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Power Rangers 30th Anniversary Special: Once and Always Review

The Power Rangers 30th Anniversary Special, "Once and Always," was more of a one-hour episode than a movie. It features a few members of the original cast teaming up with other familiar faces from more recent spin-offs to stop a classic villain, but it won't thrill those of us who have grown up since the Rangers' heyday. The special is cheesy as ever, and the plot is clunky, with dialogue that ranges from cheesy to cringey. Despite its earnest emotions, the special is lacking in quality. Nearly every aspect of its production, from fight choreography to special effects, feels like it didn't get the love and attention it deserved. The 3D version of the Megazord is particularly cringey, and my 8-year-old self would have been just as disappointed as I am now.

However, what elevates this special is its intimate focus on the tragic real-world loss of Yellow Ranger actor Thuy Trang, who passed away in a car accident in 2001. This is the first time her death is acknowledged in canon, and the special offers fans some closure as we learn how the Yellow Ranger met her fate, meet the daughter she left behind, and see how the team grapples with her tragic loss. It's a heavy subject to tackle in a series that usually keeps things light and fun, so it's a credit to the scriptwriters that they handle it with such genuine heart and sincerity.

Original Power Rangers actors David Yost and Walter Jones return to their roles as Billy and Zach, respectively, and as they mourn Trini, it's clear to see they're expressing actual grief about losing their real-world castmate and friend. While Billy and Zach try to deal with the returned Rita Repulsa, they also struggle to raise Trini's daughter, Minh, and it's their fatherly relationship with this hot-headed teen that forms the tender emotional heart of the story.

Despite its flaws, "Once and Always" remembers to have plenty of fun. There's playful martial arts action, weird monster villains, and colorful settings galore. As one would expect from a 30th anniversary special, it goes hard on the nostalgia, and as someone who grew up watching Power Rangers religiously as a kid, the many callbacks definitely did the trick on me. However, I had to put my childhood Power Rangers fandom aside and truly reckon with the lackluster quality of this special.

In conclusion, "Once and Always" is a decent special that celebrates the legacy of Power Rangers, but it deserved better in terms of quality. The emotional storyline regarding the loss of Trini adds depth to the special, but the clunky plot and lackluster production detract from its overall appeal. From my 8-year-old perspective, I rate this special 7/10, but from my current adult perspective, it's a 5/10.

Power Rangers 30th Anniversary Special, "Once and Always is now available for streaming on Netflix.

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