Monday, April 17, 2017

MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE (1995) - *1/2



Rated PG for action violence
Running time: 95 min.
Release date: June 30, 1995


In order to appreciate Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, you have to be one of two types of people: a) 11 years old or younger or b) a marketing executive. Since yours truly is neither, I feel that I can be impartial here and provide an honest opinion about the ninety-five minutes spent watching this unfold. If you were between the ages of 6-10 at any point in the 1990s, then you are quite familiar with the television program that spun off into this film. I spent the '90's in my 20s and so the whole phenomenon passed me by, and thankfully so. There are no rose-colored nostalgia glasses here.

The story opens with six teenagers jumping out of a plane, skydiving for charity to the strains of "Higher Ground" by Red Hot Chili Peppers. I will admit that I'm a sucker for late 80s-early 90s alternative rock, and with the additional bonus of some very good aerial footage, the first few minutes of the film are actually the most enjoyable. Then the kids open their mouths and utter some of the most inane or vapid dialogue ever heard in a film. Not only that, but the kids are color-coded so that even if you don't remember their names, you could always call them "the pink one" or "the white one". These kids are known as the Power Rangers and their identities are a secret to everyone else in Angel Grove (California? Arizona? ....USA?). If you have kids and you watch this with them, you're about to be reminded why it's best to practice safe sex even after marriage. The story picks up when construction workers unearth the centuries-old egg which serves as the prison cell of the most vile, evil villain the universe has ever known. His name is Ivan Ooze. The arch-enemies of the Power Rangers also have names like Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd. You can tell who Lord Zedd is because he has a big letter "Z" at the end of his staff. They release Ivan Ooze from his egg, who then proceeds to exact revenge on Zordon, the holographic floating head that servers as advisor to the Power Rangers. Zordon is served by an irritating robot named Alpha-5, who proclaims "Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi" at the first sign of trouble. With Zordon incapacitated, the Power Rangers lose their powers and are helpless to stop Ivan's evil plan to enslave the adult population of Angel Grove. There is always a chance at hope, however, as the kids are sent to another planet to seek out something called the Great Power, which would hopefully restore order. The plot seems like it would be better served on the small screen for the television series and feels stretched out on the big screen. The fact that Ivan Ooze was buried for centuries in Angel Grove is rather dumb as is the whole idea that Angel Grove is apparently the setting for all the universe-saving showdowns. Sure, kids don't think about such details as this, but we're adults here. At least, most of us are anyway.

Bryan Spicer is mostly noted for being a director in the television realm and that style shows here. He does make use of the bigger budget with some very good special effects, but the tone and pacing are completely off for the big screen. This film could have been three of four episodes of the series spliced together. The climactic battle with Ivan Ooze is done with computer-generated effects and it comes off as clumsy. The plot is also lacking in a dramatic build-up to the final battle. The screenplay by Arne Olsen is strictly written with kids in mind, with dialogue that is only meant to advance the story. Small talk is kept to a minimum and the one-liners are not very funny. There is no expository moments that could have been used to give someone--ANYONE-- a personality.

The cast are made up of the regulars from the television series, with Jason David Frank as "the white one", Amy Jo Johnson as "the pink one".......and then everyone else. Seriously, those are the only two cast members that are really given any time to show us anything. Johnson is the only one that gets to emote when they all realize that Zordon may be dying. At the end of the film, we get a glimpse of goo-goo eyes between Johnson and Frank that may or may not be the beginning of a romance. The rest of the crew are just there as cardboard cutouts. The best performance in the film comes from Paul Freeman as Ivan Ooze. He gets the best lines in the film ("Oh, the things that I have missed: the Black Plague, the Spanish Inquisition.....the Brady Bunch reunion.") with flawless comedic timing, sounding like a W.C. Fields copycat. Freeman provides Ooze with enough sneering sarcasm to stand out in a cast of actors whose skill-level ranges from mediocre to downright awful. Let's not forget Gabrielle Fitzpatrick as Dulcea, whose master warrior bikini outfit stands out like a sore thumb in a PG film where the rest of the cast don't even show much more than a leg. She also appeared to be the only human inhabitant of the desolate planet, so I guess she can dress however she wants.

For all the criticism laid upon it here, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie is not the worst movie one will ever see. It has a few moments that shine, mostly with the opening and whenever Paul Freeman is on-screen. The best thing that can be said about the film is that it's just...there. It is a film intended for non-discerning children who are not into deep, philosophical discussions. On that level alone, and only that level, there is enjoyment to be found. You adults that have to sit through it however, let this be a lesson to you. Also, a word to you suits in the marketing department: well done. And your day is coming.

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