aka Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie
Director – Bryan Spicer, Screenplay – Arne Olsen, Story – Arne Olsen & John Kamps, Producers – Suki Levy, Haim Saban & Suzanne Todd, Photography – Paul Murphy, Music – Graeme Revell, Music Supervisor – Happy Walters, Visual Effects Supervisor – Erik Henry, Visual Effects – Digital Magic, Optical Illusions Inc, VCE & VIFX, Special Effects Supervisor – Tad B. Pride, Creatures – Optic Nerve & Studio Kite, Production Design – Craig Stearns. Production Company – Saban Entertainment/Toei
Jason Frank (Tommy), Amy Jo Johnson (Kimberly), David Yost (Billy), John Yong Bosch (Adam), Karan Ashley Jackson (Aiesha), Steven Cardenas (Rocky), Paul Freeman (Ivan Ooze), Gabrielle Fitzpatrick (Dulcie), Jamie Croft (Fred Kelman), Nicholas Bell (Zordon), Peta-Maree Rixon (Alpha 5), Paul Schrier (Bulk), Jason Narvy (Skull), Julia Cortez (Rita)
Construction workers uncover a claw holding a giant egg. The egg hatches, bringing back to life the evil intergalactic warlord Ivan Ooze who has been imprisoned for 6000 years. Ivan then destroys the secret castle base of Zordon, the intergalactic guardian who has given six teens special powers to help fight evil as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. With Zordon dying, the Power Rangers no longer have their powers. The only hope to defeat Ivan is for them to travel to the planet Vedos and gain alternate abilities from spirit of Ninjetti.
The tv series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993-6) leapt onto the small screen in the mid 1990s and became a phenomenon. Featuring teenage heroes pitted against utterly unconvincing rubber monsters in wall-to-wall martial arts fights and completely over-the-top acting from its villains, it succeeded in becoming an adolescent cult phenomenon. In actuality, it was a Japanese tv series Super Sentai (1975– ), which had been brought up by children’s entertainment producers Saban Entertainment and re-edited for Western audiences, keeping the Japanese chop suey and effects sequences and simply adding several minutes of live-action inserts with American actors for the non-fight scenes each episode (as well as for some reason turning one of the original male superheroes into a girl).
The phenomenon burst out onto the silver screen in this all-new original production here. There is not a lot of difference between Power Rangers: The Movie and the series – there is still the same wild chop suey martial arts, the same rubber monsters, the same shrieking overacting and the same stalwart posing – the film merely has a better budget, which means that the rubber monsters get to morph occasionally. Like the series, the film is consumed with a silliness that defies all belief. The wild martial arts sequences are not that different from those in the average Hong Kong fantasy film, but these are conducted with an obviousness that loudly communicates the filmmakers lack of belief in what it is they are presenting on the screen.
However, when the film tries to take itself seriously – or at least the teen actors do – the po-faced woodenness seems equally ridiculous. The teenagers lack any sense of individuality – it is not even until halfway through the film that we get to learn their names and even then it is almost impossible to tell them apart. Paul Freeman, an otherwise distinguished British actor, overacts wildly, throwing awful one-liners in in the midst of action. The person who comes out of it the best is Australian model Gabrielle Fitzpatrick who incarnates the bikinied Amazonian warrior queen with some sizzle.
The place where the film does attain some plausibility is towards the end during a glitteringly beautiful computer-animated sequence with the Power Rangers’ various Transformer vehicles fighting against Ooze’s mirror-metal war insects – all hawk transformers swooping, lion transformers rearing up and the like. At other times, the budget does show through – the sky and moons outside Rita’s stronghold window is a backdrop that has a crinkle in it, for example.