With the morphinominal Power Rangers reboot movie hitting home video in just a couple weeks, I wanted to take the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the original theatrical outing of the multi-colored Teenagers With Attitudes so I popped in my DVD of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers The Movie.
Power Rangers The Movie was released in theaters in 1995 at the height of the Power Rangers popularity. The movie featured the second team featuring original rangers Tommy (White Ranger), Billy (Blue Ranger) and Kimberly (Pink Ranger) and new comers to the series after the departure of the original Red, Black and Yellow Rangers. Adam (Black Ranger), Aisha (Yellow Ranger) and Rocky (Red Ranger) take over for Zack, Trini and Jason respectively.
The film’s plot, so much as there really is one, centers around Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa’s search for a centuries old Hyperlock Chamber that serves as a prison for the villainous Ivan Ooze who was imprisoned six thousand years ago by Power Rangers Leader and disembodied floating head Zordon.
Zedd wants Ivan Ooze to destroy Zordon and thereby destroying the Power Rangers. The destruction of the Ranger’s Command Center leads them on a quest on a far away planet to find a new power centered on Ninjitsu and the Ninja Zords.
In the absence of the Rangers to stand in his way, Ooze over throws Rita and Zedd, enslaves the parents of Angel Grove using mystical slime and begins the search for his own giant robots that were hidden long ago beneath Angel Grove. Naturally the Rangers find their new powers and Zords, return to earth, destroy Oozes Ecto-Morphicon Titans and then Ooze himself, saving Angel Grove and all of humanity.
Sure, its a pretty basic story all together, but honestly, what did you expect from The Power Rangers, Hamlet-like dramatics? So lets dig into the particulars. First, lets get the bad out of the way.
This is the Power Rangers. Its full of annoying sound effects during the fight scenes. Bonks, Zings and Swooshes are all over the place here. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they had been used lightly to accent a few moments when they kind of belonged, especially when it is just the “Teens” themselves fighting before they morph. Once the team morphs, swish away all you like. It fits in those moments and would give a nice division between teen and ranger.
Also, lets talk about the elephant in the room. The CGI. Dear god, the CGI is bad and it takes up the majority of the last 20 minutes of the movie once the Rangers return to earth to fight Ooze and his robots. I mean, I knew that they wouldn’t go with a guy in a suit, but come on, this is just insulting, especially when Ooze enters into the Wasp Morphicon Titan and it morphs into a giant CGI Ivan Ooze, its just the stuff of nightmares, and not in the good way.
But despite all of that, there is plenty to love about the movie. And the biggest saving grace is Paul Freeman (Raiders of the Lost Ark’s Belloq) as the lead villain Ivan Ooze. I read an interview that Freeman had never even heard of the franchise before taking the role, that he just loved the fact that Ivan Ooze was a classic over the top, scene chewing, ham of a villain and unashamedly so. Whenever Freeman is on screen (and Oozes design is outstanding) it is such a joy to watch him over act in the best of ways. He creates something so memorable and fun to watch out of something that could have been so outstandingly awful.
The movie does maintain the tone of Power Rangers and ups the look and the budget, giving pretty much everything from the TV show a much needed face lift for its first “big” budget outing. The design team should be applauded for taking a bunch of people in latex tights and making them look and feel like warriors. The look especially shines in the villains overhaul. Lord Zedd, still one of my favorite villain costumes of all time, looks terrifying to a kid. Even his exposed brain pulses and moves.
However, weirdly enough, there is one decision that was made that just utterly confuses me. Instead of using Babboo and Squat, 2 henchmen from the show, the team consolidated the two into a single new character that is never seen again. A pig monster named Mordont. He works fine, and the costume is lovely, its just a decision that confuses.
But, I cant end this review without talking about one of the stand out duos to make have a true character arc. Of course, I am talking about Bulk and Skull.
Throughout the original few seasons, Bulk and Skull were the antagonists to the unmorphed team. Always played for laughs, the duo quickly became a fan favorite in the series and made a splash with their move to the big screen. They go from being one note bullies to heroes through the course of the movie all while still keeping what made them so like-able to begin with, being the series answer to the 3 Stooges. Their arc from Bully to Hero does continue through the shows following seasons.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie moves along at a brisk pace, maintains its sense of fun and urgency, has some highly entertaining performances but does suffer from the technology of the time. Does it hold up? Well, yes… Kind of. When it works, it clicks on all cylinders, but when it fails, it fails hard. If you took your kid to see the reboot, why not show them the original movie? They will probably love it and you will get a bit of a nostalgic high. At the end of the day, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie is worth your time.
Oh, and by the way, if you happen to be a retro gamer, checkout the SNES games attached to the movie, they are DAMN fun!