A 4K UHD remaster of 1995’s Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie was screened at Los Angeles’ TCL Chinese theater a couple of days before the release of Saban’s Power Rangers (2017).
A new 4K DCP remaster of the 1995 Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie has been created by 20th Century Fox, allowing for a potential Blu-Ray release. The DCP, or Digital Cinema Package, was debuted at a screening at Los Angeles’ TCL Chinese Theater. The screening included a Q&A with cast members David Yost (Billy), Steve Cardenas (Rocky), and Johnny Yong Bosch (Adam), as well as the film’s 2nd unit director Jeff Pruitt.
According to the screening’s host Kory Davis, known as @moviedude18 on Twitter, the UHD (“ultra high-definition”) version is a scan of the recently rediscovered original negative. The negative was reportedly found in Fox archives during the search for film prints of the movie to use for screenings of the film. Fox mandates the use of film prints or DCP files for screenings.
Prior to the screening, Jeff Pruitt narrated a collection of footage and images from the production of the 1995 film, including test footage of the rubber-armored Power Rangers attempting stunts against a group of rat-suited baddies – wearing scrapped suits ultimately repurposed for the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’ 2nd season episode “Return of the Green Ranger, pts. 1-3,” filmed in Australia when the movie’s production went over-schedule.
“We weren’t supposed to be there six months, we were supposed to be there for three,” noted David Yost in the post-screening Q&A, “because we got so far behind in the film, we needed to deliver episodes of the TV show…I think there was a point where we worked 21 days straight without having a day off.”
Pruitt also discussed the process of developing the “Oozemen” monsters that the Rangers battle in the first act of the film. The villains were designed with purpose-built, stunt-ready costumes in mind. The contrast of the Ooze monster suits with the heavy latex and rubber Ranger costumes built for the film was on display in the behind-the-scenes footage.
Steve Cardenas added his own perspective on the Ranger suits later as well, recalling that they were “made of this kind of latex rubber suit and then they’d adhered all of these rubber pieces on top of it. And each one of them were two or three pounds each…it was very heavy and difficult to move around in.”
Yost went on to give “props to the stunt crew,” who wore the suits for the majority of the filming. The stunt team were featured in much of Pruitt’s behind-the-scenes footage, with the cast and crew taking time to shout out the in-attendance Sophia Crawford. Crawford was the stunt performer for the Pink Ranger scenes, and later notably worked with now-husband Pruitt on the Buffy: the Vampire Slayer series after leaving Power Rangers.
Also in attendance at the screening was Robin Shou. The trailer for his upcoming film, Earthbound, was shown in a block of trailers that also included the two Mortal Kombat films he starred in as lead character Liu Kang.
The pre-show conversation also included outtakes from the film’s skydiving opening scene, footage featuring the visors and mouthpieces removed from the Rangers’ helmets, and test shoots of the Tengu Warriors suits and flight rigs. The footage also included a rare look at the filming of training scenes with Mariska Hargitay as Dulcea – in place of Gabrielle Fitzpatrick – who temporarily left the filming due to a medical emergency. The training scenes included the Rangers learning specialized skills and tricks like flight and enhanced speed, but were ultimately cut from the film when Fitzpatrick returned to the film.
“It was such a crazy whirlwind, Power Rangers, I think for all of us,” recalled Yost, “when we filmed the show and the whole first season before it started airing and we had nothing to gauge it on. So, once it aired, it went right to #1 and Christmas came around and you [referring to the audience of fans] were brats to your parents saying ‘I have to have this toy!’”
Cardenas reminisced about learning of the feature’s production immediately after being cast in the television series: “They told us, on the day we got hired, ‘we’re gonna shoot for a month and a half, and then we’re shutting production down to go to Australia to do a movie.’ And me and Johnny and Karan were just like ‘what?’ We couldn’t believe how our lives changed in a matter of four days.”
When asked how the cast and crew managed to complete the production of the series and film at the same time, Johnny Yong Bosch remarked, “We did have cots of our color…near the Command Center. It was a lot of work, even when we first came, in the first couple weeks. [Jeff Pruitt] was showing us how to react. Even as a martial artist, doing fight choreography is totally different. It has to be big. It had to be wide. You have to be able to see it. It has to look pretty.”
Pruitt remarked “I got a phone call from Haim [Saban, co-creator of the Power Rangers franchise], and he said ‘I have these new kids and they are wonderful, but you must make them look good — at all costs!’” He continued, “[The producers] just threw these kids in there and said ‘OK, you’re a TV star. Go!’”
“Pretty much right when I got to be a good actor, right when I felt like ‘I know what I’m doing,’ they fired us,” joked Bosch.
When asked what surprises them about fan events, after 20-plus years of the Power Rangers franchise, Cardenas noted that he’s totally understanding of fandom. “One of the things that got me into martial arts was watching The Karate Kid, and so the first time I went to a Comic-Con and Ralph Macchio was there, I went up to him and was like ‘dude, you are the reason I got into martial arts,” replied Cardenas, echoing back to similar comments he has heard from fans of the Power Rangers series over the years. “So when people come up and say that to me, I get it. I can relate.”
The cast were asked for their reactions to the ongoing legacy of the Power Rangers franchise, but Pruitt looked back to a time before the series even existed: “Back when Koichi [Sakamoto] and I were roommates, way before Power Rangers started, we saw a black-and-white ad in Variety magazine and it was the Toei company trying to sell the rights to the Rangers and, at that time, they were trying to make a deal with Stan Lee – with Marvel – to do it,” following up to explain that, “[Lee] wasn’t able to make the deal and so Margaret Loesch came along to help Haim to get it going,” then resuming, “I remember looking at Koichi and saying ‘Do you think kids in America would like really like that show?’ And he said ‘Oh yes! All kids like that show!’ And, about a year later, I was doing the show. Haim said to me, ‘I’ve got the rights for 20 years. We’re going to keep doing this for 20 years!’”
Pruitt laughed off his own reaction from the time, “‘No show lasts 20 years!’”
At the close of the screening, Davis thanked Pruitt, the cast members, and the fans – and requested that all contact Shout Factory via Twitter to hasten a Blu-ray release of the film.
Special thanks to Japan World Heroes and Power Morphicon showrunner, Scott Zillner.