In the early 1990s, Saturday morning programming was enjoying success spanning into afternoon cartoons with The Disney Afternoon showing Ducktales and Goof Troop. Cable networks called Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network provided hours of entertainment with Doug and Ren and Stimpy and repeats of The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo capturing the hearts of a new generation. The main leader of all this was and will always be Fox Kids. Fox Kids gave us critically acclaimed hits every week with the gritty presence of Batman: The Animated Series, the semi-serious and poignant X-Men, and the variety show-esque stylings of Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures. It was an great time to grow up after being born in 1992, but no show was more popular than the cult classic Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.
Power Rangers combined all the action of Masters of the Universe, the dialogue of cheesy goodness of a regular episode of Saved By the Bell, and ridiculous plots of a classic episode of M.A.S.K. Five (later six after converting the Green Ranger to their side) teenagers given powers by Zordon to protect the the city of Angel Grove, as well as the universe, from the clutches of Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd. The rangers battle against the Putties, got involved in gigantic Zord battles straight out of a classic Kaiju film, and the occasional mishaps of those always kooky Bulk and Skull. The show relied on footage from the Super Sentai series from Japan in order to adapt it for an American audience complete with horrendous dubbing and accidental racism in casting a black actor as the black ranger and an Asian actress as the yellow ranger. The show was so popular with everyone at the time that 20th Century Fox teamed with Saban Entertainment to deliver the cinematic opus known as Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie and well…it was indeed a movie.
This 1995 ‘classic’ of nostalgia gave the audience what they wanted: Power Rangers on the big screen, for better or worse. Upping the ante and giving the film version a bigger budget, this film falls flat in every way possible with poor dialogue, a godawful plot and CGI that is laughable by 1995 standards. Even the show, while stupid, had more dignity than this pile of dung.
The film starts with an opening crawl explaining what most of us already know about the ranger and somehow manages to make that sound boring. After that dramatic opening, Billy, Kimberly, Tommy, Rocky, Aisha and Adam are skydiving in honor of Ryan’s Comet passing the Earth because Hayley’s Comet is apparently copyrighted. Also, those hoping for Jason, Zack and Trini, they were out of the show by this time, so we are stuck with half of the original Rangers and now the accidental racism is non existent. They land and encourage a young boy named Fred Kelman, who is just as bland as his name, that he is to keep looking up to them. Bulk and Skull also get out of the plane after it is over the downtown area of Angel Grove and humorously land in an construction site. Bulk and Skull witness the uncovering of a large egg at the site causing Zordon to flip his wig.
The egg is known to contain the shape-shifter named Ivan Ooze who was captured 6,000 by Zordon tricking him into the egg before his ooze can take over the world. Zordon calls upon the Rangers to investigate the egg as soon as Rita Repulsa, Lord Zedd, Goldar and even Mordant of all villains to release Ivan Ooze, played another than Indiana Jones’ asshole rival Belloq, I mean, Paul Freeman. Funny how Paul Freeman is in one of my personal favorite films and one of my most hated. Anywho, the Ranger comes face to face with Ooze as Freeman grabs the scenery chews it, spits it out and chews it again with hilariously awful puns and jokes. Ivan unleashes his ‘oozelings’ to distract the Rangers with over the top backflips galore action as he heads to the command center to destroy it and Zordon, resulting in, I kid you not, the best scene in this movie. With Zordon destroy, the Rangers are left dejected with depression and sadness destroying their radical gen X attitudes. Thank god because saying “Awesome!” and “Cool” was gonna drive me to drink.
The Rangers are told to receive a great power on Phaedos by Zordon passes away. Ivan Ooze goes about his personal plan betraying the orders of Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd trapping them in a snow globe of Angel Grove to take on the role of a con-man wizard giving out ooze to kids for free. Meanwhile, the Rangers are on the jungle planet and come across Dulcea, a guardian of the planet who can lead them to the great power.
FILM A WEEK FUN FACT
Mariska Hargitay had to take over for awhile while actress Gabrielle Fitzpatrick was in the hospital. She shot her scenes, but none were ever used due to Fitzpatrick returning for her scenes. Luckily, we have photographic evidence of the gorgeous Hargitay as Dulcea
Dulcea gives them the spirits of animals (Ape, Frog, Wolf, Crane, Falcon, and Bear) as they become ninja rangers. The team goes to find the zords to connect to their power and battle a skeleton triceratops which is actually not that bad of a fight scene. Back on Earth, Ivan Ooze has hypnotized the parents of Angel Grove in order to work for him to create ‘ectomorphicons’ that will do his bidding to destroy Angel Grove once and for all. Fred gets wind off this and sees that Ivan Ooze is leading the parents to their death off a cliff like lemmings. Fortanatley, our Rangers show up to defeat Ooze’s ectomorphicons, save the parents from mind control and somehow use the Falcon zord to help guide a monorail to the other side without destroying the darn thing. Ooze sees the destruction of his ectomorphicons and merges with one to become giant Ivan Ooze with the Rangers forming their new Ninja Megazords in a horrendous CGI battle. Jurassic Park was just two years before this film and the CGI here looks like Phillips CD-I material in comparison to that film. They fight in space and manage to beat Ivan Ooze by kneeing him in the go go power gonads. Thus, the day, rather night, is saved by the Power Rangers. Cue the Van Halen and fade to black.
Power Rangers: The Movie is a mess of the highest regard. The acting is abysmal save for Paul Freeman’s scene stealing Ivan Ooze, the action is shot horribly and the film fails to capture the fun of the show. The show had moments of pure action and serious moments of storytelling, which is more apparent during the In Space years. The film tries to appeal to its core audience yet alienates anyone willing to give the Power Rangers a chance by making it as narrow minded as possible to a particular group. The nostalgia goggles are off for this as I feel this is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Judging by my strong critique of this film, you may think I hate the Power Rangers. On the contrary as I love the heck out of the Power Rangers series despite no longer watching it after I believe was Lightspeed Rescue. As for those who say the original was the best, I beg to differ as each season and iteration has there plus and negatives. Personally, I loved In Space and Zeo and I do not regret any influence this series has on me. The movie is more of a disappointment and a poor effort in adapting a show to the big screen. I do not recommend this film at all, but you can watch it for Paul Freeman chewing up the scenery.
Next week, Film A Week will be covering animated films all of April with some guest writers to boot. First up on the animation block is the underrated masterpiece from Dreamworks that features death, betrayal, the cost of greed and religious faith. April 6th, me and my sister Jennifer Berrueta go Back to the Drawing Board for The Prince of Egypt.
Film A Week Week 13: Back to the Drawing Board Month- The Prince of Egypt (1998)
Saturday, April 6th