Jason David Frank - Tommy
Catherine Sutherland - Kat
Nakia Burrise - Tanya
Blake Foster - Justin
Johnny Yong Bosch - Adam
Hilary Shepard Turner - Divatox
Jon Simanton - Lerigot
Amy Jo Johnson - Kimberly
Austin St. John - Jason
Jason Narvy - Skull
Paul Schrier - Bulk
Steve Cardenas - Rocky
Genre - Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Family
Running Time - 96 Minutes
Like I mentioned in my earlier review for MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE, I used to be a huge fan of this particular 90s fad. The stupidity and silliness of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers grabbed me when my two cousins showed me the first season's "Green With Evil" mini-series that introduced Tommy Oliver, probably the most popular Power Ranger ever. For four years [three seasons of MMPR, a short stint with Mighty Morphin' Alien Rangers, and Power Rangers: Zeo], I stuck by this franchise through its ups and downs. As long as I got my half hour of watching teenagers, who looked thirty, calling for giant robots [called Zords] to fight off giant monsters each weekday, I was pretty satisfied.
However, things changed for me in 1997. While Power Rangers: Zeo took a while to really get going [I think the last half of the show was pretty damn good with the Gold Ranger stuff], I still stuck with the franchise - even though the phenomenon that came with it had pretty much died and ratings were rapidly declining. Then TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE was released in theaters. Not really a sequel to the previous film and more of an introduction to the franchise's fifth season, the film replaced the quite powerful Zeo powers with powers that were car-related. Not only that, but one of the Rangers was replaced with an annoying 12-year-old kid. And to top it off, the villain had to be one of the most annoying big bads that has ever been on any show.
Let's just say that my time with Power Rangers, besides watching some episodes of Power Rangers In Space and Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, had come to an end. The film was pretty much an insult to not only the fans who stuck with the show, but to the franchise that made the film possible to begin with. Or maybe I just grew up and realized that Power Rangers just didn't capture my attention anymore. Either way, I moved on to bigger and better things after the film's release.
However, thanks to Netflix and 2013 being the franchise's 20th anniversary, I've been watching all the seasons again. And since I'm up to Power Rangers: Turbo [ugh], I figured I would rewatch TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE. I hadn't seen it since 1997, so I figured maybe time would be kinder to it than my memories of the film were. Unfortunately, the movie is still a crapfest of epic proportions and shows that the franchise was on life support by this point and time.
Some evil, melodramatic villain named Divatox (Hilary Shepard Turner) is the captain of a submarine filled with her minions. Wanting great power, Divatox wants to sacrifice people to some fire creature named Maligore - a creature Divatox wants to marry in order to rule the universe with him. The only way she can do this is to kidnap some wizard named Lerigot (Jon Simanton), who has a key that will unlock Maligore from his prison on an island called Maranthius. Divatox sends her minions after Lerigot, but they fail, allowing Lerigot to land on Earth and get the attention of the Power Rangers. Tommy (Jason David Frank) and Kat (Catherine Sutherland) save him and bring him back to the Command Center.
Before the Power Rangers can celebrate their victory, they learn that Divatox was one step ahead of them. Not only did she kidnap Lerigot's wife and child, but also two former Power Rangers - Jason (Austin St. John) and Kimberly (Amy Jo Johnson) - who she plans to sacrifice to Maligore due to their good spirits. Divatox wants a trade - Jason and Kimberly for Lerigot.
Zordon (Winston Richard) decides that the Zeo powers aren't enough for Divatox, for whatever reason. Instead, he has the Rangers "Shift Into Turbo" with their new Turbo powers and Zords in the form of cars. While driving towards and getting on a pirate ship called the Ghost Galleon, the Rangers learn that Rocky (Steve Cardenas) is no longer the Blue Ranger, as a 12-year-old named Justin (Blake Foster) has taken his place. The Turbo Power Rangers arrive on Maranthius, ready to stop Divatox from achieving her goal and hurting their friends.
I have three words for TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE:
WHAT THE FUCK!?
TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE is a terrible film. Yeah, you may think I'm nuts criticizing a film that's based on a television show that many consider terrible to begin with. But Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and Power Rangers: Zeo knew how to take the bad stuff and turn it into something so ridiculous, you couldn't help but enjoy yourself watching it happen. The Power Rangers franchise knew it was silly, which is why so many of us loved the franchise to begin with. But for every step forward, TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE takes three steps back. It's no surprise the main cast members would leave in the middle of Power Rangers: Turbo. It's no surprise this movie and the season that quickly followed almost ended the franchise for good. TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE is the point where the franchise truly "jumped the shark".
Before I get into the film itself, I should go into what TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE was originally intended to be. The movie was originally going to be three hours long. According to star Johnny Yong Bosch, the original script was supposed to be a logical lead-in into the fifth season [unlike MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE, this movie is canon with the television series]. There were supposed to be more supporting characters, a bit more character development, more action, and an explanation as to why the Rangers would switch from Zeo to Turbo power. Of course, the elimination of all these things is what makes TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE a failure.
While there was supposed to be a Mermaid character that Adam falls in love with, and a better explanation as to why Jason and Kimberly are even in this film [they were romantically involved to cause drama with Tommy and Kat], I don't really have issue that these plot elements were eliminated. I do, however, have issue with how matter-of-fact the switching of powers is. For those who don't know, the Rangers lost their Morphin' powers at the end of Season 3. Once Season 4 [Zeo] arrived, the Rangers received these crystals that would grow stronger in time, making these heroes more powerful than ever. Which is why I can't fathom why Zordon would want his heroes to GIVE UP their mega-powerful Zeo powers for quick driving lessons - I mean, the Turbo powers.
The original plan was for former Blue Ranger on the Mighty Morphin' team, Billy, to be the one who had created the Turbo powers as some sort of upgrade from their Zeo powers. During certain episodes of the Power Rangers: Zeo season, Billy would go away somewhere randomly without explaining what he was doing to the Rangers - therefore implying that he was busy creating these new Zords for them. However, actor David Yost had left Zeo [or was fired, depending on who you ask - long story]. So while Yost had filmed scenes for TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE [the film was made during the final episodes of Zeo], his scenes were cut out of the film, leaving no explanation as to the reasoning of the switch.
I also dislike the way the Rangers gain the powers as well. In previous power changes, the Rangers had to scratch and crawl to evolve as heroes. They had to go through a quest to gain their Ninja Powers. They had to find their roots as children to gain the Zeo Crystals. But here? Zordon makes them touch a game of Simon and they become Turbo Rangers. How fucking exciting.
As for the characters, there's no real character development at all. Not that one would expect that from a film called TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE. But what made the original team so popular was that each character was a stereotype that clicked when they all came together. Jason was the leader. Zack was the comic relief and dance man. Billy was the genius. Trini was the peacekeeper and Billy's translator. Kimberly was the hot Valley Girl. And Tommy was the evil-turned-good badass. This Turbo team has none of that at all. Tommy is past his prime at this point. Kat is a hot Australian and that's it. Tanya is her token black friend. Adam is the shy backbone of the team. And Justin - well, he's a 12-year-old kid! Not exactly characters anyone would be thrilled to see. It's no wonder the ratings for Turbo would slightly improve once this team [sans Justin] leave in the middle of the season. People were just bored by them.
And don't get me started on Divatox - the villain of this film and the rest of the season. She's definitely no Rita Repulsa or Lord Zedd. She's no King Mondo. And she's definitely no charismatic Ivan Ooze! This chick is whiny, annoying, and leading a bunch of morons to do her dirty work. Sure, she has great boobs [two of the few highlights of this film], but there's nothing about her that strikes me as threatening to anyone. Every hero is as great as their villain. And now I know why Power Rangers: Turbo failed big time.
You know what else doesn't work in this movie? The actual screenplay! My God, this has to be one of the most boring fantasy films I have ever seen. For a Power Rangers movie, there are barely any Power Rangers in it! We see them in costume once of twice within the first 40 minutes of the film, and then don't see them again in costume until the last 20 minutes! Instead, we have to watch Rocky injure himself in a really ridiculous way [who spin kicks out of a wrestling ring?]. We have to watch Zordon make a 12 year old kid into a Power Ranger because he figured out their secret [really Zordon?]. We have to watch the Power Rangers take a LONG boat ride towards their destination as they follow Divatox and her submarine [zzzzz...].
Speaking of which, why the fuck do the Power Rangers have powers based on LAND vehicles when their adversary is a WATER villain?????
*bangs head on desk multiple times*
God, this movie is terrible - even for Power Rangers.
The special effects for this film are pretty much in line with what the television show was doing. The Zords look like toys [CHA-CHING!], the monsters look like dudes in bad costumes, and Divatox has great breasts [did I mention that already?]. I do have to say that the battle at the end between the Turbo MegaZord and Maligore is pretty lame, as the Power Rangers take the guy out like nothing. So it makes the build up very pointless. Also, Lerigot looks absolutely ridiculous. The Muppets even laughed at how fake he looks. Honestly, I would have rather seen a guy dressed in a wizard costume than this...whatever it is. Sure, Lerigot is good for a laugh. But it doesn't really save the film at all. I dunno, guys - when I think of a Power Rangers movie, I would expect more out of it than what we usually see on television. That's why I liked MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE. Sure the CGI was pretty bad, but at least it was different for the series. The producers actually tried to present a movie that felt much bigger than anything that had come before it. TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE is been there, done that. There's nothing really special by how it all looks.
The direction by both Shuki Levy [co-founder of Saban Entertainment] and David Winning is what it is - made for television. There isn't much work done to really make the film feel more special. It looks like a 96-minute season premiere to Power Rangers: Turbo that would have been better condensed into maybe a three-part mini-series of some sort. The pacing is pretty bad, especially since much of the middle act is just the Rangers sailing on a ship, and Kimberly and Jason saving Bulk and Skull from drowning within Divatox's prison in her submarine. There's no effort into the visuals that make it stand apart from the actual series, which is unfortunate. The film probably would have sucked regardless, but at least some eye candy would have improved things done. Instead, it's just ho-hum.
The acting, again, isn't all that special. But there are some standouts. While I'm not a fan of Divatox, at least Hilary Shepard Turner seems to be enjoying herself in the role. She doesn't phone it in like the rest of her co-stars, which makes her somewhat tolerable and enjoyable. Also, huge mention must go to Amy Jo Johnson as Kimberly - especially when she turns evil. She was hot before, but DAMN! Something about those red eyes and that demonic voice turned me on. The acting was too terrible in this film. Pretty much on par with the actual show.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE SHIFTING INTO TURBO
- Everyone but Justin sang "Row Row Your Boat" on a school bus. The mom from TROLL 2 probably would have had her husband teach this kid some hospitality.
- Rocky did a spin kick so bad, he flew out of the ring he was training inside of. Someone's trying a bit too hard to be on Botchamania.
- Bulk and Skull crashed into Norman's Bait Shop. Get it? Norman's Bait? I think this film is what really murdered Mother.
- Divatox enjoys eating flies. Looks like Jeff Goldblum may be getting lucky very soon.
- Divatox took Jason hostage and dressed him up like a Sith. Or maybe they wanted me to rearrange the letters in "Sith" to perfectly describe this movie. Whichever the case, the Force is definitely not with TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE.
- Being a sacrificial lamb, Kimberly was turned evil after being sacrificed to Maligore. She may not be a Power Ranger anymore, but she still manages to tickle me pink!
THE FINAL HOWL
TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE is everything a Power Rangers film shouldn't be. It's not epic in scale enough. It's not action-packed enough. And the story doesn't really give anyone, including fans of this franchise, a reason to really care about the change in powers and the new characters that are introduced. Gekisou Sentai Carranger may have saved the Japanese franchise in Japan. But it almost killed the American franchise everywhere else. Just a really bad movie to support a really ridiculous season that has got to be one of the lowest points in the Power Rangers franchise. You'll definitely "Shift Into Turbo" with the help of the "fast forward" button.