Power Rangers Beast Morphers "Beasts Unleashed" // Review
In the future, the Grid Battleforce's scientists are on the verge of a technological breakthrough after tapping into the Power Rangers' energy source called the Morphin Grid. By converting Grid Energy into a liquid called Morph-X humanity has entered a new golden age of renewable power. However, they have also invited danger in the form of the tyrannical Evox, a sentient computer virus desiring the Grid's power for himself. Can a new team of Power Rangers, augmented with animal DNA and armed with new Morph-X powered weapons, stop this menace? Only time will tell as this conflict rages on in the series Power Rangers Beast Morphers!
For those unaware, the past eight years or so have been a bit of a slump for the television portion of the Power Rangers franchise. What is now referred to as the "Neo-Saban Era," marking the re-acquisition of the brand by creator Haim Saban up to his recent re-selling of it to toy company Hasbro, has been a mixed-to-negative assortment of installments for the 26-year-old television series. While the seasons all had high moments, especially in the two years of Power Rangers Dino Charge, the era is known for the most part as a de-evolution for the franchise full of laziness, cost-cutting, unambitious production, and hollow morals. For Power Rangers to continue into the modern era of television drastic changes had to made with fans all looking to Hasbro to breath new life to the series with new season Beast Morphers. Moreover, if this premiere is any indication, not only is Beast Morphers the new direction fans have been waiting for, but it may go down in history as one of the greatest Power Ranger seasons ever.
The first thing to note about Beast Morphers first episode "Beasts Unleashed" is how much it packs into a 22 minute run time. The episode introduces the audience to the cast, city of Coral Harbor, Grid Battleforce, Morph-X, and starts the arcs of the three main Rangers. Red Ranger Devon is a carefree directionless youth, Blue Ranger Ravi is a strict warrior who cares more about duty than personal happiness, and Yellow Ranger Zoey is an idealistic dreamer striving to bring change into the world. These all are relatable personalities that make the characters seem multi-dimensional as opposed to stock heroes, brought to life beautifully by the authentic performances of their actors. Jacqueline Scislowski 's Zoey has an inspiring charm to her and Jazz Budwallia's Ravi has backstory filled with story possibility for later episodes, but the scene stealer of the trio is without question Devon played by Rorrie D. Travis. Travis' mix of confident swagger and conflicted daddy issues echo Red Rangers of the past such as Wes Collins and Scott Truman but kept fresh thanks to Travis' unique energy and a well-made script.
Everything in the episode is excellently paced, balancing the various concepts and characters in a way that seems almost unimaginable considering how many plot points the premiere juggles. No moment is a waste as every piece of dialogue sets the ground for future development as well as draw the audience in and keeping them engaged. A great example of this is when new comedic relief Betty and Ben harass Devon's father Mayor Daniels, which allows Devon to sneak into Grid Battleforce undetected. The interaction with Mayor Daniels and the hilarious security guards keeps humor in the show while not slowing the plot or seeming removed from the rest of the episode. Mayor Daniels is also in another stand-out scene where he cites some reservations he has on the cultivation of Morph-X name dropping past season villains like Rita Repulsa and Galvanax. Not only is such a moment great fanservice to long-time watchers, but it also utilizes past continuity as an advantage rather than ignore it as past seasons chose to do.
The production design is also stand out, especially in regards to the fight scenes which demand the audience's attention with its dynamic visuals. Once again Neo-Saban's production always looked good, well shot, and adequately made. However, the choreography in Beast Morphers has raised the bar both in terms of the dynamics of the movement as well as adding creativity to the actions performed by the Rangers. The Rangers still punch and kick the bad guys, but they also use their powers in out of the box ways, promoting problem-solving and critical thinking as well as physical self-defense. There is just a ton of personality and polish with the fighting in Beast Morphers that keeps it from being stilted by the numbers brawl.
"Beasts Unleashed" had to do double duty as a premiere debuting the new season of Beast Morphers but also debuting the tone and style of Power Rangers for the foreseeable future under Hasbro. So with everything against it, it somehow manages to succeed on every level while still being an enjoyable episode in and of itself. Recommended viewing to Ranger fans of any age. Let the Cyber Battles begin.