Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie
Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie 1997
When I was watching the original Power Rangers movie I was coming at it from a place of half-remembered nostalgia. Even though I didn’t remember it, I still remembered a large portion of the cast. And even though Turbo follows the format of the show much more closely, it suffered from a severe lack of fight scenes and had it even worse with the lack of connection or explanation of the new villainess. It served as essentially the pilot episode of the new season of the show as they transitioned out some more of the cast and a new set of costumes and robots likely pulled from a completely different Japanese series. And yet, even though it mirrored the actual television episodes more closely, it was even less satisfying than the first movie as an actual film.
Just like the first movie, there’s a text crawl that attempts to explain what’s going on in a style that even more closely resembles the Star Wars crawl. The problem is that it’s filled with so many proper names that it’s nearly impossible to keep them all straight when it’s dumped on the audience like that. It doesn’t help to jump from the first movie to this one where half the cast has changed, and aside from Tommy the only other Rangers still on the team were the completely forgettable Rocky and Adam. But since the actor playing Rocky was leaving the show, he manages to injure himself while training for a martial arts tournament that will raise funds for a struggling orphanage. The worst part is that he doesn’t just injure himself while training, he just does a random backflip badly for no real apparent reason. In fact, not long after that yet another Ranger gets injured while searching for a weird & creepy hobbit-looking magician in the jungle. But luckily the hobbit-magician Larigot has the power of healing. Unlucky for poor Rocky, they never get Larigot to make the trip over to Rocky’s hospital bed.
The new villain of this movie is a space queen named Divatox who is trying to resurrect a lava demon to be her husband for some reason. In order to do this, she needs this Larigot wizard as well as two pure souls to use as a sacrifice. This is really just an excuse to cram in a few more characters, including Bulk and Skull who we also get to see in their day job at a baseball diamond as security. They’re given way too much set up time when they very quickly get brainwashed and spend the rest of the film as a mere punchline where they get to say a random line that doesn’t make any sense and isn’t supposed to. The other two characters are the original Pink and Red rangers who also don’t really get to do a whole lot in the film other than try to escape from this submarine and turn evil for a couple minutes in the finale. Which is a shame since Amy Jo Johnson felt like the best part of the movie, though that may still be some nostalgia talking.
What really doesn’t make sense about this film is the absolute lack of fighting. During the entire hour and a half run time, there are only about three actual fight scenes as well as a couple fight scenes for the martial arts tournament training at the beginning and the actual tournament at the end. And two of those fight scenes are resolved very quickly. There’s a fight on the ghost ship which takes place at night so there’s little to see anyway. There’s the final fight with the big lava monster in their brand new Turbo Zords which was nice to see the return to the costumed fighting after the awful CGI in the previous movie but it also was over in about five punches. And the one big fight was in the lava pit itself where all five Rangers got to fight to try and save the two ex-Rangers. It was also where those ex-Rangers turned evil so we got to have a little Ranger on Ranger action which wasn’t quite as exciting as it sounds. But for the rest of the movie, it was spent just setting things up for this fight and the series to come after it.
One of the most mind-boggling moments was the introduction of the new Blue Ranger. He happens to be one of the kids in the orphanage, or possibly some type of kid’s shelter since he talks about his mother as though she’s still alive. He goes to visit Rocky in the hospital but ends up hiding under the bed and overhearing the Rangers talk to Zordon. So just through pure luck he ends up being the new Blue Ranger despite being around 12. Not only that, but when he transforms- err morphs, he obviously turns into a fully grown adult that no one ever mentions. It was very bizarre to see the actor in the Blue Ranger costume prance around like a kid and speak with the voice of the same kid.
There’s really not much more to say about this movie. It really felt like essentially a two part episode that set up the next season of the show that spent a lot of unnecessary time in the jungle and with this weird looking small magician creature who spent the entire movie dying to try and save his even creepier looking wife and baby. Divatox was a far cry from the campy fun of Rita Repulsa, and none of the plot made any sense whatsoever. The one saving grace was that the lava monster did actually look pretty impressive, but he was only onscreen for a scant few minutes before being defeated by the Megazord. If anything, I’m just glad that I’m done with these Power Rangers movies until next year at least. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.