Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers the Movie: Overview

This is a post I really didn't want to make. I already watched Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie in 20 minute chunks for a month. I spent so much time on it already, but I never came to an absolute conclusion on my main thesis.

Is this movie any good?

I'm really torn on it, and I'm going to find my answer as I write this. The one rule I've given myself about this piece of writing is I need to give a definitive answer at the end. Is this movie worth watching or not? I refuse to conclude this piece by giving some wishy-washy "well it's kinda good and kinda bad" answer. I promise to you lovely readers that I'm going to come to a definitive conclusion at the end of this write-up.

This post would have probably been more useful a month ago before I implied you should watch this film with me. Oops! At least now you can instruct future generations as to whether or not they should partake in this cinematic masterpiece. Strap in everyone, let's dissect this movie one last time.

What Worked

I'm not going to bullshit everyone and act like this movie was some complete piece of trash that failed at everything it set out to do. As pithy as I tend to be, this movie had a lot of material that surprised me. The main focus of what this film did right can be summed up in two words: Ivan Ooze.

Paul Freeman is unquestionably the high point of this film. Throughout every single scene, I was left wanting more of his hammy delivery. You can tell that Freeman was allowed to have as much fun with the role as he wanted, and he capitalized on the opportunity by taking a bite out of the scenery every chance he got.

For the most part, Power Rangers relies on a pretty lame "yuk-yuk" brand of humor. Corny bullshit that doesn't garner even the slightest smirk when brought into the cold light of day. Ivan Ooze circumvents all that nonsense and brings a much more enjoyable flavor of humor to this movie. Even the lines he has that end up as total clunkers are carried by Paul Freeman's capable hands. Freeman manages to elevate all of the material that he's given and completely dominate the screen. Even in a movie where he dressed up as a purple space cum-warlock, Freeman managed to come out clean.

This concludes the positives I have with regards to this movie's actors.

But this movie clearly put its budget somewhere other than actors. Just about every cent that was spent on this movie was clearly put into the sets and the creature designs.

The Oozemen might have looked a little silly, but I think their design looks pretty good all things considered. As much as I dumped on the fight with the Gatekeepers for being boring, I still really liked their designs. But the top of the pack in terms of creature design has to go to the Tengu. I don't know why the hell they're birds, but I absolutely adore how they look. Not bad for a bunch of oversized crows.

Not to mention the re-design of Lord Zedd. It looks particularly sharp for something that wasn't in the movie for more than 10 minutes. His constantly pulsating brain, his metallic rictus grin, his ridiculous muscle suit. It was all awesome. I'm iffy on Goldar and Rita's redesigns, but Zedd's makes up for the both of them. Lord Zedd's redesign is so good, and I'm really disappointed it didn't make its way onto the series at some point. Instead it's probably sitting in some Aussie's dumpster.

Something I didn't take much time to discuss was the new look of the Command Center in this movie. While the Command Center in the T.V. series is clearly a really cheap room that's supposed to look gigantic, the movie does an excellent job at portraying an amazing, magical chamber of command. The production crew spared no expense in making a solid-looking hub for Zordon and Alpha. It's easily the best set in this entire movie. Almost made me want to spend more time with Zordon, regardless of the nightmares he'd give me.

I want to take a moment to express how much I enjoyed the fight with the Oozemen in retrospect. The fight ended in a really dumb way, but I enjoyed the monsters getting finished off by slamming into walls and turning into fountains of purple snot. I also enjoyed the unmorphed battle against the Oozemen. I don't know why, but it felt significantly more engaging than the battle with the Gatekeepers of Phaedos.

And let's not forget this movie had an actual soundtrack behind it. Music from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Devo, They Might Be Giants, and Van Halen? In a fucking Power Rangers movie? That's astonishing. One of the most memorable songs on the soundtrack is "Trouble" by the English pop duo Shampoo. I can't explain how this thing has planted itself in my subconscious for so long but it's been in there since 1995. It's a song that can transport you back in time and put you at ease. It's a song to remind you that the 90's still exist in our hearts so long as we believe.

But that's about all I have to say in terms of what was good about this movie. Because we have a whole lot of things in this movie that really sucked on ice.

What Didn't

When I go to a movie about the Power Rangers, I typically expect to see some sort of Power Rangers. Well why don't we enjoy our heroes being in costume for a grand total of like twenty minutes in this hundred minute mess? They lose their powers half an hour in, and spend the majority of the movie walking around a tedious planet where dinosaur bones yell at them.

This is another big problem I have with this film. The sequences on Phaedos were a complete and utter waste of time. The Tengu attack almost seems like it should be important, but then they run away and get murdered back on Earth. So what was point was there in including them in the movie? The heroes don't even defeat them! Dulcea scares them off and then Ivan deep fries those turkeys. Instead of having the Rangers improve their skills and battle the Tengu again, they run into another two unrelated creatures that they have to fight.

Out of curiosity, do you lovely readers think the Tengu coming back and being defeated by the Rangers would be a good idea? Me too! You know who else thought so? Whoever wrote the first draft of this screenplay.

Originally, Ivan was supposed to form a Queen Tengu to assist the Tengu Warriors against the Power Rangers. For whatever reason, this idea was scrapped during production and the Tengu were probably only used because they'd already paid for the suits. I'm assuming that the Gatekeeper fight wasn't originally in the first draft of the script, and it's only present now to make up for the Tengu Queen subplot being axed. Someone feel free to correct me, but I'd be astounded if this movie thought it could do three back to back fight scenes in the span of 20 minutes without inducing parental suicide.

This would be a good time to mention that this movie is an absolute goddamned paradox. At times I was livid at how bloated this movie felt with all sorts of things that didn't matter (Fred, Dulcea, Ivan dressed as a wizard), but then I would also become incensed with how little was actually happening.

The Rangers fight a Triceratops skeleton for 7 minutes and…yeah? Are they using new skills they acquired from their ninjetti animals? No. Tommy bails them out as per usual. Then the Rangers fight the Gatekeeper monsters and the same thing happens. They dick around the jungle before killing them in various ways. It doesn't seem like anything they needed those ninjamas for at all. They didn't learn shit throughout this journey. Some lady in an armor bikini told them to go find new toys and then the movie could be over.

Speaking of Dulcea, she is clearly only in this movie to take a big exposition dump on the audience and then disappear for absolutely no reason.

Dulcea was apparently supposed to matter in the initial drafts of this script, but then the actress they hired wasn't delivering the material the way they wanted so they had to replace her. Imagine delivering your lines so badly that you were kicked out of the Power Rangers franchise. Well because of that, a lot of the original ideas for Dulcea had to be scrapped, and the new actress clearly filmed her scenes in the span of a day. There were a number of behind the scenes problems during the filming of this movie, and Dulcea's half-assed inclusion hints at an awful lot of them.

But Dulcea being in the movie isn't as big of a problem as what wasn't in the movie. Where in the blue hell were Bulk and Skull?

I'm sorry, but I am not okay with this movie trying to bookend itself with Bulk and Skull. You're telling me that with all the fight scenes on Phaedos, we couldn't have one goddamn scene of these two falling into a cake being served to the mayor? Why even have them in this movie if they show up once in the first 10 minutes and then sort of kind of don't really save the day at the end? Why were you guys even here?

And why the fuck was that Fred kid here at all? I want to slap him in the back of his head. Not to mention that everything regarding this kid feels like it was haphazardly stapled onto this movie. Nothing that he does connects with what the Ranger Teens are doing at all. The scenes with the hypnotized parents have absolutely nothing to do with the Power Rangers' journey. They don't even know that it's happening for god's sake.

Fred absolutely epitomizes the bloat that this movie was carrying around with it. He's a tumor of a character that didn’t belong anywhere in this movie. Why not give the majority of his role to Bulk and Skull? Have them realize something is going wrong and the Power Rangers aren't fixing it, so they can step up and save the day by being a pair of blustering buffoons. Give them the dramatic speech that Fred gives to the kids of Angel Grove and have them prove themselves as genuine (albeit buffoonish) heroes. Maybe that would be fun huh? Ivan Ooze getting thwarted by a couple of bunglers. Man…I'd like that.

Now is the pièce de résistance of what I despised about this movie. The moment when everything came to a dead stop and this movie lost me completely. The Ectomorphicon fight against the Ninjazords was unholy terrible.

I know I already discussed how terrible the computer graphics are during the finale of this movie, but holy fuck do they deserve to be called out again. The final fight is an absolutely atrocious waste of time and it brings any enjoyment you might have found in this film to an end. Even as a kid I remember checking out at this point. I wanted to see two guys in big plastic suits fighting each other on a cheap soundstage. Instead I have to look at the ugliest computer graphics the mid-90's could render for 20 tedious minutes.

Maybe back in 1995 these things looked decent, but I can't comprehend how I can judge them fairly anymore. It got to the point that I felt a genuine sense of guilt when Ivan Ooze first brought his creations to life. I felt embarrassed for the movie because it was doing everything that it could to make threatening looking creatures, and it totally missed the mark. But hey, maybe someone in 1995 loved how these things looked. I don't know.

The final fight with the Ninjazords is when I wanted to turn this movie off. My body started to reject this film completely and I was fed up with it. The only saving grace was when Ivan snuck in a line mocking the Rangers, but those moments were few and far between. The climax of this movie was a total shitshow, and it's one of the big reasons that I've come to the conclusion that this movie simply isn't worth your time.

As much as it pains me to say it, I can't recommend this film. I love Ivan Ooze so much, but he's only in this thing for so long. Any scene without him invariably focuses on characters that you can't possibly care about. The moment that Ooze isn't hamming it up, we have to listen to the Rangers making obnoxious jokes about Jurassic Park or calling dinosaur skeletons "bonehead." I didn't want to come to this conclusion, but man this movie really missed the mark.

The only thing that kept me going was having you goofballs watching it along with me. Thank you.


  1. Only use mordant has is he would be a sure fire pointless answer to win money on UK gameshow pointless when they ask you to name a power rangers villain 100 people would not say.

  2. Yeah the end of the film was the pits. Also no ranger fight after they get there powers back too.

    They should of kept the suits and costumes for use in the tv show. Up date Zedds look. Give the rangers better looking costumes in season 3.

    They could of used mordant a monster of the week so we can have a satisfaction of watching him getting blowen up but nope nothing good came from the movie.... or maybe one thing did. The new replacement for the putties.

  3. Agree with you. I would hardly recommend the movie to anyone else, and my "remember when you were a kid and this was The Best Thing Ever" is pretty much what carried me through the CGI. Plus me being a completionist about rewatches. But, damn, Paul Freeman was an absolute delight.