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MOVIE REVIEW:Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie
I went through a very bleak period of almost total isolation for about
eleven years. The bright spots during those eleven years and the only
ones that influenced me in any long-term fashion were 1. vacations with
my extended family, 2. Calvin and Hobbes and 3. Power Rangers. I
suppose this last just goes to show the mind-numbing and escapist
nature of television and in particular its stifling effect on
children's creativity (and that of other things in American culture,
but to reveal this would be to betray a part of my childhood that I
would love to amputate). All the same, when I lost interest in the
show, working on the unrealized potential of the characters in
unpublishable stories in scrapbooks helped me to start down the long
road to mental recovery. (I have since burned all those stories, as
good as I esteem some of them to have been, as a means of soul
However, this is not a review of the TV show, but of the movie.
Interestingly, I saw this movie with my grandmother on one of those
lovely aforementioned vacations, and so it is a memory that nicely
synthesizes many of the high points (as I saw them at the time) of my
childhood from ages 8 through 18. That is not to say that I would
choose to see this again, but it carries positive connotations of a
lovely ambiance. The three-day road trip on down to my grandparents'
house (my parents absent), my ever-energetic grandmother (still strong
and upbeat at age 80 despite deteriorating kidney health!) those cool
fast food toys, the shiny metallic uniforms, et c. ad infinitum were
just unbeatable to an idiotic 10-year-old.
Although the teenagers on the show are supposed to be high school
students (who almost never do homework yet seem nevertheless to remain
in the good graces of their teachers–and actually, this is not
unrealistic for contemporary American high school), the school is
absent from the Angel Grove of this film, which looks eerily like
Sydney, Australia (because, of course, that is where it was filmed).
The snippets of their personal lives–which serve no purpose except to
open up a "rock and roll!" ambiance–look very much like a child's or
teenager's dream vacation, and I suppose that was fitting for a movie
coming out in summertime. So much the better for children to relate to!
The characters, though, are a real disappointment, even for Power
Rangers. The little quirks we saw on the show–Kimberly's prima dona
valley girl act that melts in the face of a real challenge to reveal a
thoroughly beautiful person, Tommy's fierce sense of dedication
thwarted by a severe lack of punctuality, Billy's incomprehensible
genius–are all gone here, probably because the traces they left in the
original script just totally overwhelmed the total blandness of their
new teammates Rocky, Adam and Aisha and stole the film away from these
latter three. A very tight, personality-driven team of six teenagers is
a ripe opportunity for exploitation and doesn't have to dumb down the
poor children mesmerized by the flashing colors, but the halfhearted
and uneven exploitation seen on the show is nowhere to be found here.
The actors do not have a good reputation, but on the show, at least
Jason Frank, David Yost and Amy Jo Johnson (along with their original
three counterparts) shone brilliantly whenever they got the chance to
show some character.
Saban Entertainment was of course notoriously cheap: given that the TV
show pulled ratings of 11.0, it was rather pathetic that they couldn't
have plunked some capital into keeping around the talent they had and
developing the characters into something meaningful. "Mighty Morphin
Power Rangers: the Movie" was really their comeuppance, though: I
understand the film grossed only 38 million out of a projected 125
million in the United States–and this for the most popular children's
franchise in America for the time! Compare with the Ninja Turtles movie
from just a few years earlier–and with a similar budget!
On that note, the interesting thing is that the movie is not,
production-wise, cheap. For 1995, the special effects and the Zord
scenes work quite well, and the planet Phaedos is a real eye-feast. The
fight scenes are satisfying, as fight scenes go. The updated costumes
are awful to look at but definitely more believable as protective
armor. Given all this, could they really have been in the impossibility
of finding a scriptwriter to inject just a bit more into this? The
original script was, as I understand, better but unproducable… the
final one looks like it needs about eight rewrites.
Anyone presently over the age of 45–one of those who wailed and moaned
about having to put up with these color-coded spandex-clad space-ade
superheroes–will doubtless not be surprised at the negative aspects
outlined in this review. Doubtless they will also be wondering why on
Earth I gave this thing such a high rating. Frankly, fellow humans, it
is simply this: while you can resign yourself to amputate a gangrenous
leg, you cannot help but enjoy the memories of having had it and
regretting the necessity of having it cut off. I watched Power Rangers.
I went to see the movie. I had a great time doing both, and the movie
was seen in the context of real, lasting, good memories of very special
people. I will not allow my children to see this (moreover, at age 25 I
no longer have a TV set) and I have no desire to relive it, but there
it was, a little forgotten part of me that I smile at from time to
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Power Rangers is nothing more than the usual childish nonsense that
someone decided to bring to the United States.
First of all the television show has absolutely nothing positive to
offer rather than the usual kiddie nonsense. Stupid characters with
cheesy costumes use fighting to solve their problems.
Then they decided to make an even worse film that is among the worst
films of all time.
Six characters, all with cheesy costumes, bad haircuts, earrings, make
up, and lack of intelligence use their martial arts to fight stunt
doubles to entertain people.
Power Rangers, is definitely the worst television show and movie of all
time, Keep your children away from this nonsense!
Side by side, the old Power Rangers show and the movie that came in the
middle of it are pretty different. While the movie was written like an
extended episode of the TV show, it's saved by better production values
and good editing.
Here's an example as far as production value – the Command Center in
the TV show, if you remember, was a black curtain with Christmas lights
hung around to fill it up. Zordon was a 2-second video clip that was
looped to look like he was talking. In the movie, the Command Center is
a huge room of patterned metal walls and blinking computer panels.
Zordon, in the movie, is an actual actor in makeup, green-screened so
his head is floating in the air.
And the editing – the main characters always perform these
over-the-top, often wire assisted martial arts, but in the movie these
moves are cut just long enough to be ridiculous, and accompanied by
humorous sound effects.
The main characters are as useless as ever, and really it's the
villains like Paul Freeman who steal the show, but if you grew up on
Power Rangers and are looking for a trip down memory lane, look to the
movie for some kicks.
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