POWER RANGERS MEGAFORCE: It was 20 Years Ago Today
by Greg Lynch Jr.
Our world sits on a precipice of destruction. Everyone has dropped their guard now that the deadline for the Mayan apocalypse passed with barely a whimper. But things are serious. Heaven's Tower has fallen and an alien invasion force called Warstar is poised to lay waste to the earth. Rumor has it that the Yuumajuu, monstrous insect creatures, are about to break out of their ten-thousand-year imprisonment. Giant robots shaped liked marine animals called Mantrintis are in line to enslave the earth. To top it all off, Brajira waits in the shadows, controlling these evil creatures.
What are we to do? Who stands between us and certain annihilation?
Fortunately, our Gosei Angel has put together a team of extraordinary teenagers who use power cards and zords to give themselves exceptional abilities. The team is called POWER RANGERS MEGAFORCE. You can start watching their exploits on the Nickelodeon Channel starting February 2 and find out whether we live or bow down to our new alien overlords.
If you are a boy between the age of 2 and 11, or if you were between those ages during the last twenty years, you picked up those references immediately. The Power Rangers have been a worldwide phenomenon for the last two decades. There have been a series, popular movies, DVD collections and a mountain of toys. The show has consistently been ranked the number one live-action TV show for young boys in Canada, England and the United States.
Twenty-thirteen will be the 20th anniversary season of the
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Haim Saban launched the series back in
1993. His clever idea was to take a Tokusatsu series from Japan, replace all the
Japanese actors who weren't in costume with American actors, and
combine the footage into a hit series. This year they will be using
the series TENSOU SENTAI GOSEIGER as the basis for the POWER
RANGERS MEGAFORCE. POWER RANGERS MEGAFORCE introduces an all-new
cast of actors as well as a new storyline. The traditional force of
Red, Blue, and Yellow Rangers will be joined this time out by a Pink
and a Black Ranger to comprise the five-person team.
But it's not an easy path to be a Power Ranger. For Christina Masterson, who plays Emma, the Pink Power Ranger, the process took three months of auditions. Azim Rizk, who plays Jake the Black Power Ranger, auditioned for two years. He thought he was just going to his manager for a series of check-ins when, as he explains it, "He (the manager) leaves the room. Comes back in with my mom on the phone and says, 'Hey, you're the Power Ranger.'"
Andrew Gray plays Troy, the Red Power Ranger, and had only one answer when asked by his agent if he would like to try out for the series, "Heck, yeah." Eight months of auditions later he was hired.
Like Azim, Ciara Hanna spent two years auditioning before she was offered the role of Gia, the Yellow Power Ranger. But Ciara was no stranger to the long audition process. Previously, she battled 70000 girls to appear on the shorty season of AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL, where she made it all the way to the round of 13. It was AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL though that reinvigorated her desire to get back in front of the camera. "It really fired that energy inside me, that made me want to be in front of the camera. And that's when I moved to LA. Two years of auditioning and BAM, I'm a Power Ranger."
All four of the actors had been pursuing their careers diligently for quite some time. Ciara had been acting from age 8 to 13, appearing in local productions as well as commercials for the UK. Christina appeared on THE SECRET LIFE OF AN AMERICAN TEENAGER, CSI, NOT ANOTHER HIGH SCHOOL SHOW and SHARKPROOF. Andrew has modeled since 2005, appearing all over the world, and has booked jobs with Hollister, Vanity Fair and Dior. He also pursued his dream of being actor, appearing in shows alongside Kate Bosworth and Marion Cotillard. Akim did six years of local theater in Tuscon, AZ, before moving to Hollywood. He worked on the shows ALL TOGETHER NOW, THE MIDDLE, and PERCEPTION.
The only new Power Ranger who doesn't quite fit the profile is John Mark Loudermilk, who plays Noah, the Blue Power Ranger. He started acting at his high school in Columbus, Georgia. He did a training course in Tyron, GA, which led to a partial scholarship to the NY Film Academy. John got a manager shortly after graduation which led to him getting his very first job: Power Ranger. "Three auditions and I'm booking a flight to New Zealand," said John.
It was a life-altering event for the cast, their friends, and their family. For John, he had a very personal reason for being the Blue Power Ranger. "One day, I'm an everyday actor going on everyday auditions," says John. "Then the next day I am my best friend's icon, his hero when he was eleven years old sitting in the hospital and the Blue Power Ranger walks through the door. It lightened up his day then. And then I call him, when I got the role, and he went insane. It's an incredible feeling."
Andrew had a similar reaction from his mother. "My mom was a little overwhelmed at first, for me. She was freaking out - I think more than I was. 'Cause she just knows, growing up, being the Red Ranger was a big part of my childhood. She used to walk me on Halloween in my gear, multiple years in a row. Now, she's watching me be that character. She's pretty pumped."
New Zealand plays the role of the United States in POWER RANGERS MEGAFORCE. The entire cast relocated to New Zealand for three-and-a-half months to film the twenty episodes for this season. The studio lies near Peter Jackson's facility, so a lot of crew members from the LORD OF THE RINGS films and AVATAR worked on the Power Ranger's show.
Originally, they all started off in separate rooms in a hotel, but as shooting progressed, they all opted to move into a house together. "Everyone was so worried about us", says Ciara. "We heard horror stories. We all get along very well." "We complement each other," added Andrew.
The road to defending the earth from malignant forces is not without its challenges. For Andrew, it was staying focused over the course of working twelve-hour shifts, six days a week. Ciara and John both had characters who were opposite to their personalities. In both cases, they were extroverts trying to get into the mindset of introverts. Akim seems to be blurring the lines between fiction and reality. His biggest challenge is to "Not take random bad guys down in the street." Christina probably had to overcome the biggest challenge. Emma, the character Christina plays, is an amazing BMX rider who spends a lot of time out riding her bike. But for Christina, "I am horrified of bikes. I had a really bad accident when I was a child. I haven't been on a bike since. Power Rangers helped me to conquer that fear."
If you are familiar with the show, you know the majority of the fighting is done in the Goseiger section of show. But if you are one of Earth's Defenders who never surrenders, you don't get a pass on the combat. Ciara was amazed at the amount of civilian fights in which she was involved. Civilian fights are what they call the fights when they are not in their Power Ranger gear. It's a good thing then Ciara's father taught her some Kung Fu when she was a child.
All the actors were given a two-week boot camp by the stunt team. The stunt team, or "stunties" as the cast refers to them, were the same people who did all the original stunts on the Japanese portion of the show. During boot camp, the main lesson was safety. They were taught defensive techniques before they moved on to any attack maneuvers. They learnt about flexibility and strength training. The whole cast couldn't say enough nice things about their stunt team. Andrew felt he learned something new from them every day.
The biggest challenge for Andrew was the fake punches and fake kicks. He has a background in wrestling, boxing, and Muay Thai. His big challenge was to reign in his natural combat instincts but still make the punches believable.
Another big component of their stunt training was rolls. Rolls, back rolls and shoulder rolls were all part of the coursework. The reason for so much emphasis on rolls was all the explosions in the show. As Akim, a Jiu-jitsu practitioner and fencer, states, "The whole idea of rolls was, an explosion goes off in the background. You go flying through the air and you land. You have to be able to land into something. Otherwise your momentum just hits the ground." At the end of all this training, Christina - who had no martial arts background - felt like a "crazy super hero." She could attack her opponents "with one punch and they would fly across the room."
Up to now, the group has been working far from the media, toiling away in the relative seclusion of New Zealand. They haven't had the chance to fully experience what it means to be the latest in a long line of Power Rangers. Their only public appearance so far has been at the Power Rangers Morphicon. The ecstatic reaction to their introduction was a little overwhelming, catching even the producers off guard. Although they have shot the first twenty episodes, the public has yet to see what the new POWER RANGERS MEGAFORCE can accomplish. Unfortunately, just as the show airs for the first time in the United States, John, Andrew, Azim, Ciara, and Christine will be flying back to New Zealand to start work on the next set of twenty shows. They are all hopeful that Twitter and Facebook will explode with news of their exploits.
Of course, we can all find out if the new POWER RANGERS MEGAFORCE members are worthy successors to the Power Ranger canon by tuning in to Nickelodeon on February 2.
And remember: Earth's Defenders never surrender.
|Discuss this article online|
|Mighty Morphin Power Ranger news|
About Greg Lynch Jr.:
Greg Lynch Jr. is the head writer/director/bottle-washer for Badass Bunny Productions. Badass Bunny will shoot anything. You can find them at BadAssBunnyProductions.com. For more on POWER RANGERS MEGAFORCE, visit nick.com.