Jason David Frank - Tommy
Amy Jo Johnson - Kimberly
David Yost - Billy
Johnny Yong Bosch - Adam
Karan Ashley - Aiesha
Steve Cardenas - Rocky
Paul Freeman - Ivan Ooze
Gabrielle Fitzpatrick - Dulcea
Jamie Croft - Fred Kelmen
Genre - Action/Fantasy/Children
Running Time - 95 Minutes
Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4
Let me just get this out of the way: I was a huge Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers fan. HUGE. Recorded all the shows until the end of Power Rangers: Zeo. Played the video games. Had actual three hour conversations with people I knew who watched the Power Rangers over the dumbest of things. My love for Amy Jo Johnson, who played the original Pink Ranger, rivaled that of Heather Locklear and Pamela Anderson at the time. This stupid show had a hold on my soul and wouldn't let go until I saw that crappy TURBO: A POWER RANGER MOVIE and said enough was enough [even though I did see some of Power Rangers In Space and Power Rangers: Dino Thunder].
It wasn't supposed to be this way. I never saw the show from the beginning, avoiding it as long as possible. That is until my cousins stayed over for a week and forced me to watch that "Green With Evil" miniseries that debuted Tommy, The Green Ranger. The whole show was so ridiculous that I couldn't stop watching, hooking me for years. I even got other people to watch it, which shows that a lot of us were addicted to this pop culture phenomenon that none of us can really explain how it came to be. I mean, the show was silly.
For example, why is the owner of a health fruit and juice bar so obese?
Why didn't the monsters kill the Power Rangers in mid-morph?
How much money was actually in Angel Grove's trust that they were able to reconstruct their city after multiple monster battles that knocked down paper-thin buildings?
Why did Rita Repulsa always throw her staff in the same exact spot on Earth to make her monsters grow?
It boggles the mind at how many children and teenagers bought into this illogical stuff. Yes, the mid-1990s were a weird time indeed. To be young again...sigh.
Since then, I erased all those Power Ranger episodes [something I regret every once in a while] and pretty much wish they stopped making those new Ranger seasons that get dumber and dumber by the year. Hell, this review you're reading shouldn't even be existing. But thanks to a blog written by my buddy Siko/Mike where he admitted his love for the Power Rangers back in the day, it created another thing we had in common. I kind of joked around about reviewing the original MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE, but Mike really wanted to see me review it. I figured that I still have the film on VHS and they even give it alot on those Encore channels. So why not? It'll make me look like a dork but at least I can be honest and show another aspect of my personality.
So I watched the film this weekend again for the first time in years. It's not as good as I remember it to be but it's still a fun film to watch and a definitely guilty pleasure of mine.
While Tommy (Jason David Frank), Kimberly (Amy Jo Johnson), Billy (David Yost), Adam (Johnny Yong Bosch), Aiesha (Karan Ashley), and Rocky (Steve Cardenas) have fun skydiving, roller-blading, and practicing their hand gestures on each other [hmmm...], a group of construction workers uncover some statue of a claw holding a purple egg. Later that night, Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd approach the egg and hatch it. This act brings out some evil intergalactic bastard named Ivan Ooze (Paul Freeman), who was supposedly trapped for 6000 years. Ooze decides to have fun to celebrate his freedom, going straight to the Command Center to incapacitate the annoying Alpha-5 and destroy Zordon, who mentors the Power Rangers. With Zordon dying, the Power Rangers have no more powers. Zordon and Alpha-5 sends the Rangers to some planet named Phaedos to find the lost powers of the Ninjetti, which releases a person's animal spirit into battle. With their new powers intact, the Rangers must do battle with Ivan Ooze and his minions.
MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE was a pretty big hit when it was released back in 1995, which was the peak of the Rangers' phenomena. It pretty much takes the show and gives it an actual budget, using CGI to create much more animated Zords, monsters, and new abilities for the Rangers to use. The film doesn't really follow the show's timeline [this whole movie would be redone during the third season's premiere in an even more ridiculous way if that's even possible] but it gave fans a whole other look at what the producers of the Power Rangers would be capable of if they had actual money to spend on things other than footage from the Japanese show it was based on, Kyôryû sentai Juurenjâ. It kind of takes away what made the show so appealing in the first place [the cheapness of it all], but it's still a stupid and silly kid's film that could be enjoyed by the entire family.
The story isn't anything special. It's pretty much a standard Power Rangers episode but three times its length. The characters aren't given any depth other than that they always wear the color of their Ranger's uniform. The villains are the Kings and Queens of the one-liner. Especially that Ivan Ooze - ooh he's so funny. NOT! But hey, this film is made for younger viewers. They're not gonna care about character development and well-timed jokes. They eat this shit up on a daily basis just to drive their parents insane. It's human nature. So in that sense, it succeeds in what it has to do. Sometimes you don't want to think when you're watching a film. This movie couldn't be any more perfect.
I do think the CGI is pretty funny to watch after 13 years. Even back in 1995, the last battle sequence looked so fake. But now? Wow, it really shows it's age. Everything is shiny and uses CGI that's better used for those horrible made-for-TV Sci-Fi Channel premieres every Saturday Night. I couldn't stop laughing at how bad it looked. Yeah, the same battle sequences on the TV show were pretty primitive as well but at least the Zords looked sort of real in a way that it wasn't too hard to believe. But this was just over-the-top. And why CGI and not actually Japanese footage to maintain the show's appeal? One word: merchandising. And believe me, Saban Entertainment [who produced this franchise back in the day] became filthy rich because of it. For those who complain about CGI in modern films, look at this movie. I think you'll take most of it back. At least the new armored costumes were nice though.
The action sequences are pretty much the same as the TV show but with better choreography and more wire-work. I mean, when a villain goes down, he doesn't just fall. He has to spin like a hundred times into a wall before falling. It never stops making me laugh. But the actors who play the Power Rangers are really talented gymnasts and martial artists. They're totally believable in their movements and battle scenes. Hell, I couldn't do 75 percent of these guys and girls can do. So while the fights are silly, they're still pretty cool to watch after all these years.
The direction by Bryan Spicer, who would do some directorial work on some TV shows, is adequate enough for this franchise. The pacing is tight, the sequences are handled with a lot of energy, nice transitional styles and edits. The cinematography was absolutely stunning, especially on Phaedos. Just a nice looking picture. I'm not looking for something that's gonna win an Academy Award. As long as it tells the story pretty well visually, I'm gonna dig it. And I dig watching this film.
The acting - well, the Power Rangers aren't known for its acting. A lot of it is pretty bad, but that's pretty much what makes the franchise so charming and addictive to begin with. Of the Rangers themselves, Jason David Frank, Amy Jo Johnson, David Yost, and Johnny Yong Bosch are the highlights. Frank is probably the coolest and most popular Power Ranger ever as Tommy, and he has a likability about him that's charming and appealing. He makes a good leader too. Amy Jo Johnson is cute as Kimberly, and she would pretty much become one of the more successful Power Rangers by starring on Felicity and other shows, as well as having a pretty decently successful singing career. David Yost is perfect as the nerdy Billy, as he has the ability to deliver his lines and kick ass believably. I still won't forgive him for that fish episode in season one though. And he had to get the wolf ability in this film too. No fair. Johnny Yong Bosch was the best of all the Rangers, as he actually has a personality I can relate with. He's sarcastically funny and a great martial artist. Hell, he's the only person in the cast who did all of his stunts - in and out of uniform. Kudos. He's done some voice work for video games, recently as Nero for Devil May Cry 4. Nice to see him still doing stuff.
For Ivan Ooze, Paul Freeman was too hammy for me. Yeah, kids love this stuff, but his one-liners were so bad that I groaned after each one. But at least he doesn't take the whole thing seriously and seems to be enjoying himself in a really stupid role. So it works for the most part. And I liked Australian model Gabrielle Fitzgerald as Dulcea, the Amazonian warrior on Phaedos. Uber-hot and she actually has the ability to act! In a Power Rangers film? That's unheard of! But seriously, I liked her a lot and wished she was in the film more. Trivia: Marigska Hargitay was supposed to be this role by the producers replaced her with Fitzgerald. Too bad - I always wanted to know what Power Rangers: Special Victims Unit would have looked like.
My final beef with the film - the sidekicks to Rita, Zedd, and Ivan Ooze. Only Goldar transitioned from television to film. Where's Baboo? Finster? Squat? They replaced those three with some pig dude named Mordant. And he did - absolutely nothing. Well he did say corny jokes, but that was it. At least Goldar got to fly away during the end. And what was up with his costume? He looked LESS detailed than the television version. Not cool at all. Ay yi yi yi yi!
THE FINAL HOWL
MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE is still a guilty pleasure after all these years. It's stupid. It's ridiculous. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense most of the time. But that's just the way some of us Power Rangers fans like it. The CGI kind of ruins the film for me and the villain wasn't as strong as some Power Ranger villains on the television show, but it's still a fun watch from beginning to end. It won't appeal to everyone and I'm sure some people reading this dislike the Power Rangers and this film. And that's fine. But sometimes I just like to feel young again and this film hits the spot. Go go Power Rangers!