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DIRECTOR: Bryan Spicer RELEASE DATE: June 30, 1995 RATING (US): PG
CAST: Jason David Frank, Amy Jo Johnson, et al.
// review by Matt

A movie from my childhood.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, like most movies based on television shows, doesn't have a specific place in the canon of the series. This means it can watched regardless of progress through the television series. There isn't really a prerequisite knowledge of the series required, because the movie starts with a short recap. Also, because the movie ends on the status quo, there's very little taken into the next series or show. Newcomers might not understand much of the terminology, but they can still follow what's happening in the movie fairly well.

The movie begins with the Power Rangers unmasked and unsuited, taking a charity skydive in support of the Angel Grove's school disco or something. As per the shows rules, nobody knows the identity of the Power Rangers, hence why they're not suited and booted here. Along for the ride are Bulk and Skull, the comic relief that beggars belief. Bulk reminds me of Internet personality Jim Sterling, so I have a hard time watching this film without quoting parts of the Dismal Jesters podcast and weeping uncontrollably with laughter.

So they're all about to jump out of a helicopter to the musical styling of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Why? Because it's awesome! I don't remember ordering the cheese board; actually, the only way this scene could be more cheesy is if the word RAD flashed on the screen in red block capitals. Also, why would you skydive with a snowboard? Actually, no, if it's Jason David Frank, then quite frankly, it's fine. He can do whatever he wants, and I don't mean that in a nasty way; I think he's a cool guy.

They land, talk to some kid who the writers think is important, and then the Rangers lead off on roller skates. The rangers receive communication from face-in-a-jar Zordon, who asked them to return to a Ranger HQ. They're informed that a dangerous hyper-lock chamber, containing an evil being known only as Ivan Ooze, has been mistakenly uncovered by a clumsy construction company. Of all the ways that the evil is released, I favour this over asteroid from space.

After being equipped with new gear, the Rangers are sent to investigate the area where the chamber had been uncovered. It's night time now because Zordon rattled on for ages. In the original cut of the movie, he prattled on for much longer. Kids have a short attention span, where's the fighting got to? This is Power Rangers, not... Blackout Rangers.

Before the rangers arrive, Lord Zedd and the incredibly-beautiful-or-is-it-just-me Rita Repulsa break open the seal and release Ivan Ooze from his captivity. Working alongside the gruesome twosome are Goldar and a new character they invented so they wouldn't have to spend more money on securing the same voice talent — I'm just going to call him Bacon. He's not important. His animatronics are frightening, too.

Ivan Ooze is revealed and the best acting award is immediately stripped from Jason David Frank and handed to Paul Freeman. Look at that purple tongue! He had to swill black currant juice around his mouth before every take to get it the right colour. I bet he was hyper off all the E-Numbers, which would explain his amazing performance.

When the Rangers arrive, they see firsthand the morphing abilities of Ivan Ooze, who is also now my favourite villain in the entire series, superceding Rita Repulsa and her shocking good looks. She's not repulsive at all. Ooze summons an army of Oozemen to fight the Rangers. Not as many as the Sega Genesis game would have you believe, that's for sure. With the Rangers distracted by Devo's stand-out dance track "Are You Ready?", Ooze attacks Zordon's base of operations, causing irrevocable damage.

The "Best Line In The Movie" award goes to Freeman's amazing ad lib. Ivan agonizes over the terrible things he missed out experiencing. The Black Plague, The Spanish Inquisition... And one that wasn't on the script: The Brady Bunch Reunion! Someone give Paul an Oscar. I don't even know who the Brady Bunch are, but I trust Ivan on this one. Think I can be arsed to Google it? I have better things to do, such as write about Power Rangers.

Bacon and Goldar join Ooze's ranks, while Zedd and Rita are banished into a snow globe. For an extra touch of weirdness, their voices go high pitched while they're in there. Well, at least they've got each other to keep themselves warm. What I wouldn't do to keep Rita Repulsa warm...

As a result of Ooze's attack, Zordon is weakened to a critical state. The Rangers have lost all their powers. Alpha says "Ai-Ai-Ai-Ai-Ai!" Five summons enough Dutch Courage and MacGuffin Juice to send the Rangers to Planet Phaedos, where they seek a mythical power that can bring Zordon back from the cold vice grip of Death and recover their abilities. To Cloud Cuckoo Land it is!

On Phaedos, the Rangers are ambushed by a wave of Tengu Warriors summoned by Ooze. Without their powers to back them up, it seems all hope is lost for the Rangers, at least until this-is-for-the-adults-in-the-audience Dulcea saves them from the Tengu. Could she feasibly wear any less and in a movie for children? Now that I'm a grown up, I can appreciate this movie in all new ways... She asks the Rangers to leave, until sweet-talkin' Jason and Tommy inform Dulcea that they are friends of Zordon and that Ivan Ooze has escaped.

Dulcea was a member of the Order of Meledian, a group of extra-terrestrial beings which included Zordon, who successfully banished Ivan Ooze first time around. Well, they didn't do a bloody good job, did they? Why not banish him to Planet Feces or something? Not somewhere it could be dug up by a bunch of stupid humans! She bestows upon the Rangers the abilities of the Ninjetti. The Ninjetti were the original defenders of Planet Phaedos, and their powers would be necessary for the Rangers to be able to enter the sacred temple where the hidden power is held.

Really, it's an excuse to see the regular cast dressed up in ninja outfits, and why not? The outfits are awesome! They could have spent the whole budget on these, and I wouldn't be upset. Dulcea turns into an owl and flies away because, well, they might as well make her an animal. We've had skydiving on a snowboard and characters banished to a snow globe; do you think they're going to stop there? Just you wait until I reveal Ivan Ooze's plans.

While the Rangers are seeking enlightenment, Ivan Ooze instigates his weird plan. Along with him, two robots were also buried. The Ecto-Morphicons. They could easily level Angel Grove to rubble, and Ivan plans to use them topple the city in order to build his new empire. He brainwashes the parents of Angel Grove using globs of his own snot disguised as jars of putty. Seriously. The adults are brainwashed into digging up his robots. He then orders them to go to the cliff and leap to their doom! Never say die, kids. For a small moment of cheesy fun, he forces one of them to dance stupidly for his merry amusement.

The Rangers defeat stone guardians that defend the great power and return to Angel Grove rejuvenated. That moment where they get their powers back, all the hairs on my arms stand up on edge. It's powerful stuff, or at least I think so. Without time to rest, they are immediately thrust into battle with Ivan Ooze's Ecto-Morphicons. After which, Ivan Ooze merges with his robots in what has to be the most ugliest and poorly aged 3D effect in all of cinema.

During the production of the film, Saban said they thought the 3D effects looked better than the practical effects used in the show. Funny, because now the 3D effects look like a first-year graphics student dropped trow over zBrush. I like a good practical effect or two, and this movie serves as a reminder that 3D graphics age the quickest of all. Testament: the drawn-on effects at the end of Highlander still look great, right?

Meanwhile, some terrible side plot with some kid we don't care about is happening, but screw that, it's not important. He's only there for the young'uns to relate to. I can't even remember the kid's name. He convinces the other kids to cease their loud partying and to stop the parents leaping to their doom. Seriously, would it hurt anybody to use the word "die"?

The Power Rangers save the day by kneeing Ivan Ooze in the testicles. Well, that's not what finishes him off. The comet that just happens to be passing by does that, but they get him in the path of the comet with a critically timed knock to the nads. Finishing off Ooze undoes the spell cast on the adults. Boo!

The Rangers return to Zordon, and by holding hands and crying, along with a particularly painful yet wonderful performance by Amy Jo, Zordon recovers his energy, and Angel Grove is saved! And not even all of the bearded ladies in the world could draw me away from this film. For all its faults, I truly love it.

It is comprised of completely original material, not a single clip is used from either the Power Rangers show or whatever Sentai show that it was based on. Despite being all original material, the movie still borrows ideas from other Sentai shows, serving as the inspiration for Phaedos and the Ninjetti outfits.

I have an outrageous love for this movie, and I don't think it is wholly relatable to my nostalgia, watching it in the cinema as a kid with a bag of pick'n'mix. No, it's because the movie still stands on its own for sure. A remarkable depth and quality of writing and humour, with those cheesy moments I live for in film. Bittersweet memories only carry this movie so far; genuine talent and attention to detail takes it further.

While those unfamiliar with the franchise might have no clue what's going on as a whole, I think those with any interest in people dressing up in suits and fighting monsters are really going to enjoy this movie whether they follow the Mighty Dancin' Prancing Rangers or not. This is the most natural that the transference of Power Rangers from TV to film could be, in an almost perfectly paced film. The choreography, between those of the main cast and the 'Ranger actor' stunt doubles, is truly splendid. Those suits weighed a ton, and they made 'em look like they were made of feathers.

This is a package where everybody involved knew they were making something great and didn't hold back. Between Paul Freeman hamming it up, and the sincere indecipherable weepings of Amy Jo, the acting is flawless. I would change nothing.

The moral of the story? I don't know. If all else fails, knee your enemies in the passion pit?


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