So one night, I was drinking and like many drunk people deem to do, I decided to watch “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie”. Mainly because at the moment I am doing a run-through of the entire Power Ranger series from beginning to end (Netflix is the best!) and so I’m in a Power Ranger mood; partly because I wanted a movie that I didn’t have to think about while watching. Unfortunately, not thinking is the opposite of what I ended up doing. In my drunken state, I began to notice parts of the movie that bothered me that had never really bothered me before, and so this article was born. Originally this was just intended to be a quick little article about all the things I noticed, but I found out that the words kept flowing, so I just turned it into an in-depth review. I wanted to add a bunch of pictures as well, but unfortunately, the Kinja editing tool is a pain to use, so no go!
You’re a Power Ranger Harry!
Nothing special, standard movie fare. Big Bad is introduced, plucky heroes get their asses kicked, go find the Magic Macguffin, plucky heroes use said MacGuffin to save the day. The B-Plot involves a plucky child sidekick trying to stop all the adults of Angel Grove from killing themselves because they’re sick of dealing with him (and Ivan Ooze or something) Also, this is technically an alternate universe movie set in between the second and third seasons of MMPR.
Let me preface this with a disclaimer: even as a child I hated Tommy. I’m not sure what it is about him, but I never liked the character. I’ll try to keep this review as neutral as possible, although I find that a lot of
“WE” Tommy. Follow your own damn advice!
problems trace back to Tommy. Generally in a team-based movie like this, not liking one character would be okay, considering that there are “x” amount of other characters in the team that you can watch. Unfortunately, the script-writers seemed to have an infatuation with Tommy, and so it felt like the movie was more “Tommy Oliver and the Quest to do Everything”. Seriously, I’m almost tempted to watch the movie again and keep track of how much of the expository dialogue is actually given to Tommy. I mean yes, he is the leader, but I am almost certain that Tommy gets about 75% of the total expository dialogue, with the rest split among everyone else. The other Rangers are reduced to reacting to either things that are happening, or commenting on the latest “Tommy Oliver Inspiring Speech ™”.
It’s not just the dialogue either that suffers from this, it’s the battle scenes as well. In the fight with the Junior Oozes, Tommy defeats 3 times as many as the other Rangers. Billy and Aisha are the only other Rangers who actually destroy any of the Junior Oozes - Tommy ends up defeating 8 of them. Two in hand to hand combat, and another 6 he crushes under that container, but I’m still counting it. In the final battle he is the only one who actually destroys an Ectomorphicon (Billy and Adam help out, but ultimately Tommy is the one who destroys Scorpitron).
The whole movie seems like it was written with one character in mind, and then the other characters were just added in because it’s a Power Ranger movie and that annoys me. The old maxim “There is no I in team” is completely ignored in favour of giving Tommy the most dialogue and screen-time.
The Other Rangers
A lot of this was technically already covered in the Tommy section, but there is still a little to talk about in regards to the other Rangers. My biggest gripe has to be with how they treated the character of Kimberly. While Kimberly was always the valley girl/girly girl, they never sacrificed her competence as a fighter and a Ranger. This movie shits on that completely. Kimberly is transformed
Pretty much the most useful she is the whole movie
into a valuable member of the team into the standard “damsel in distress”. Tengu fight: “TOMMY, HELP ME!”; Bone Creature fight: “TOMMY, HELP ME!!”; Final battle: “TOMMY, HELP ME!!”. You get the picture. The Junior Ooze battle is the only fight in the entire movie where she actually does anything. That’s what annoyed me the most, you’re a Power Ranger; do Power Ranger stuff instead of screaming for help every five minutes!
As for the other Rangers, there isn’t much else to say, considering how little they actually did in the movie. The only standout part from any of the other Rangers is the scene after they get the Ninja Powers from Dulcea - Adam’s “I’m a frog” line. While it was ad-libbed, it fit Adam’s TV personality
The most effective part of that whole fight
perfectly: that of a teenager with self-esteem issues in regards to his martial arts prowess as a person and a Ranger. None of the other characters really get their chance to act in character: Billy doesn’t get to do any techno-wiz stuff, Aisha doesn’t get to be her overly sassy, “I take no one’s shit” person (not counting battle banter), and Rocky doesn’t get to be Jason-light (I have nothing against Rocky or Jason, I just feel that’s basically what they wanted Rocky to be). I find that even the skydiving scene suffers from a lack of character focus (on anyone other than Tommy).
No Adam, you’re a goddamn prince!
The only place I feel where the other Rangers are actually not completely outshone by Tommy is the final Zord battle, which is pretty much only because they need to showcase the new Zords and the things that they can do.
Now I realize that some of my issues can be traced to the fact that this is a (low-budget) movie and thus only has limited time for everything, but other movies have pulled off team dynamics just fine. Plus, the movie should be helped along by the fact that these are all established characters so no world building is really needed (except on Phaedos and that’s done pretty well), so there aren’t too many excuses I feel can be made.
For this one I’m going to try and stay away from the characters themselves and focus strictly on the fights themselves which in this case are: The Junior Ooze fight, the Tengu fight, the Guardian fight, and the oh so infamous Final Battle.
The Junior Ooze fight is my favorite fight in the entire movie. It’s well choreographed, the famous Ranger banter is all there, and the clever use of the tools and equipment left at the construction site mean that overall there is not much to complain about. Unfortunately, there are still some things I
You can tell they mean business by their dreadlocks
found that bugged me. First off, the CGI Junior Ooze head kick is just completely out of place stylistically. I mean yes, they are made out of Ooze so they would be squishy, but the bulging eyes, squished thin head just never sat right with me. Power Rangers was always over the top (it’s Sentai, what else would it be), but that kind of Looney Tunes physical comedy was never a part of it and feels like an excuse to add in CGI (which I’ll get to later).
My other two gripes with the Junior Ooze fight deal with Ranger choreography, one is personal and the other is (what I feel) a legitimate one. So what I feel is the
THIS IS NOT OKAY
legitimate gripe is the amount of flips that happen in the un-morphed and morphed portions of the fights. The back-flip scene near the end of the (unmorphed) fight is one of the biggest offenders. For those of you who can’t recall, the Rangers decide to group up and take on the remaining Junior Oozes, and so they all back-flip to each other. Not just once (like generally in the show) or even twice, but at least half a dozen back-flips in a row, and it just ends up looking awkward (I think they sped up the frames for that part) and unnatural. They do another back-flip group-up in the morphed fight as well, but it doesn’t look nearly as awkward. Also, why the hell does Tommy do 6 front flips in a row when he’s grouping up with the rest of them? There’s looking cool, there’s showing off, and then there’s that.
The other is Tommy’s spinning jump/flying repeated kick. Now unlike other parts of this article, I am not bashing Tommy himself, this has to do with how it looks in action. Tommy has used this move in the TV show and even then it looks terrible; partly because that’s a hard practical effect to make look good, partly because HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK?! Yes, you’re a Power Ranger and have superhuman powers and can occasionally defy physics with your jumps, but shit, some things can’t be waved away by gaining magic powers from a vaguely British Guy trapped in a fluorescent light bulb. Also the spinning jump (and Billy’s spinning fall) just look awkward as hell.
The Tengu fight, while not my favourite fight is probably the best in the entire movie (I love the Tengu). This is because the fight shows exactly what it’s supposed to show: the Rangers are outclassed without their powers and they need to get the new powers ASAP. My only complaint is what they did with Kimberly (which I talked about before),
I had that same blank look a few times myself.
although because they are technically powerless, I can cut her a little slack here. Now some of you might be saying I’m hypocritical with this fight because I criticized the Looney Tunes style physical comedy of the Junior Ooze fight, when this fight scene does the same thing with the Tengu crashing into the wall. Except I’m not; this type of humor fits in perfectly with the series because if you’ve ever watched a Putty Patroller fight (which the Tengu replace), some of the crap the Patrollers do is worse (infected with the flea bite, twerking (I kid you not), and that weird side dance from the “Hot for Teacher” and “I Can’t Dance” music videos). Plus, there’s no awkwardly inserted CGI to make it look bad.
The Bone Monster fight fills the spot of the “Secondary Monster” that was prevalent in the TV show because of them having to splice together Sentai footage to make the episodes work. This would happen in some episodes where the Rangers would have to fight two
The only picture of it that doesn’t have Tommy in it
monsters because they couldn’t get enough useable footage of one monster to build an episode around. The fight itself is pretty cool because “HOLY CRAP THIS BEAST SKELETON IS ALIVE” (and brings up the question as to whether or not the thing is actually a skeleton monster in its natural habitat or something brought it to life). Of course then Mr. “My superpower is keeping white clothing unnaturally clean” has to swoop in and save the day (again, a recurring event). Otherwise, it’s a middle of the road fight.
The Guardian fight overall is nothing special. Some inventive ways to defeat the Guardians (apparently there’s acid in that pool?”) and the cleaving in half (which is one of the few places the CGI isn’t terrible and is surprisingly dark for Power Rangers). My
The “dark and gritty” part of the movie
issue with this fight (besides the Kimberly character issue) is it is the one place where you can tell the difference between the Rangers and their stunt doubles. This occurs when Rocky does the splits to avoid the spear thrown at him, and it’s painfully obvious even just by the hair that it’s not him; same goes with the scene right before when Billy makes his “splitting headache” joke. As well, because the fight itself is so short, I feel like the Rangers never get to actually show off any of the cool ninja stuff that they do in the show (again, more of a nitpick/movie constraint issue). Fun fact, Jonny Yong Bosch did the majority of his own stunts in this movie because his stunt double broke his leg during a fight rehearsal.
The Final Battle is infamous for its liberal use of (horrible) CGI, but that’s not the focus of this portion of the article. While it the battle itself does suffer from the CGI use, it’s not that terrible in the end. It showcases
different powers that the Zords have on their own (that aren’t really touched upon in the TV show), and the fact that Ivan Ooze takes control of his own creation in order to fight the Rangers is admittedly a pretty cool idea. Although again, Tommy is the only one who destroys anything. This battle also marks one of the few (if the only) times where the
I feel like the sun reflecting off them would do more damage than they did
Rangers don’t defeat the monster themselves (although did anyone else think that a “comet” coming that close is actually really terrifying, like holy crap that thing could’ve hit the Earth!”). I also found it funny that in true Power Ranger fashion, Tommy’s Falcon zord just happened to fit PERFECTLY in the gap in the tracks and that the train actually ran perfectly across, what a happy coincidence eh?
Also, why does the Ninjazord have an EMERGENCY BUTTON MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR NUTSHOTS?!
The Power Rangers movie has a decent cast of other characters who all do the jobs that they’re assigned to do, except for two standout (in wildly different ways) performances, which I’ll get to.
Everyone knows that they’re the real main characters
First off, everyone’s favourite bumbling duo, Bulk and Skull. Bulk and Skull are one of the few characters who are perfectly written. To almost jumping out of the plane without parachutes (to then getting scared to jump out and landing in the construction zone), to taking credit for the Power Rangers’ deeds at the end of the movie, Bulk and Skull were perfectly done. Although did anyone else find it kind of creepy that they were partying with all the parentless kids (also, Ooze smoothies [oozies?]? Blegh)? I mean yes, all these characters are meant to be in high school at the time, but the dichotomy between the child actors and Bulk and Skull makes it more creepy than anything (in my eyes).
Alpha 5 and Zordon are not complex characters by any stretch of imagination. It’s an androgynously voiced and only occasionally competent robot sidekick and a floating head on a tube that provides advice that the Rangers wouldn’t need if they shared more than half a brain between all of them. Really hard to screw up. The only
Mr. Freeze? What are you doing here?
thing I found that didn’t make sense with Zordon is that despite being trapped in a Time/Interdimensional Warp in the series, all of a sudden he’s just there, lying in a bed of crystals at the bottom of the tube. Stylistically, I like it, it humanizes Zordon from being more than just a floating head, and really gives the Rangers something to fight for, but story-wise it widely contradicts the established canon (as much as Power Rangers already has [and the fact this is technically an alternate universe]). If Zordon was always at the bottom of the tube, why would it always be so hard to find Zordon when disappeared those few times in the TV show (most notably in the “Green with Evil” episodes). This is more of nitpick though than anything.
Lord Zedd, Rita Repulsa, Goldar, and Mordant don’t have too much screen time (aside from when they’re with Ivan Ooze), but they all play their parts well enough. Zedd and Rita play the evil-but-incompetent villains, while Goldar continues to be a
I never realized Bulk and Skull played two parts in the movie
watered-down version of Starscream. Mordant (who ends up being a scrapped character) is basically just a combination of Squatt and Baboo, and is nothing special.
Dulcea made me feel things that confused my small, innocent childhood brain. Watching it now, I can appreciate how hard it must have to been to act that character without making it look so cheesy. Am I the only one who kind of got the feeling that there had been something between Zordon
There is nothing I can say that wouldn’t come off creepy at this point
and Dulcea waaaaaaaaaay back when? No? Just me? Damn. Also, I can’t imagine the amount of chafing and sand/rocks that she had to deal with in that costume.
Ivan Ooze. Paul Freeman absolutely kills it in this role. To his ad-libbed line of “The Brady Bunch Reunion”, to his unsettlingly creepy clown, I have nothing bad to say about Ivan Ooze. One thing that confused me about him was that for a guy who could shoot lightning from his fingertips, why did he use a flute to destroy the Command Center (and then we never see it again)? Although he could stand
It’s all that damn “Axe Body Spray” I tells ya!
to have a better naming scheme for his monsters. Hornitor and Scorpitron? C’mon Ivan, you can do better than that.
NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!
And now for the character I absolutely despise: Fred Kelman, the obligatory plucky child sidekick that saves the day (at least in the movie’s B-plot). Really, what’s the point of including him? I mean okay yes, they do need someone the audience can relate to and drive along the B-plot (although I feel like Bulk and Skull would have been much better) and that you probably should introduce at least one new character (main) character in a movie like this, but Fred was just terrible. The party scene where he makes an impassioned plea for the kids to save their parents? Bull. Shit. I mean come on, they were having a massive (yet somehow family-friendly party); I doubt even a quarter of them would have even gone to save their parents. C’mon Saban, you should have brought back Willy with his amazing 3D rollercoaster game and awesome conductor hat.
The Special Effects and Costuming
Hoo-boy, this is a big one. The Junior Ooze, Tengu, Bone Creature, and Temple Guardians all looked like they were ripped straight out of a Power Rangers episode. I was particularly impressed with the fact that the Junior Ooze actually looked slimy during the battle. The Tengu look the same as they do in the TV show, the Bone Creature was made with what seems to be the same practical effects as the big monsters in the TV show, and the big lumbering Guardians looked Power Ranger-esque as well. Awesomely done.
The only good shiny thing in the entire movie. They look like they can take a hit!
I liked how good the movie Ranger suits looked, mainly because they gave off the impression that they were actually armor that could protect from damage. Unfortunately they were too heavy to use during the regular show which is why they only show up here. I do wish we had gotten to see what other cool things the helmets could do, like with Rocky’s radar and Aisha’s headlights, but oh well.
The Ninja costumes hold a special place in my heart, mainly because I always thought they looked really cool as a kid and wanted a Blue Ninja Costume for Halloween (I never did end up getting one!). While they obviously don’t look like they could stop any kind of attack, one: they’re ninja and shouldn’t be getting hit in the first place (technically) and two: they have magic powers so shut up.
Now onto the infamous CGI. Oh dear lord is it bad. Now yes, this was 1995 and computer graphics back then weren’t the greatest, but shit, when you sink $15 million into a movie, I think that you can make it look just a little bit better. There are a few places that I can excuse the CGI: Ivan rising out of the egg/coming into the Command Center, the birth of the Tengu, the Guardian being cleaved in half, MAYBE Ivan stretching from the tower, and just at the very beginning of the final battle with some of the Zords, but everywhere else? Nope. Nada. No freaking way.
Today, on a VERY special episode of “Pimp My Mecha”!
The Ectomorphicons and Ninja Zords are so bloody shiny and chrome looking, it’s almost like they came off an episode of “Pimp My Ride”. Okay Saban, we get it, they’re made of metal, but not all metal is so goddamn shiny. Not only that, because the CGI is so bad, none of the hits actually feel like they do any damage, and it takes you completely out of the action. I was so disappointed when I saw how awesome looking the claw and the leg were when they were digging them up, only for the Ectomorphicons to end up looking like something even the Go-Bots would laugh at. The worst part of it all for me is there was a scene where Hornitor ends up standing behind a street bridge and attacking, but doesn’t destroy it because they (most likely) couldn’t figure out how to do that. You can blow up a street and some cars, but heaven forbid you destroy a dinky little street bridge.
Well . . . shit. Yeah, I got nothing for this one. At least it was at the end of the movie?
I understand that they wanted to up the scale for this movie and move away from the big rubber suits and guys in boxy robot costumes, but unfortunately they ended up falling flat on their asses and just taking what could have been a pretty decent movie adaptation and turned it into a mediocre at best movie.
Final Wrap Up
Despite everything, “Power Rangers: The Movie” is still one of my all-time favourite movies. The combination of the “it’s so bad it’s good” and “giant monster/robot” genre hits all the right spots for me, along with the whole nostalgia factor. Did the movie have its shortfalls? Absolutely, but they’re what make this movie so good. It brings you back to a simpler time as a child and it’s one of those movies you can just turn on and watch while you turn off your brain. Thanks for reading!
Phasers set to Nutshot!