It’s been 20 years since Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers first debuted on our television screens, when I realised this it made think back to when I was Ranger mad as child growing up, fanatic about the show, begging my mom and dad every year at Christmas to get me anything Power Ranger related. Then suddenly I realised it’s been 20 years, and that makes me feel old, especially for my generation who grew up on the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. The classic line-up of Jason (Austin St. John), Kimberly (Amy Jo Johnson), Billy (David Yost), Zack (Walter Jones) and Trini (Thuy Trang)… and not forgetting the most popular member on the show Tommy (Jason David Frank) is still considered the best line-up of all the shows since.
Back in 1993 the show became a huge success worldwide and it didn’t take Saban long to jump the gun and make a Power Rangers movie. Now by the time production began on the movie the series had changed slightly: gone were Jason, Trini and Zack, replaced by Adam (Johnny Bosch) Rocky (Steve Cardenas) and Aisha (Karan Ashley).
Now when I’m looking at these films with a critical eye, especially superhero films I ask, who is the protagonist? Why does the protagonist feel the need to be a superhero? Is the protagonist sympathetic? What is the antagonist’s motivation? Is his path to the dark side believable? What are the themes? What is the films message? But then again this is Power Rangers so those questions can be answered within a minute: the heroes are the Power Rangers who fight in colourful costumes, they are heroes because Zordon (the big head in the tube) told them to be heroes. The antagonist is Ivan Ooze (Paul Freeman). He doesn’t have a reason to be evil because he is made out of Ooze and that makes you evil, he was born this way and never had a chance to be good. Now this is the kind of logic that this movie’s universe serves to you. As an adult you may think it’s silly and corny, but as a kid from the early 90’s, this is kick ass!
The movie starts off as you’d expect a Power Rangers movie to start… with skydiving. Apparently the Rangers along with Bulk & Skull (Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy) are competing in a charity skydiving event in Angel Groove (the Ranger equivalent to Metropolis) and then as soon as that finishes you see the Rangers rollerblading, because when I think of Power Rangers, I think of skydiving and rollerblading. This will bring me to my first gripe about the movie. In the first series of Power Rangers, the characters where given characteristics to define who they were, Zack liked hip hop, Kimberly was a gymnast etc but Rocky, Aisha and Adam don’t really have interests other than martial arts. For example, when you look at the Ninja Turtles, Leonardo obviously has leadership skills and has a no nonsense attitude about himself, Rafael is short tempered and anti social, Michelangelo is laid back, wise cracking and never looks more than a few minutes ahead and Donatello is a problem solver, patient and analytical. Each have their own strengths and weaknesses which let each one play off another in interesting ways, whilst when you look at the Power Rangers in this movie, you don’t get the same feeling. Adam looks a little more laid back than Rocky, but that is never put into the story. Are Tommy and Kimberly dating? I mean he puts his arm around her a few times but nothing is confirmed. Tommy is the leader, I guess, but I think that’s down to the script telling us he is.
Ivan Ooze is released from his prison by Lord Zed and Rita Repulsa (villains from the original show) and even though Ivan is supposedly the most evil entity in the galaxy, Zed and Rita don’t see him betraying them. Finally, 30 minutes into the film we finally see the Power Rangers fight and morph into their costumes, and I gotta say, honestly their costumes look absolutely amazing, I’m glad they didn’t go down the route of the television series and wear spandex, I love the armour look to these costumes. And the fight scenes that follow as they battle Ivan Ooze’s henchmen is pretty impressive. But during this fight, Ivan breaks into the Command Centre and destroys Zordon’s life support machine and destroying his power and in turn disabling the Power Rangers’ suits. They rush back to the Command Centre only to find that Ivan Ooze has destroyed it and has left Zordon dying.
The only way for them to save him is for the Power Rangers to go to the far reaches of the galaxy to the planet Phaedos to bring back the ‘Great Power’. So as they muster enough energy to be teleported to this planet, Ivan uncovers what they plan to do and sends his flying minions to stop them. The Rangers instantly run into trouble on this distant planet and in turn find the help of the super sexy Dulcea (Gabrielle Fitzpatrick) who knew of Zordon and the evil Ivan Ooze, and soon after she introduces them to their new spirit guides: Tommy has the falcon, Kimberly the crane, Aisha the bear, Billy the wolf, Rocky the gorilla and, I won’t lie I still think it’s funny that Adam has a frog, and I’d be disappointed too, the rest get cool animals and all he gets is a frog? But he calms down after he gets a kiss from Dulcea and then decides that he’s ok with it now.
Other than the fact that they get new ninja suits it’s not really that interesting, and the supposed dangers that they would face on this planet go from fighting really poorly animated dinosaur bones and then fighting rock monsters before reaching the ‘Great Power’ and in turn they get their Ranger suits back.
There’s also a little subplot that I forgot to mention, during their quest on Phaedos, Ivan Ooze brainwashes all of Angel Grove’s parents into helping him unearth his mechanical monsters from centuries ago. And when they are rebuilt he then decides that his “zombies” are no fun and tells them to leap to their doom, which is funny because that’s what the parents chant to themselves as they march off a cliff.
The Rangers arrives and call upon their new Zords to fight Ivan’s monsters and we finally get to see… some of the worst CGI I have ever seen in my life, by far the worst CGI I will ever see in my lifetime, I would have actually preferred to have seen guys in the suits and miniature cityscapes over this abomination. The whole climax is a letdown, and I know you should judge a film on its story not on its effects, but it’s such a letdown, especially for fans of the original series as our favourite moment was the end of the episode when we’d see the Zords battle the evil monsters. But in the end, to defeat Ivan Ooze, the Ninja Zord flies into space and kicks Ooze in the happy sack, which sends him into an oncoming comet, which kills him. The Rangers then save Zordon, and remember when I mentioned about a film having a message? Well the message is stated by Tommy towards the end of the film where he states “remember what we learned? With the great power, anything is possible.” So basically what he is saying is all you have to do is fly to a planet the other side of the galaxy, go on a hiking trip, meet a hot woman who will introduce you to your spirit guide, pretend to be a ninja, and find the great power. Then you can do whatever you want. Sure.
See, it sounds like I’m bashing this movie, and I love the Power Rangers, but from a filmmaking point of view, it’s not very good. As a child I loved this movie, the updated costumes and the fact that it was a Power Rangers movie was enough to sway me. But as an adult and a critic, I can’t help but see its flaws. And it’s not even considered cannon so it adds nothing to the mythos of Power Rangers.
But Kimberly is still hot though.
What did you think of Power Rangers: The Movie? Was it Morphinomical? Or did Ivan Ooze have the last laugh?