Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie 1995
This is a film that I’m certain that I saw when I was younger, quite possibly in theaters. In fact as I was tweeting about this movie while watching it, my longtime friend reminded me that we actually watched it together back in ’95. I do remember watching those first few seasons of the Power Rangers, probably up until Amy Jo Johnson left as the Pink Ranger. But watching this movie again, on a DVD I rented from an actual video store no less, I remembered absolutely nothing about it. Not the villain aside from a few recent meme comparisons to the forthcoming Apocalypse, I didn’t even remember that three of the Rangers had been replaced. Heck, I didn’t even remember the name of the big red villain with the exposed brain and I’m pretty sure they never actually mentioned it during the entire course of the movie. It was essentially what I expected it to be: a bunch of cheesy one-liners with some 90’s teenage style and a little bit of good martial arts action mixed in.
If you’ve ever seen an episode of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the format is pretty similar: there’s a new monster, there’s fighting with the minions, then they have to morph into their costumes, then there’s a big monster, then they morph into their robots, then they combine into a big robot and defeat the big monster. Rinse, repeat. The big difference here is that in the show, most of the fighting when you don’t see the Ranger’s faces is actually pulled from many various Japanese TV shows, which is why they change costumes every couple seasons. But for their first theatrical movie, they actually filmed everything fresh, which helps explain why they do spend so little time in full costume this time around. One of the biggest issues is that this is directly tied into the TV show so there is very little explanation for what’s going on outside of an opening text crawl which sets up the concept of the Power Rangers in its barest form. The film expects that if you’re watching this film then you’re already familiar with all the characters and their dynamics, and since so much time is spent on moving the plot forward, there is precious little time for any character development outside of their battle one-liners.
The other big difference in this film is the set up for the new big bad who is only here for this single movie, Ivan Ooze played by Paul Freeman who is best known for his role as Belloq in Raider of the Lost Ark. While the other villains feel very much like their typical Japanese counterparts, Ooze is played much more with an American style of comedy. Specifically it seemed almost like he was doing a poor Bob Hope imitation, at least coming from someone who has only seen Bob Hope in parody form. His schtick felt extremely old fashioned and rather tame. When he’s “selling” his ooze to the kids he’s wearing an odd wizard outfit and making cheesy rhymes. His idea of fun is to make one of the brainwashed parents do half-hearted 70’s dances like the swim. He has an odd assortment of abilities as well, he’s basically a shapeshifter, but only does it a couple times, and the first time is just to mess with the Power Rangers. He can create minions out of nothing, but apparently needs to recruit all the adults of the town to dig up more of his ooze to pump into giant metal bug robots for some reason. Also, he’s able to break into the Rangers’ lair like it’s nothing and bust up the place right at the beginning of the movie. It’s just all over the place. Even they dynamic with the other villains from the show is weird, Rita Repulsa and Zedd are the ones that set Ooze free, but since Ooze doesn’t play second banana he shrinks them and traps them in a snow globe where they spend the rest of the movie.
Speaking of the beginning of the movie, it is steeped in 90’s X-treme culture. For no apparent reason, the Rangers are skydiving with Bulk and Skull before going roller blading. It’s seemingly just there to give the actors something fun to do before they start fighting baddies but it makes absolutely no sense and adds nothing to the film. It also goes to the trouble of setting up Bulk and Skull who then disappear until near the end of the third act. It doesn’t help that the Rangers are transported off to another world in order to gain some sort of power that can be used to re-power their base and stop Zordon from dying as he lays in his crystal bed in a weird looking snuggie. The best thing about the movie is the fight choreography, but even that is hampered by the need to keep it light so it’s littered with cartoon sound effects and awful pun-based one-liners at every possible moment. And when it finally comes to the end, instead of the costume based fighting that people are used to from the show, they switch over to some state-of-the-art mid-90’s CGI for both the bugs as well as a set of brand new animal based Zords who the Rangers are fully able to pilot despite having zero training with them.
The Rangers themselves end up going through this sub plot about them going to another world to meet this oddly primitive woman in a bikini who trains them in the art of “Ninjetti”. And by training, she means that they sit around a fire and get a new set of vaguely ninja looking outfits. At one point the Black Ranger asks why he has to be the frog, and she gives him a complete non-answer by saying that the frog is the one kissed by the princess. First, how would she know the very Earth-centric Princess and the Frog story, and second, how is that useful in a battle situation? There are just so many problems with this film that don’t make any sense whatsoever as an adult looking back on it. It would be almost impossible to make sense of it without every having seen an episode of the TV show, and even for someone who has watched it before, it doesn’t really add anything new aside from a new set of Zords who may or may not have even been a set up for the next season of the show. And there’s still the Turbo movie to come not long after this. Save me now. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.