It’s been three decades since the incredibly entertaining television franchise Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first took off, and an anniversary special hit Netflix in order to celebrate. With actors reprising their classic roles and a higher budget, fans of the thirty year-old series had a lot to look forward to. Does it give fans everything they’ve been waiting all this time for, or does it miss the mark? Let’s take a look back at all the nostalgic details to find out.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always celebrates the legacy of the series in many ways. One of the most prominent ways it does so is by continuing the story from decades ago. The special shows where most of the rangers are now in their adult lives and what they’ve been up to. It’s genuinely nice to see how their lives have been. It’s like checking in with old friends. It all works within the canon, too. It all fits in nicely within what has been set up by the series, from Zordon’s demise to Adam and Aisha being founding members of S.P.A. (which would later become S.P.D.).
It also celebrates the series with plenty of references for fans to keep an eye out for. From a sign for a restaurant owned by Bulk and Skull to Lightning Collection action figures, there’s plenty of Easter eggs that even the most diehard fans would be surprised by. It makes some backgrounds and musical queues feel extremely nostalgic.
There is plenty of heart throughout this special. The characters have clearly grown to see each other as family and it shows. There are a handful of moments that are more than enough to make the tears flow. It’s quite surprising to see this done with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but it works really well, especially for long-time fans. This level of emotion truly gets the audience to care for the characters more than ever.
The special is not without its humor though. There are more than enough funny moments that will have audiences laughing out loud. Through one-liners and situational humor, the special is overall quite funny. The cheesiness that folks remember from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is fully intact. It just wouldn’t be Power Rangers without the extra corny moments.
This anniversary is full of big action. Rangers (both morphed and unmorphed) taking on Putties and monsters is a truly exciting time. They actually use their weapons to their fullest which is nice to see since the series often avoided that. The MegaZord battle is short, but pulls off some crazy moves it never has before.
Rita and her Putties are much more of a threat this time around which makes the action even more suspenseful. The Putties straight up throw a civilian off of a building. Rita successfully kills a Ranger and comes close to defeating all Rangers once and for all. Seeing these classic baddies up the ante makes the stakes feel higher than ever.
Even though this is just a 55-minute special, there are characters who receive full arcs. We see Billy make a major mistake and grow to come to terms with it. Trini’s daughter, Minh, learns to fight for the right reasons rather than just revenge. It’s quite satisfying and emotional to see this development reach full arcs.
It’s known that two of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers actors are no longer with us, and the franchise absolutely would not be the same without them. Once & Always pays tribute to them in a beautiful way. It’s genuinely nice to see them honored in such a way that shows how much they meant to the fans.
Once & Always feels like it starts off in the middle of the story and that the audience missed something as a result. There’s some explaining later on in the special that clears things up, but the initial confusion does take a lot away from enjoying the excitement and nostalgia during those first scenes.
As great as this special is, it could have been more. Instead of it being just 55 minutes long, it could have easily been made into a feature-length movie. Because of this, the story feels rushed at times and some scenes don’t feel quite as exciting. There could have been more plot dedicated to other Rangers like Adam and Aisha, more on Billy’s search for Zordon, and a much longer MegaZord battle. There didn’t seem to be much of a reason for it to be kept less than an hour, especially if it hurts the story by doing so.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always captures everything that fans love about the original television phenomenon while also expanding on its story and the lore of that universe. It’s action-packed, emotional, funny, and overall extremely entertaining. If it was longer and the story was told ever-so-slightly differently it could have been even greater. Hopefully this is the start of a trend involving Power Rangers specials. An anniversary celebration for Zeo would be terrific in a few years.
Rating: 8.5 / 10