In the early 90s, a new pop culture phenomenon grasped the young audience worldwide in the form of “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” which showcased a color-coded costume-wearing team of teenage superheroes, mentored by an alien trapped in a time warp, with each of the teens having their distinctive animal-motif weapons and transforming vehicles. While handling their real-life situations, the team of do-gooders battled the monster of the episode, which inevitably ended up in mechanical Megazord battles. The entire narrative, character designs, and even key battle sequences were heavily inspired by the Japanese tokusatsu series “Super Sentai.” The simplistic plotline, caricature-ish characters, over-the-top action, and quippy dialogues, all tied together with a shoestring budget, had a self-aware charm of their own, which made it possible for the series to further itself into a newer motif-oriented franchise spanning over three decades with thirty new series—although the newer versions have lost their appeal by far.
However, the characters from the first series, “Mighty Morphin,” and the goodness of simplicity the series inculcated, have remained with fans through the years, and legends like Jason David Frank, the original green ranger who adopted numerous ranger roles since, adopted the ranger business so passionately till the day he breathed his last that the status of an icon was bestowed upon him, are a testament to that. In that regard, Netflix’s latest Special “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once and For All” is a reunion of the original cast, a celebration of the ranger spirit of heroism, and a gesture to honor the legacy left by the original rangers.
Before the movie begins, we are introduced to the foreword, which provides background context. In 1993, the evil cosmic witch Rita Repulsa escaped from her space dumpster after ten thousand years of slumber, where she had been entrapped by the mighty Eltarian wizard Zordon. The wizard himself was trapped in a time-warped existence, and in order to tackle the threats posed by Rita, he created power morphers, power coins, and dinozords, which he entrusted to five good-willed teenagers. They were the original Rangers, better known as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and Zordon mentored the bunch right up to the Space Rangers.
At the end of the original series of Power Rangers, titled “Power Rangers in Space,” Zordon sacrifices himself to save the world. Under his command, the Red Space Ranger destroyed his energy tube, which led to his Z waves transforming every major evil force, including him and the Rangers’ arch nemesis Rita Repulsa, into humans. The events of the movie take place thirty years after that incident, and it consists of the original Mighty Morphin Rangers team.
Rita Repulsa Returns, And A Tragedy Strikes
As the movie begins, we see an aged Billy Cranston, aka the Blue Ranger, struggling in a battle against a robotic version of Rita Repulsa and her minion Putties. Soon the rest of the Rangers—Tommy, aka Green; Jason, aka Red; Trini, aka Yellow; Zack, aka Black; and Kimberly, aka Pink—join the battle. Rita uses her staff to conjure a deathly spell to hit a cornered Billy with, but Trini jumps in the way to save him, dying herself in the process. In her absence, Trini leaves behind a teenage daughter, Minh, with whom she shares a strong bond, but she doesn’t know about her mother’s career as a ranger. Zack and Billy, who were good friends of Trini, struggle to decide how to break the tragic news to Minh. While Zack argues that, being a kid, Minh might not be able to handle the news, Billy is firm in his opinion that she has every right to know the truth, and sooner or later, she has to face reality. In the midst of their argument, Minh overhears everything and breaks down.
A year has passed since the tragic demise of Trini, and Zack has left his successful career as a congressman to undertake the duty of Minh’s guardianship. Under Zack’s tutelage, Minh has trained hard to become a Ranger someday. The scene moves to the day the Rangers are supposed to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Trini’s death, and Zack takes Minh to the meet. The duo notices Robotic Rita has ambushed their meeting, and the team is fighting against her in their Ranger form. Zack joins the battle as well, but the team finds it difficult to cope against the two revamped monsters of Rita, Snizzard and Minotaur. During the battle, Snizzard uses his mechanical snake extensions to stunt and capture Jason, Tommy, and Kim, then miniaturizes them. The three Rangers are given to Rita, who uses a machine to siphon their power, possibly to build something nefarious. Realizing the two don’t stand a chance against Rita’s forces, Billy and Zack flee with Minh in Billy’s flying car.
After returning, Zack and Billy discuss the possible course of action they should opt for now that Rita has their friends, whose lives are at stake. Minh expresses her wish to join them in the battle, as she considers she has a personal score to settle with Rita regarding her mother’s death, but is quickly shut off by Zack and Billy. When Billy remarks that it’d be risky for her to go against Rita without Ranger abilities, Minh deals a low blow by holding Billy responsible for her mother’s death.
Billy and Zack go to Zordon’s old command center, which is now located right under Cranston Tech and are greeted by Alpha 9, the latest iteration of the faithful AI robot of Zordon. A remorseful Billy opines that Minh is right in saying it was his fault that Trini passed away. In a flashback sequence, we are shown that with the help of Alpha 8, he wanted to converge the particles of Z-waves to bring back Zordon, whom all the Rangers missed due to him being almost a father figure to all of them. Billy’s plan backfired when Rita’s evil essence accumulated and transformed Alpha 8 into a robotic version of Rita, who took Trini’s life in the end. Zack tries to assure Billy, saying his intentions were pure no matter the outcome and that they needed to focus on the present.
The trio spots several Putty attacks being conducted worldwide on a random basis, and due to their numbers being too low, they are forced to apply the Bandora Protocol, which sends signals to the different sects of Power Rangers as well as the reserve members. Two familiar faces: the Second Mighty Morphin Red Ranger, Rocky, and the Second Pink Ranger, Katherine, who is also Tommy’s wife teleport in the base. They are briefed about the situation by the duo and are given alternate power coins, dinozord access, and morphers, which they use to fight the Putties all over Angel Grove (the fictional town the Mighty Morphin Rangers protect). However, Minotaur and Snizzard keep attacking them in order to capture and miniaturize them for use in Rita’s machine, and the Rangers somehow escape.
On the other hand, Minh gets alerted about the Putty attacks and, ignoring Zack’s warnings, goes out on her own, taking her mother’s Sabretooth Yellow Ranger Morpher with her. However, surrounded by Putties, when Minh tries to morph into Ranger attire, the Morpher doesn’t respond, and she soon gets overwhelmed by fighting the Putties in her human form. The team at Zordon’s command center notices the situation; Zack and Rocky save Minh and bring her back with them.
A Job For A Ranger
At the command center, Kat, Billy, and Rocky set out to create an EMP trap to capture Snizzard and Minotaur while they planned to attack Rita’s base of operations in Moon. Zack, infuriated at Minh for her reckless gestures, takes the Yellow Morpher back and states that if not for Billy, he would never have told her about the Ranger career her mother had. A rebellious Minh lashes out, saying she is following her mother’s footsteps, and asks what’s the reason for the Morpher’s unresponsive behavior. Zack remarks that Minh’s heart is engulfed in vengeful thoughts, which are far from the justice the Rangers seek to uphold. Minh still tries to argue, saying it’s her call and it should be according to her choice as well, and Zack reminds her of the selfless, heroic path they need to stick to really make a difference. He manages to dissuade Minh from taking any hasty decisions and teleports to the team’s location using the Morpher.
The team manages to lure and restrain Snizzard and Minotaur in the trap and uses a stealth navigation device made by Billy to infiltrate Rita’s base on the Moon. In their absence, Minh once again sneaks out using Billy’s flying car and takes the Morpher with her. After crushing a few putties, Minh confronts the entrapped Minotaur and Snizzard and once again fails to transform using the Morpher. Rita arrives at the scene and captures Minh easily.
Did Minh Get Justice In The End?
On the other hand, the team infiltrates Rita’s base, and Billy speculates that the energy Rita is siphoning from their captive friends and other Rangers worldwide is being used to create a time portal. Robotic Rita arrives with Minh as her captive, confirms Billy’s suspicions, and remarks that she will deliver all her experiences to her past self and rewrite reality itself by killing the Rangers in the past, even before Zordon recruited them.
A fight ensues between them, and once again, Rita prepares to cast her deadly spell on Billy. This time, Minh jumps in the middle, just like her mother did to save Billy, and receives the impact herself. An unconscious Minh sees a vision of her mother Trini’s memories all at once and wakes up, to the team’s delight. And seeing that the Yellow Morpher with her has started to glow, the Rangers morph together, bringing the original team of five main color-coded Rangers once again together. After a prolonged battle and a compulsory Megazord fight, the Rangers manage to destroy the device Rita planned to use and destroy the robotic form of Rita, with Zack delivering the finishing blow.
After ensuring the miniaturized Rangers’ return to normalcy, Kat and Rocky take their leave. Billy, Zack, and Minh reach the Angel Grove youth center, where the original team used to hang out. During Zack’s absence, Minh apologizes to Billy for her rude reactions but gets assured by Billy that she didn’t say anything hurtful that he hasn’t already subjected himself to. Minh also thanks Billy for suggesting that Zack tell the truth, as she does not know how she could have reacted in the dark about her mother’s death. Answering Billy’s question about saving him by jumping right in front of the deadly spell, Minh remarks that Billy is family, and protecting the family is one of the virtues of the Rangers. Through her act of self-sacrifice, Minh managed to get her justice and also became the new Yellow Ranger, thereby upholding her mother, Trini Kwan’s, legacy. Later, Minh remarks about seeing a vision of her mother’s memories before the Morpher allowed her to transform, which makes Billy speculate that perhaps the limitless possibilities of the Morphing Grid can allow Zordon’s return too.
As the movie ends, we are shown an emotional flashback sequence, moving enough to break the fans down. We see the young original Rangers hang out at the Angel Grove Youth Center. Kim sings “Down the Road,” which was written and sung by the actor Amy Jo Johnson, who plays the role of Kimberly. As the song reflects on the essence of friendship, the Rangers had with each other; the following shots show the people it has been dedicated to: the original Yellow Ranger actor Thuy Trang and the original Green Ranger actor Jason David Frank, both of whom left us with memories and the reminder, Once a Ranger, Always a Ranger.