Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995)

 

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

“Man, I’m beat. That list of the 25 most punchable Disney sidekicks took a lot longer than I thought. I think I’ll just relax with some internet browsing. Just log on to www.fishfistingandfuckingforfun.com...”

“Man, I’m beat. That list of the 25 most punchable Disney sidekicks took a lot longer than I thought. I think I’ll just relax with some internet browsing. Just log on to www.fishfistingandfuckingforfun.com…”

“What ya doin'?"

“What ya doin’?”

“Argh!”

“Aaaaaah!”

“Aaaah!"

“Aaaah!”

“Wait a minute, I know you! You’re Baby Mouse, the mental projection of my inner child.”

“Wait a minute, I know you! You’re Baby Mouse, the mental projection of my inner child.”

“And a clunky, exposition-filled “hello” to you too.”

“And a clunky, exposition-filled “hello” to you too.”

“What are you doing back? I thought you’d returned to the deepest recesses of my psyche?”

“What are you doing back? I thought you’d returned to the deepest recesses of my psyche?”

“Hate to break it to you dude, but after all the messing around Disney and the Horned King did to your brain, escaping the deepest recesses of your psyche is about as difficult as busting out of Arkham.”

“Hate to break it to you dude, but after all the messing around Disney and the Horned King did to your brain, escaping the deepest recesses of your psyche is about as difficult as busting out of Arkham.”

“Well what do you want?”

“Well what do you want?”

“I’m bored, I want to watch another movie.”

“I’m bored, I want to watch another movie.”

“Okay fine, which one?”

“Okay fine, which one?”

mmpr-poster
“No! No, no, no. I’m putting my foot down. Not only is it terrible, it’s not even an animated movie. It’s cartoon’s only on this blog, buster.”

“No! No, no, no. I’m putting my foot down. Not only is it terrible, it’s not even an animated movie. It’s cartoon’s only on this blog, buster.”

“Oh c’mon! It’s the BEST MOVE EVER!”

“Oh c’mon! It’s the BEST MOVE EVER!”

“That’s what you said about Transformers!”

“That’s what you said about Transformers!

“I may have been overly hasty in my appraisal. I’m impetuous, it’s part of my charm. Now review the movie before I start telling people about all your weird fetishes.”

“I may have been overly hasty in my appraisal. I’m impetuous, it’s part of my charm. Now review the movie before I start telling people about all your weird fetishes.”

“Okay! Okay! Be cool!"

“Okay! Okay! Be cool!”

When Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (yes, “Morphin”, not “Morphing” or “Morphin’ ” and may God have mercy on us all) first debuted in 1993 it was like nothing that had ever been seen before on Western screens. The series was the brainchild of producers Haim Saban and Shuki Levy, who came across a Japanese TV show called Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger, which featured giant robots battling monsters because Japan knows what it likes and that’s fine. Saban and Levy hit on the idea of splicing the action footage from the Japanese show with cheaply shot and made footage of American actors to create their own series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. And the plot basically goes like this. While exploring the moon…
Really guys? You...you couldnt shoot at night to make that even slightly convincing?

Really guys? You…you couldn’t even wait until night to shoot that and make it even slightly convincing?

…two astronauts accidentally free a powerful witch named Rita Repulsa and her various underlings. Rita proceeds to try and conquer Earth with her usual method of sending one monster at a time to attack one city over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over until finally her enemies are defeated through the crushing force of existential ennui. A giant head in a bubble named Zordon, who’s just been chillin’ like a villain waiting for evil to show up, and his over excitable robot PA Alpha 5, recruit five teenagers in their late thirties and gift them with colour coded powers and costumes based on their ethnicity.
Racist

Oh! Oh! Oh! So the Red and Pink rangers are white?! Why, because we sunburn easily? That’s funny to you?!

Sidenote; the creators of the show swear blind that it was just an accident that the Black Ranger was a black guy (which, okay, could be fine, there is a long proud tradition of black superheroes whose names begin with “Black”) and the Yellow Ranger was Asian (Which. Just. No.). Much as  I’d like to believe that it was just an innocent oversight and that no one noticed until it was too late…no, I’m sorry. Don’t buy it. Even as a kid I spotted it instantly and I can’t believe that not one of the adults creating this didn’t twig it. Later on, Zack (the black ranger) was replaced by Adam (who was Asian) and Trini (the Yellow Ranger) was replaced by Aisha (who was black) but yeah, the early series of Power Rangers were kinda race-faily.
Superior

Also, when the White Ranger was introduced and just instantly becomes the leader and is just so amazing and is superior to all the other rangers that, that, that, that did not help.

Anyway. 99% of the episodes go like this: The Power Rangers have a problem in their civilian lives. Rita sends a monster to start shit. They fight. They can’t beat it. They turn into Power Rangers. They fight. They beat it. Rita makes the monster huge. The Rangers call their Zords (five massive robot “dinosaurs” of which two are actually dinosaurs), they combine to form the Megazord, they fight the giant monster, he dies, the Rangers learn a lesson, Rita gets a headache. The end. This was Power Rangers. And it was awful.
Like, objectively terrible. The writing stank, the character were one-note, the American footage and the Japanese footage were hopelessly mismatched, the special effects were bargain basement and precisely one member of the original main cast was capable of something which could be called “acting” without running afoul of the Trade Descriptions Act.
“Gasp! Judas!"

“Gasp! Judas!”

Wait, I’m going somewhere with this.
It was also diabolically brilliant. For kids growing up in the nineties this show was pure, Grade A heroin. And yes, I said “kids”, not “boys”, as the presence of the two female rangers meant this show actually appealed to kids of both genders, something none of the advertainment shows of the eighties had ever really managed to do. The way the series managed to cram just about anything that a kid could want in a TV show was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Look at this Venn Diagram of the overlap between things that are awesome when you’re eight and things that are in Power Rangers.
Yeah. Its a goddamn circle.

Yeah. Its a goddamn circle.

Power Rangers hit TV screens and within a month was the biggest thing on the planet. There had never been anything like this before. I actually perfectly remember the moment when Power Rangers were suddenly EVERYWHERE, cereal boxes, schoolbags, home-pregnancy tests, you name it. It was so sudden that it felt less like an overnight sensation and more like Saban and Levy had gone back and altered the timeline. And even now, I get it. I understand the appeal. Look at this footage.
Now, if you’ve never seen an episode of Power Rangers that probably looked like the nightmare visions of an opium fiend. But that constant repetition I talked about earlier meant that the creators could essentially create a kind of visual shorthand where the audience knows what’s happening even if they don’t see it in this particular episode. They know that the five zords arrive and form the Megazord even if they just see the Rangers waving their arms around and suddenly the Megazord is standing on the horizon. This gives the fight scenes a kind of demented, frantic energy that’s incredibly exciting.
So yeah, hands in the air, I was an absolute nut for this show, and when the inevitable movie came out I was in the front row. But unlike the series, the movie was an entirely American creation (well, it was filmed in Australia with mostly Australian actors outside of the returning cast) and none of that demented Japanese energy to draw on. How well did a wholly American Power Rangers fare on the big screen? Let’s take a look.
Okay, so after the obligatory Star Wars style text crawl setting up the premise (I promised a lot of people who care about me that I wouldn’t do another drinking game) the movie opens as almost every episode does, with the Power Rangers doing X (bake sale, organising a petition, giving martial arts lessons, donating bone-marrow, whatever) for charity in order to save Y (orphanage, the environment, some local historic landmark, pandas with leukaemia, whatever) .  The Power Rangers may in fact be the only superheroes that actually did more good in their civilian guises than as heroes (in fact, considering they spent most of their time stomping through a heavily populated city in mile high robots, this was probably the only way they could sleep at night). The original Rangers were goody-goody to the point where your teeth began to hurt watching them, something that even later series of the show poked fun at. For the movie X equals “sky-diving” (got a bigger budget, might as well use it) and Y equals “the local observatory”. Huh. You know, in a city that’s subjected to weekly alien attacks, an observatory sounds like the kind of thing the government really should be funding. Anyway, the rangers are on a plane getting ready to jump and they’re joined on this little plummet by Bulk and Skull, our comic relief. Bulk is a morbidly obese school bully and Skull is his 90 pound idiot lackey. Over the course of the series, these two bullied our ridiculously handsome, incredibly buff heroes who were adept at martial arts even before they had super powers. Yeah. Even as  a kid, this was one aspect of the show I never bought.
 Seems legit
“Huh. Seems legit."

“Huh. Seems legit.”

silly

“Oh, now thats just silly!"

“Oh, now that’s just silly!”

Alright, so Bulk and Skull are about to jump out of the plane when Kimberly (Amy Jo Jonson) says “Uh guys, you might want to put those on” and points to the parachutes with a cutesy poo little gesture and ha, ha, ha, ha, ha they almost died screaming and in terror. Bulk and Skull chicken out but the six rangers skydive, with Tommy on a frickin’ snowboard all while  the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Higher Ground plays. And that, children, is how the nineties began.
Actually, speaking about music, let’s talk about the soundtrack for a bit. If there was one element of the show that was undeniably, unironically, balls-to-the-wall awesome it was the music of Ron Wasserman. For the movie, Wasserman’s original theme tune Go, Go, Power Rangers! (already a most righteous hair metal anthem), is given an epic overhaul, becoming something so awesome it must have descended from Rock Valhalla carried on the golden wings of bodacious Valkyries. Listen to this.
It’s so epic, so ridiculously ornate, that it takes almost two minutes before we even get to the main chorus. I love this track. I adore this track. I love this track so much I actually had it played at my wedding reception. I’m not joking.
"He's not joking."

“He’s not joking.”

“I'm not joking."

“I’m not joking.”

"He's...not...joking."

“He’s. Not. Joking.”

The movie version is performed by “The Power Rangers Orchestra”, well known to be the most awesome and morphenomenal orchestra in the world. I can just picture the rehearsals.
“First violins! We need more power on those strings!”
“RIGHT!”
“Brass section! Combine trumpets with trombones for maximum volume!”
“RIGHT!”
“I can’t hear the percussion section! I call on the power of Titanus!”
"TITANUS PLAY TIMPANI! RAAAAR!"

“TITANUS PLAY TIMPANI! RAAAAR!”

Down on the ground there’s a crowd waiting for the skydivers to land and we learn that there’s a rush to repair the observatory because “Ryan’s comet” is going to pass by the earth in three days and Jesus these guys are cutting it close. I mean, with the time it’ll take to transfer the money raised to the observatory and then for the observatory to get estimates and hire contractors…tick tock, guys, tick tock. A kid called Fred Kaplan, who is a good friend of the rangers who we have never seen before and will never see again, tells his father…Mr Kaplan…

Seriously? They don’t even give him a first name? He’s actually a major character in the B plot and they couldn’t even be bothered to give him a first name? Well fine, I’ll just have to call him Mr Kaplan, which will be really weird. It feels like I’ve shown up at this character’s house to take his daughter to the big dance. Anyway, Fred tells his father to watch as the six rangers land so that he can see “how the pros do it.” Mr Kaplan (yes sir, I’ll have her back by eleven, I promise) protests that he didn’t do so bad on his jump and Fred says “You landed in the parking lot! It was embaressing!”
Alright stop. Track 45 left. Stop.  Enhance 15 to 23. Give me a hard copy right there.
I present to you, the most smackable face in the world.

I present to you, the most smackable face in the world.

Your father just jumped out of an airplane two frickin’ miles in the air, entrusting his life to a piece of fabric a millimetre thick for charity you little shit, show some respect. God DAMN this kid. The nineties were FULL of brats like this, growing up without the constant threat of nuclear annihilation made them cocky.

Not a problem we have to worry about anymore, thankfully.

Not a problem we have to worry about anymore, thankfully.

The rangers land and Fred runs up and congratulates Tommy who says that next time he should join them. And that is a great idea. After all. Skydiving is…perfectly safe. Yes. Bring the boy.

But Mr Kaplan (yes sir, I’m in college, but I just turned eighteen this year) says no, Fred can’t jump out of a plane and go hurtling towards the earth at terminal velocity. So why am I even watching this?  The Rangers then leave. On rollerblades. Because nineties.

Meanwhile, Bulk and Skull (who’ve finally gotten up the stones to jump out of the plane) land in a building site where some construction workers have just unearthed something rather odd.
Yeah, I prefered the old Kinder Eggs.

Yeah, I preferred the old Kinder Eggs.

The site foreman, who I’m guessing was picked because of his halfway convincing American accent, reaches out and touches the egg and instantly gets shocked. He collapses and lies on the ground twitching while the other builders crowd around him and say “John, you alright?” But then the movie cuts to more shots of the rangers rollerblading and we will never find out if John was alright. Did he recover and live a long and happy life, occasionally telling his grandkids about the time he was almost electrocuted by a purple Kinder Egg of evil? Did he die shortly after, afraid and panicked, never knowing what happened? Or did he recover, but paralysed and unable to work? Does he have a wife? Does he have children? How will they live? How will they survive?

Look! Rollerblading!

Look! Rollerblading!

Alright, so the rangers are summoned to the Command Centre where Alpha 5 tells them that there has been a surge of “evil energy” and all the instrumentation is going crazy.

"This plasma globe is showing readings Ive never seen and the lava lamps are OFF THE FUCKING CHARTS!"

“This plasma globe is showing readings I’ve never seen and the lava lamps are OFF THE FUCKING CHARTS!”

Zordon appears and tells the rangers that six thousand years ago, the world was ruled by a morphological being named Ivan Ooze who was building two machines called the Ectomorphicon Titans that would allow him to expand his empire and conquer the universe. So let me just clarify something. Six thousand years ago, an alien warlord conquered the entire world and ruled an intergalactic empire from this very planet. You know, that would have been pretty useful information to have, Egypt.

"Ohhhh shit. Sorry. Really sorry guys. Yeah, we meant to leave you a note on a tomb wall about that."

“Ohhhh shit. Sorry. Really sorry guys. Yeah, we meant to leave you a note on a tomb wall about that.”

No, no, no, it’s fine. It’s fine. Hey, at least you managed to leave us that story about what happened to Osiris’ dick. That was super important, you had your priorities, I understand, no really I do. Alright, so Zordon and his allies arrived on earth and after a huge epic battle with giant robots…

"Giant robots. Yeah. Yeah that happened. Sorry."

“Giant robots. Yeah. Yeah that happened. Sorry.”

…they were able to trap Ooze in an egg-shaped prison which they buried deep under ground, with the warning that if he was ever released he would wreck untold destruction upon the universe.

"Look. We dropped the ball. Simple as that."

“Look. We dropped the ball. Simple as that.”

Zordon tells the rangers that Ooze’s egg has been uncovered and they have to bury it again before he has a chance to escape. Meanwhile at the building site, the security guards who’ve been left to guard the egg have unexpected visitors.

Between fans of the original Super Sentai and Power Rangers there is bloody sectarian conflict passionate and lively debate over which series is better. One area though where it is more or less generally agreed that Power Rangers has the edge is in its recurring villains. As I already mentioned, the first series had Rita Repulsa as the main villain, who was simply footage of Super Sentai’s character Witch Bandora with English dialogue dubbed over her.
And somewhere, a young Lady Gaga was taking notes.

And somewhere, a young Lady Gaga was taking notes.

Even the kids watching this understood that Rita was kind of lame as a villain. She was more of a comedic foil, constantly throwing tantrums and complaining about her headaches and unable to make her dialogue match up to her lips. Throughout the first season, many fans wished for a villain that could provide a more genuine threat to the rangers. And boy howdy did we get one.
"Hello children. I heard you hadn't been having nightmares. I have come to rectify that situation."

HELLO!

Lord Zedd was introduced at the start of the season 2 as essentially Space Satan. The ruler of a vast empire of evil and looking like a skinned corpse with cyber implants and the voice of Christian Bale’s Batman, he banished Rita and took over as the Rangers arch-enemy. Zedd was such a sinister presence in fact that parents began to complain that the show had become too dark, so the creators quickly began making Zedd more comedic and less threatening. How did they do this? They married him off. Halfway through Season 2, Rita returns, basically slips Zedd a roofie, and the two get married (not joking).  So it’s at around this point in the series that the movie takes place. Zedd and Rita, (who are still married but well out of the honeymoon phase) and their two lackeys Goldar and Mordaunt, arrive to crack open the egg. Zedd zaps the two security guards (we will never know their fate) and releases Ivan Ooze.

ALL HANDS! BRACE FOR INCOMING HAM!

ALL HANDS! BRACE FOR INCOMING HAM!

"NYAAAAAAAA! ACTING!"

“NYAAAAAAAA! ACTING!”

Ooze is played by Paul Freeman, who has been working without interruption in the industry since 1967 but is probably best known for playing Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Freeman has been in front of the camera long enough to know that there are times to be serious, and times to have fun, and swanning around in a cape with a load of plastic purple dicks attached to your face is the latter. The man is having a ball here, taking bites out of the scenery and spitting them out while practically waggling his eyebrows at the audience. Most of the best lines in this thing are Ivan’s and by all accounts he ad-libbed a lot of them. For me, his performance is what pushes this thing from kiddie schlock into genuine campy entertainment. He’s really fun to watch.
So Zedd is all “Ohmigod Mr Ooze, HUGE fan!” and Ivan asks him how he can repay them for freeing them. Zedd tells him that Zordon is still on Earth and that if Ooze wanted to pay him a little visit that’d be just swell. Ooze promises to not only kill Zordon, but to destroy everything and everyone that even looks or smells like him. Zedd, while a physical manifestation of pure evil, is not a micromanager (honestly making him less evil than many of my former bosses) so he leaves Ivan to get down to business.
Ooze then takes a deep breath and hisses “What is that revolting stench? Smells like…teenagers.” On a completely unrelated topic, the six rangers then arrive to find that they’re too late and that the Ooze is looze. Okay, so I haven’t actually introduced the rangers properly. Three of the original Rangers had left the team by this point for trying to renegotiate their contracts to attend a peace summit in Switzerland so our current rangers in order of acting ability are:
  • Amy Jo Jonson playing  Kimberly the Pink Ranger. (Acts)
  • Johnny Yong Bosch playing Adam the Black Ranger (Sort of acts.)
  • David Yost playing Billy the Blue Ranger (Acts?)
  • Jason David Frank playing Tommy the White Ranger (Not really acting, you get the feeling he’s like this in real life. And that’s cool.)
  • Karan Ashley as Aisha the Yellow Ranger (Ohhhhh.)
  • Steve Cardenas as Rocky the Rend Ranger (Just. Just. Just. Just sit over there.)
Alright look, I don’t want to rag on the actors too much. Most of the Rangers, especially in the early seasons before CGI and wirework were available, were cast on their martial arts ability rather than their acting chops. Which makes sense, for a kid’s action show it’s really more important that the fight scenes look cool than that the Red Ranger is adept in the Meisner technique. Most of the early rangers had little or no acting experience and had to learn on the job. Jonson is far and away the strongest performer (and I’m not just saying that because I’m forever ensnared by her feminine wiles like every other nineties boy). Anyway, Ooze and the Rangers face off and are all “Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?” and Ivan creates an army of purple Goo Men to fight the rangers and then teleports away. The movie turns now to the subject of punching. Fair is fair, this is actually a really cool fight scene. I mean, the choreography is nothing spectacular but all six actors are actually doing all those flips and kicks and there’s almost no CGI or wirework here. Also, the soundtrack once again punches above the movie’s weight with the fight being scored to Devo’s Are You Ready?!
Alright, so the rangers are outmatched so they decide that it’s morphing time and transform into their ranger costumes. This involves each ranger pulling out their morpher, shouting the name of their spirit dinosaur/archosaur/ice age mammal and then doing an elaborate interpretive dance. It takes so long that by the time they’re finished the Goo Men have wandered off.
"Huh. I guess this is why Zordon keeps telling us not to milk the transformations."

“Huh. I guess this is why Zordon keeps telling us not to milk the transformations.”

Meanwhile Ooze slimes his way into the command centre to confront Zordon. He rants about all the things that he’s missed by being locked away in the egg, the Brady Bunch Reunion, the Black Death and the Spanish Inquisition. Wait a minute, how does he know about the Spanish Inquisition if he’s been locked away in the egg? Did he go down to the local library on his way here and skim a history book? Or did he just know it was going to happen six thousand years ago?  Did he expect the Spanish Inquisition?

Ahem.

I said, did he EXPECT THE SPANISH INQUISITION?

The door

DID HE EXPECT THE SPANISH…oh forget it, moving on.

"Hurry! Hurry!"

“Hurry! Hurry!”

Ivan then starts wrecking the command centre, blowing up consoles, breaking the plasma globes and even smashing the lava lamps, the uncouth bastard.

The ranger arrive back to find the command centre destroyed and Zordon out of his bowl and dying like a goldfish. Zordon weakly tells them that “the power” has been destroyed and with it all the rangers’ costumes, weapons, Zords, the entire merchandising wing of the operation it’s all kaput. Kimberly begs him not to leave them and he tells them that they must be strong. You know, not strong in the sense of having superpowers and being strong but, y’know, in here.
Right in the spleen.

Right in the spleen.

Anyway, Alpha tells them that there may be another power that can save Zordon but wouldn’t you know it? It’s on the distant planet Phaedos and everyone who’s ever gone after it has died. The rangers decide to go anyway and Tommy says “We may not have our powers, but we’re still the power rangers!”
No.
No, I’m pretty sure the powers are a deal-breaker on that one Tommy. Sorry. It’s called “Power Rangers”, not “Self Belief Rangers.”
The rangers teleport out and Zedd and Rita watch them go from their lunar fortress. Ooze comes swanning in and Rita reads him the riot act for letting the rangers escape. Ivan announces that he’s taking over and traps Rita and Zedd in a snowglobe. And you know a villain is serious business when he uses the same tactics as the Other Mother. Goldar and Mordaunt quickly switch sides and declare loyalty to Ooze and they ask Ivan what he’s going to do about the rangers. He hocks up a loogie which transforms into an army of crow men (‘kay) and he orders them to fly to Phaedos and kill the rangers. They take off. Flying through space. On their wings.
This movie is sometimes so surreal it borders on the eerily beautiful.
Anyway the Rangers arrive on Phaedos and begin searching for the great power, all the while watched by a mysterious hooded figure. The bird men (or “Tengoo warriors” as they’re called) swoop in and attack them and the rangers get their asses handed to them until the hooded figure joins the fray. Okay, there’s a kind of Star Wars fan who thinks that the original trilogy is pretty good but that everything that comes before Leia in the gold bikini is just pointless filler.  Power Rangers poses a fascinating question. What if, in the scene where Obia Wan Kenobi saves Luke from the Sand People, he throws off the hood and is actually…Leia in the gold bikini. Like, what if we just go to the reason why we’re all here and saved everyone three hours? I give you, Dulcea.
Which of course is Italian for "Yowza!"

Which, of course, is Italian for “Yowza!”

Dulcea drives the Tengoo warriors off like t’ain’t nothin’ and proceeds to kick the crap out of Tommy for daring to speak words to her. See, Dulcea is the guardian of the power and is getting real sick of having to clean up the corpses of everyone who’s come to claim it and tells the kids to screw off. But the rangers tell her that they need the power to save Zordon and Dulcea says that that’s a ranger of a different colour and tells them to follow her.

Back on Earth, Ivan is putting his evil plan into motion, disguising himself as a friendly wizard and giving out jars of his ooze to the children of Angel Grove and oh my God, oh my God, oh my God what did I just type? Fred is clearly suspicious of Ooze, which is good, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s making this face:

This face

Oh that is IT! TYRION!

"What is it, my hirsute little friend?"

“What is it, my hirsute little friend?”

I need you to smack this kid in the face!

"Im afraid I must decline."

“I’m afraid I must decline.”

What?!  But you owe me! And a Lannister always pays his debts!

"Ah, but you see, Im not really a Lannister. It turns out Im a lost Targaryan prince who... "

“Ah, but you see, I’m not really a Lannister. It turns out I’m a lost Targaryen prince who… “

ALALALALALALALALASPOILERS!!!!

Alright, so Dulcea has taken the rangers to an abandoned temple and shows them the way to the great power. To help them, she shows them how to get in touch with their animal spirits, with Tommy being the Falcon, Billy the wolf, Aisha the bear, Kimberly the crane, Rocky the ape and poor Adam getting stuck with the fucking Frog. I mean, how ridiculous is that?

"Jealous?"

“Jealous?”

"WHY DOES NO ONE EVER WANT ME AS A SPIRIT ANIMAL?!"

“WHY DOES NO ONE EVER WANT ME AS A SPIRIT ANIMAL?!”

Well you know what? I don’t even want to be part of their stupid quest. Honestly, this quest is stupid. It’s probably my least favorite part of the movie. The quest is basically this; they wander in the forest and find some giant dinosaur skeletons and fight them and beat them. Then they get attacked by rhino men made of rock and then they beat them too. And then they get the great power. That’s it. I have a couple of problems with this. Firstly, they got the order ass backwards, the dinosaur skeleton battle is much more visually impressive and should have been saved for last. Second, any good quest should have at least three challenges. Third, no one else has ever made it to the great power alive? Seriously? Six unarmed human teenagers (I don’t care what martial arts training they have, they have no damn weapons) were able to do this and no one else, no alien monster, no all-powerful Emperor of Evil, no army of trained soldiers in the galaxy was able to get there first? Fourth, how exactly are these trials supposed to stop the power getting into the wrong hands? It’s all just mindless combat. If there had been one trial to test their martial prowess, and then one to test their intelligence and then maybe an old knight with a load a of cups to test their faith that would make much more sense. And lastly, and the one that bugged me so badly as a kid that it almost drove me crazy, when they finally get the great power the six animal spirits merge with them and they become power rangers again…but they still have their old costumes with the dinosaur helmets. Why don’t they have new helmets to reflect their new spirit animals? Yeah, I know, because for the series they need to be able to match up with the old Sentai footage but goddamn it irritated me as a kid.

“KILLLLLLL!!!"

“KILLLLLLL!!!”

Meanwhile, back on earth, all of the parents of Angel Grove have been mentally enslaved by Ivan’s ooze and he’s put them to work excavating and rebuilding the Ectomorphicons. Fred tracks his father to the construction site and tries to get Mr Kaplan (no sir, I don’t have designs on your daughter, I swear, I’m actually gay) to snap out of it but fails. With the machines complete, Ivan orders the brainwashed adults to head for the nearest cliff and leap to their doom and they trudge off. Ivan then fires up the machines and we get our first look at the terrifying mechanical monsters that once threatened the entire universe and HAHAHAHAHAHA OH MY GOD!

CGI

1351820995_1163_playstation-logo

Actually no, you know what? That is completely unfair to the PlayStation.

Christ Im old.

That’s more like it.

Christ I’m old.

"Two...uh.. Three for the Unshaved Mouse, please."

“Two…uh.. Three for the Unshaved Mouse, please.”

Anyway, the Rangers arrive back to find the Ectomorphicons wrecking unbelievable destruction on Angel Grove. By which I mean, it’s impossible to believe this destruction, the CGI is just so bad you can’t suspend disbelief long enough to believe that it’s happening. Also, while I don’t want to nit pick here (I have a professional nit for that) these things are only a couple of stories tall. In the series, the monsters were typically taller than skyscrapers, which kind of makes it a little hard to take these bozos seriously as a threat. Anyway, the rangers call on their Zords and oh Christ in heaven look at these things…
"But all the other movies were using CGI!" "And if all the other movies jumped off a bridge, Power Rangers, would you do that too?"

“But all the other movies were using CGI!”
“And if all the other movies jumped off a bridge, Power Rangers, would you do that too?”

The Zords and the Ectomorphicons duke it out (hilariously, the Frog Zord is pretty much the only one worth a damn).  Meanwhile Fred rallies the  kids of Angel Grove (who’ve gone all Lord of the Flies) along with Bulk and Skull who were just hanging around with all these children not creepy at all and they stop the parents of Angel Grove from plunging to their deaths like lemmings in an early Disney documentary. The Rangers combine their Zords to form the Megazord and BWAHAHAHAHA!
Oh boy, I think I owe the Foodfight! animators an apology. I mean, I’m not going to give them one, but still.

Oh boy, I think I owe the Foodfight! animators an apology. I mean, I’m not going to give them one, but still.

The Rangers destroy one of the Ectomorphicons and a furious Ivan Ooze merges with the remaining one and OH SWEET MERCIFUL LION OF JUDAH!
KILL IT WITH FIRE! KILL IT WITH FIRE!

KILL IT WITH FIRE! KILL IT WITH FIRE!

The Megazord tussles with this, the most terrifying use of special effects technology since John Carpenter’s frickin’ Thing, and the rangers hit on  a plan: to fly Ivan Ooze into the path of Ryan’s comet. You’ll remember, of course, that the fact that the comet was passing by earth was established earlier in the movie to foreshadow this resolution.
Writing.

Writing.

They fly Ivan into the path of the comet but he refuses to let go so they press the emergency button that allows the Megazord to kick Ivan in the nads. Not even joking.
They won. But at what cost to their souls?

They won. But at what cost to their souls?

The comet destroys Ivan and the Rangers return home. Zordon is saved and Angel Grove throws a big citywide party to thank the Rangers. The six Power Rangers congratulate Fred on saving the parents and say that one day he could be a Power Ranger too.
"Fred is supposed to be me, right? He’s the one I’m supposed to identify with?"

“Fred is supposed to be me, right? He’s the one I’m supposed to identify with?”

"Yeah."

“Yeah.”

"How fucking dare they?"

“How fucking dare they?”

And so the movie ends with the Rangers watching fireworks light up the Sydney Angel Grove sky and the credits roll.
"Nobody expects the Spanish..."

“Nobody expects the Spanish…”

"Oh bugger."

“Oh bugger.”

***
Power Ranger is a bad movie but it is very safely in “Fun Bad” territory. It hits the sweet spot of being bad enough to have fun riffing on while still being made with enough competence that it’s not a chore to sit through. It’s never boring, it has a fun villain, the soundtrack is surprisingly kick-ass, it relies mostly on practical effects (that last fight scene notwithstanding) and it feels like everyone had fun making it. There are movies being made today with literally fifteen times the budget of this thing that can’t even manage that. If you’re looking for a good nostalgia sugar high, you could do a whole lot worse.
Scoring:
Animation: N/A
Hard to tell from the plot description, I know, but this is not in fact a cartoon.
Leads: 7/20
These people were hired to punch. You want acting? Call Vanessa Redgrave.
Villains: 14/20
In case I haven’t made it clear, I really dig Paul Freeman’s portrayal of Ivan Ooze. The new costume for Lord Zedd is also a major step up.
Supporting Characters: 05/20
Soooo…there is literally no one in Australia who can hold a convincing American accent for more than five seconds?
Music: 17/20
*throws up the horns and starts head banging to Go! Go! Power Rangers!*
*pulls muscle in little mouse neck*
*feels sad*
FINAL SCORE: 54%
BABY MOUSE’S SCORE: \infty%
NEXT UPDATE: 17 July 2014
NEXT TIME: We return to the canon with the movie that was meant to be the rebirth of traditional animation and everyone wants to know one thing:
Does Mouse love Princess and the Frog, or is he a racist?
Neil Sharpson aka The Unshaved Mouse is a playwright, blogger and comic book writer living in Dublin. The blog updates with a new animated movie review every second Thursday. He’s also serialising his novel The Hangman’s Daughter with a new chapter every other Thursday. This was review was made possible by the kind donation of Darragh O’Bradáin. Thanks Darragh!

64 comments

  1. I am surprised you missed the worst rescue attempt in history. During the quest scene Rocky jumps to Adam’s rescue… misses entirely and falls off a cliff. Poor frog powered Adam now has to save the ape. In Rocky’s defense in the zorg battle he was the only one who could go toe to toe with a villainous bug zord.
    “Does Mouse love Princess and the Frog, or is he a racist?” I have a hunch that Mouse adores it.

    1. There was a ten second sequence that I didn’t reference in my review of an almost two hour long movie? I’m getting old. You and your hunches. It’s bad for your back.

  2. Does the mouse need a neck rub?

    Mighty Morphin Power Rangers home pregnancy tests? Um, no just doesn’t cut it. How about, “You ever do and I’ll shove this thing in a hole it doesn’t fit.

    Oh, and guilty of clicking the link at the beginning. I feel bad for myself now.

  3. To be fair, no one in America can hold a convincing Australian accent for five seconds either. (Looking at you, Pacific Rim.)

  4. Good review, Mouse. I agree this movie is stupid, but it’s hardly the worse thing out there. You want to see Power Rangers at its worst? Try watching Power Rangers Samurai and Power Rangers Megaforce (and their “super” seasons, Super Samurai and Super Megaforce), although Super Megaforce still has yet to finish airing. After seeing those seasons, you’ll be begging to see Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and/or this movie again.

    If you want to see some Power Rangers seasons that are better (or in your case, maybe, “less bad” or “less painful”), try watching In Space, Lost Galaxy, Time Force, and Dino Thunder.

    I know you probably won’t watch any more Power Rangers, but I’ll throw it out there anyway.

    By the way, if you dislike Tommy, then Dino Thunder isn’t for you in particular, because he’s in it.

      1. Okay, the one thing that Megaforce/Super Megaforce has going for is the legendary ranger powers that they can unlock and use (even though it’s not unlocked until Super Megaforce) and the upcoming episode where all the Power Rangers in history come together to fight the bad guys. And I will give props that the premise is kinda neat. Back to a high school setting for instance? That’s cool with me.

        But aside from that, I still put it in the “bad” column. It just seems… dull. Not as bad as Samurai, but still dull. For example, the only interesting villains so far are Creepox and Metal Alice (spoilers, they’re deceased) and Vrak (MIA). Yes, Rita is a bad villain, but she is SORT OF entertaining to watch. And Lord Zedd started out great before they made him a joke. Unlike *shudders* Prince Vekar, THE worst villain thus far on Power Rangers. Not threatening, not entertaining, afraid of even just a little scratch, and a great big crybaby. And this is the guy who’s the leader of a giant Armada who can take out the Earth? Give me a break. At least Rita, the bad villain that she is, has a bit more dignity, even though it’s not very much, and she is only in charge of a very small group.

        The only interesting ranger really is Jake, followed by Gia (maybe Orion, but we have to see where he goes). Robo Knight also made some decent progress. The rest, though, just seem boring. To me, the MMPR Rangers are a little more interesting to watch.

        The jokes and puns Megaforce (and Samurai) throw out are just cringing to listen to. Yeah, I know this is Power Rangers, and it’s supposed to be cheesy and corny and all, but they are just overkill. At least MMPR (and all the other season for that matter) didn’t have so many of them.

        I knew I’d get called out for not recommending RPM. Well, the reason I didn’t put RPM on there is because I’ve only watched the first six episodes. I’d have to watch the rest in order to give it a recommendation. I have heard good things about it, though. And it does look good.

    1. I…no, Super/Megaforce isn’t worse than MMPR. Like…no.
      Samurai? Yeah that’s horrible. Worst season ever. Also how the hell could you NOT recommend RPM? That’s generally considered to be the best season…

  5. OK, so before I really get into the review proper, I have one question. Were the actual Power Rangers part of the Japanese show, or was that filmed with the American cast? Meaning, was the footage of the costumed power rangers beating up regular sized monsters part of the Japanese show, or part of the new footage?

    1. Both. The American crew had access to the costumes for the Rangers and Monsters so they were able to film their own fight scenes on ground level. They didn’t have the Zords or city sets though so the Zord battles were exclusively Japanese.

  6. Nice Review Mouse! I never watched Power Rangers, but (unlike Transformers) I knew a lot of things about it because EVERY KID IN MY SCHOOL LOVED IT. I REALLY want to know your opinion about The Princess and the Frog! 😀

  7. OK, now that I’ve read the review, I would like to point out once again that Johnny Yong Bosch is a PHENOMENAL voice actor. I haven’t really seen much of Power Rangers so I can’t really speak for his acting ability in the show, but he has seriously done some amazing work as a voice actor, particularly as Vash the Stampede in Trigun and Kiba in Wolf’s Rain.

    I remember Power Rangers less for myself watching it and more for one of my younger sister’s friends being a huge fan. For some reason when I think Power Rangers the first thing I think of is my sister’s friend and all the Power Rangers toys he had. And he was born like 7 years after the show premiered. I remember always liking the show when it was one but never watching it on a regular basis. I totally remember the robot though, for some reason I vividly remember Alpha 4 and Alpha 5. And really weird thing that I just now found out, Alpha 4 and 5 were both voiced by Richard Horvitz, who also voiced the lead character in the game Psychonauts (which I JUST started playing yesterday), and was in the 80’s movie Summer School (which is dumb, but I love). And the reason I know so much about him? I am a sort of acquaintance of his son. So that’s fun.

    Great job Mouse, can’t wait for your PatF review. And even though I haven’t been commenting much on them, I’m really enjoying The Hangman’s Daughter so far, can’t wait to read more of that too

      1. I am internet acquainted with him and we have a few mutual friends IRL (he went to a high school near mine, though I think he started high school after I had already graduated)

      2. Oh and hell yes I’ll mention Wolf’s Rain. One of my all time favorite shows. The last three or four episodes made me cry harder than I’ve ever cried at a TV show or movie.

    1. Oh thanks for reading Hangman! Honestly the reason I put Bosch ahead of Yost was that I was aware he’d had success as a voice actor but if I’m being honest Yost does better work in this.

  8. Is it really a bad/racist thing if the actors wore the same colored costumes as their ethnicity, even if it wasn’t done serendipitously? I mean, I’m a brown guy and I wouldn’t mind wearing a brown suit in a TV show. I just feel people get too worked up over this aspect of the Power Rangers.

    Anyway, nice review!

    1. Well (and here the ignorant white guy paused before making an ignorant tit of himself) it’s kinda complicated. If it had been just Zack as the black Ranger that might have been okay. Claiming the word and the colour is something that African Americans have traditionally done and characters like Black Panther are usually seen as being very progressive. Making the yellow ranger Asian though? No. I don’t think any Asian would proudly refer to themselves as “yellow”, and it has a rather nasty flavour of WW2 era propaganda to it. Plus, it kinda puts them both in a box. Billy is the smart Ranger, Jason is the tough leader, Kimberly is the valley girl and Zack and Trini are…black and Asian.

      1. I heard Zack was going to be the blue ranger, but the actor insisted that he would be the black ranger, because he was proud of his melanin color. I am pretty sure I heard that on both Wikipedia nad the Power Ranger wiki. I do not know any story on why an Asian is yellow ranger.

      2. If I were to take a guess at why the Asian actor is playing the yellow ranger:

        At some point in the mid- to late ’90s, the colors yellow and green (previously used as gender-neutral colors for baby gear) began getting genderized, with yellow for girls and green for boys. The Powers That Be knew that they had to have a Second Girl Character besides the obligatory pink ranger so Second Girl Character was, by default, assigned the color yellow. Then casting happened. Maybe TPTB caught it but thought nobody would notice or maybe they themselves didn’t even notice.

        (As for me, I’m rather ashamed I didn’t even notice the racial overtones. I was too preoccupied by my rage that the pink ranger was the only girl to get a skirt with her costume. “C’mon, we already know that she’s the girly one! She doesn’t need to have a pink outfit AND the only outfit with a skirt too! How come the yellow ranger doesn’t get a skirt — because she’s only the Second Female Character?! That’s crap! Either give them both skirts or nobody gets skirts!” Ah, childhood.)

  9. I liked this movie when I was a child, then again when I saw it in high school, and now have it on my to-do list as a recent-ish college grad. Thank you for reminding me that it exists.

    Curse you for reminding me about Amy Jo Jonson.

  10. Oh Power Rangers, your ridiculous insanity is so endearing. And you’re right about the show bringing in both girl and boy fans. I was a huge fan (Still am, to a degree), I had a Power Rangers quilt and a toy of the Falcon Zord from this very movie. This movie is fun in that it somehow manages to be even more insane than the main show, mainly because of Ivan Ooze and the crappy CGI.
    Also, I loved the Spanish Inquisition joke. Nice spin on an old classic.

  11. Lol our neighborhood was OBSESSED with Power Rangers and this movie. The kids next door would call my sister and me over for the afternoons during the summer and slip this in the late 90’s ancestor of the VCD player. Ah, memories.

  12. The plot of this story is so bizarre I thought for years I’d made it up!
    Maybe the Egyptians left a message on one of the tombs that was flooded when the dam was made? 🙂
    Also yay! Monty python!

      1. Well, hey now, there were other cultures around 6000 years ago besides Egypt. There were the Hittites and the, um, the Assyrians and . . . . err . . .

        Yeah, shame on you, Egypt! You totally dropped the ball there!

    1. Actually I destroyed their warnings. More likely the archeologists dimissed it as nonsense considering the civilians in Power Rangers are constantly witnessing alien invasions and monster attacks, yet saying there is no such thing as power rangers, monsters, and aliens. I guess the whole universe has long term memory loss.

  13. “The six Power Rangers say that, one day, Fred could be a Power Ranger too”

    Wow. I guess that explains Turbo’s blue ranger.

    I’ve never actually seen this movie, despite being always been a big Power Rangers fan…then again, I couldn’t follow MMPR’s storyline as a kid. Perhaps there was a reason Zyuranger had way less episodes than it.

    Ah yeah, I’m so glad that Lionsgate reboot is happening now (STAY AWAY, SABAN!). The concept has SO much potential it begs the question: Why didn’t Disney just make a film series (or even an animated series) when they still had the rights? They really had no idea what to do with the property back then…

    Oh, speaking of Disney properties…Neil, have you seen Maleficent? I thought it was…alright, but…I was left a little confused. Not sure if it was because the 3D couldn’t let me see shit or because Maleficent’s leather pants were genuinely confusing.

      1. I’d be really interested in what you think about Maleficent. I remember your thoughts on the trailer. I haven’t seen it yet either, a part of me responds badly to being asked to change my view on a character I happily hated for years. On the other hand, maybe that means seeing it would be good for me!

  14. @ Mauricio, No Turbo’s Blue Ranger was Justin and was a different actor. Also I liked Maleficent maybe I just wasn’t paying so much attention to CGI but it didn’t really bother me. The only real problems I had were the Fairies were annoying as fuck and the prince seemed really unnecessary and uninteresting. Then again I suppose the Angie was *supposed* to be the main focus of the movie… I honestly kind of sudder thinking of the Cinderella Remake, but I honestly kind of liked the 90’s LA Jungle Book. And I think if they combine the first one and the sequel and just take out lame ineffective villains and make the whole movie be about Mowgli as a child and an adult it can honestly be pretty good.

  15. You had me at “Pandas with Leukaemia” 🙂 I like how the message is that it’s ok to give someone roofies if they are evil haha that seems to happen in a few shows. Special mention for the plastic purple dicks comment… awesome, I wonder if he felt ripped off when he went all mega and only ended up with one big goldish one on his chin?
    Props for the Shakespeare reference 😀
    Reading this made me Google Jamie Croft (AKA that Fred kid) because I remember him being big in Oz as a child actor and I don’t remember ever hearing about him later on. Turns out he never stopped acting (who knew) and is now married to Saskia Burmeister who is an awesome Oz actress known best for Hating Allison Ashley when she was younger, she never made it big overseas, but we still like her and her 1000 watt smile 😀

  16. Tengu= Japanese Man/Crow demons. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tengu). I never watched Power Rangers (xenophobic pater forbade all Asian influenced television because it was either too violent or pornographic…… o.O) so i dont know if “Tengoo” was the official spelling. But that’s where it came from anyway. 🙂

  17. I think that fish fetish joke made me smile way more than it should have. Liked the Batman reference as well. Though I’ve got to wonder why you didn’t just scare Baby Mouse away with Live Action-Hating cat. Sounds as if you could’ve averted this whole mess with ease. Or did you not feel like siccing another natural predator on somebody again?

    Hmm, that reference to the denial of a drinking game makes me think: any reason you could so much more easily write this fond childhood memory off as kind of cheap, lame and sort of racially insensitive while even the thought of the Jungle Book facing similar accusations couldn’t be faced without heavy liquor consumption? I mean, I guess a good Disney movie is less easy to think or speak ill of than a tacky cash grab franchise, but still, interesting kid Mouse put up far less of a fight here.

  18. Hey, wait a minute, 90s child here. You implying I’m cocky? I’ll have you know I am gandery! Very big difference! Though that Oxyrhynchus fish reference was awesome. I’m curious about the casting decision of this thing. If the show started by using Japanese footage of the suited martial artists alongside American footage of the talking actors, why not just have suited stunt doubles do all the martial arts coolness and have the good actors do all the face shots and have it best of both worlds? Weird choice if you ask me.

    Laugh all you will, Maurice, but you’ve still been denied a part of the Zodiac roster by the Chinese. Mouse got first place in that, so joke’s on you, Monsieur! Though I guess your kind gets to star in the next movie. And the mice get at least 3, ha ha!

    1. Well actually a lot of the martial arts stuff was done by the actors out of costume (when they were fighting henchmen and what not) so it really made more sense to hire martial artists who could sort of act than actors who could sort of do martial arts.

  19. “That list of the 25 most punchable Disney sidekicks took a lot longer than I thought.”

    Okay, I have looked all through the site for this list, and I can’t find it anywhere. If you really never did it, do it now. It is a thing that must exist.

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