita must be our main villain, only now she’s hot. And she hides a demonic, serpentine inner demon. Think your prototypical femme fatale…with Lovecraftian eel monsters hidden in her stomach. Her henchmen are basically orc-like creatures. And they all still live on the moon.
The putties desperately need an update. I suggest that they be actual CGI shadow-creatures that can shape-shift and move with Matrix-like speed.
While the Power Rangers do engage in hand-to-hand combat, they also have sidearms they use to mercilessly shoot the bad guys, resulting in cool special effects and gratuitous explosions. Michael Bay is happy.
Rita makes a monster and sends it to earth, but the plot should revolve around some druidic cult or ancient lost text that portends the end of times. All of this is incidental but adds the necessary “mystery” plot element that our heroes have to spend the entire movie figuring out.
What about some of the weirder elements like Bulk and Skull, the bumbling would-be villainous teenagers without a brain between them? They should be ported over “as-is,” and their presence should be just as out of place as John Turturro’s performance in the first Transformers. They’re dumb and campy and feel like they belong in a different movie, but it’s so weird and confusing that we all just kind of go with it.
In the end, the monster gets too powerful for even Rita, killing its master. It then grows “at a geometric rate” until it begins to terrorize New York City. The military is called in (in slow motion), but we all know that the Pentagon cannot stop this menace. It’s time for the Power Rangers.
The group of teenage badasses call on their TRANSFORMING ROBOTS, and an epic battle ensues. One of the characters dies, but at the last minute we realize that something which was set up in act one can save the poor sap–and Shia gets to make out with Megan Fox at the very end of the movie, standing on the top of the Empire State building as the camera cranes back to reveal the carnage below. An American flag appears in the foreground, and the screen cuts to black with a bass-filled, rousing thud. Cue the exit music.
I know it appears that I’m being glib and sarcastic. Usually, you’d be right. But with the Power Rangers as source material, this kind of formulaic and obvious treatment can spell nothing but box-office gold. The masses will eat it up, and even hardened movie snobs like myself will have to say “this is just too insane not to enjoy.”
So here’s my pitch…straight at the man himself.
Dear Mr. Michael Bay,
We’ve had our problems in the past. Pearl Harbor was a dark spot on American cinema…I think even you’d admit that at this point. But with your Transforming Robots films, I’ve seen the light.
You were born to give me Zordon, played by Liam Neeson, locked inside a crystalline cylinder. I need your version of the neurotic robot Alpha 5. I must see what you do with those goofy, color coded suits. And I don’t want my robot-on-monster fights to keep occurring in the magically rebuilt “Warehouse District” of Angel Grove. You need to bring this story to New York City.
Show me how Rita Replusa locked Zordon in an inter-dimensional time-warp before being sealed in a Space Dumpster and landing on earth’s moon.
I want to see the Rangers receiving their power coins. I want to watch their awed expressions as they call on their Thunderzords for the first time. Give me the truly terrifying and menacing version of the Putty Patrol that I’ve always dreamed of.
Take the ridiculousness of my childhood and give me something that will melt the eye sockets of every man, woman, and child on the planet.
Please make a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie. Pretty please. With sugar on top.