Sunday, March 26, 2017

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995)

This weekend saw the release of a new Power Rangers movie.  It was a reboot of the beloved (in my case) television show from the 1990s that continues to air new episodes.  It took elements from a few different seasons and iterations of the show, but was mostly taking from the first three seasons.  For what it’s worth, this reboot isn’t completely bad.  There are some good things and it is really watchable.  It’s not good, yet I want to watch it again.

I’m not here to write about the reboot though.  This post is about the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie from 1995.  It was a movie based on the television show with the main actors reprising their roles, yet it wasn’t in canon to the show’s adventures.  Why this decision was made, I will never fully know.  The third season covered some of the same ground as the movie, particularly in giving the Power Rangers their new ninja powers.

Since I’m writing this post on Saturday night, the day before it goes up, I’m going to keep things simple and just write about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie.  The points that I make will come through quotes pulled directly from the characters’ mouths.  The dialogue was a perfect encapsulation of how off the rails the movie was, and that’s coming from a show that was already ridiculous.

“Oh the things I have missed: the Black Plague, the Spanish Inquisition, the Brady Bunch Reunion.” – Ivan Ooze
This was the one line of dialogue in the movie that bothered me the most.  Ivan Ooze said lines like this throughout the entire movie.  His cheesy joke lines ended up being more groan inducing than anything.  He didn’t have a threatening manner of speaking.  Rather than be a menacing presence and using his words to scare people, he made pop culture references that were unbefitting of the character.  The worst was this Brady Bunch reference.

The problem with saying that he missed the Brady Bunch Reunion was that Ivan Ooze had been away from freedom for around 6000 years.  He mentioned this at a later point in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie.  During that 6000 years, The Brady Bunch had been a television show.  You probably know that already.  Anyway, he would have missed the show as well as the reunion.  And if he missed the show, why would he care about missing the reunion?  He would have no idea what the significance of the Brady Bunch reunion was.  The show gets named dropped for a cheap laugh, but there was no point of reference in which the character could know it.

“I’m a frog.” – Adam Park
You might think that this quote is important simply because Adam was given his ninja powers and he gained the power of the frog.  To an extent, that is true.  He did get powers, and the frog Zord came with those powers.  But that wasn’t all that the quote was.  There was some deeper meaning.  It was more than a statement.

It seemed as though the line was a subtle reference to Reservoir Dogs.  It was the scene where everyone got their colour names, only in this case, they were getting animals.  Adam ended up being the one person who complained because they didn’t like what they got.  Instead of being Mr. Pink or Mr. Brown, he was a frog.  Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie was filled with pop culture references, both obvious and slightly subtle.  The show was never like that.

“You ooze, you lose.” – Billy Cranston
Another aspect of the movie that wasn’t as apparent in the television show was the use of one liners.  The show had  memorable lines, even going so far as to have an entire episode devoted to rap battling a walking jack-o-lantern, but it focused more on the fights than the dialogue within them.

The difference between Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie might be due to their inspirations.  The television show was greatly influenced by the Japanese show that it took footage from.  The American fights were made to fit with that aesthetic.  The poses, the punches and kicks, they all felt reminiscent of martial arts films.  The movie, however, seemed influenced by Americanized martial arts as well as 1980s action movies.  That is where the one liners come from.  With stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone spouting off one liners, the Power Rangers were written to fit that mold.

“One step beyond this plateau and I would begin to age as rapidly as Zordon is now.” – Dulcea
Also right out of an American film was Dulcea, a warrior woman from a distant land, showing some skin while giving the Power Rangers their new ninja powers.  Because this was Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, she obviously had some sort of power going on within her.  That power would cause rapid aging if she left a plateau.

The only problem with that statement was that her introduction was off of the plateau.  The Power Rangers were losing a fight and she came off of the plateau to help them.  If she were to age as rapidly as Zordon, she would have been a senior citizen by the time she got them to the plateau.  She wouldn’t have been the attractive woman she was.

“What is that odious stench? Smells like teenagers.” – Ivan Ooze
He had to be talking about body odor here, right?  If it weren’t for plain old stinky b.o., teenagers wouldn’t have a specific smell.  They would smell like deodorant.  The thing is, pretty much anyone who has gone through puberty in their lives slaps a stick under their armpits to alleviate the smell.  These teens would have been more likely to smell like Speed Stick than anything.  How could he know they were teenagers?

Also, Ivan Ooze had been away for 6000 years.  Teenagers weren’t really a thing when he was around before.  It was child or adult.  There wasn’t this awkward in between stage that we have.  Sure, people still hit those years, but they had to do the work of adults at that point.  Ivan Ooze would be smelling a whole new type of being in teenagers.  He wouldn’t know them by name and smell.

That sums up Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie but doesn’t do the movie justice.  It truly is the Batman and Robin of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers franchise.  It’s cheesy and campy but tries too hard to be cool at the same time.  All that ends up happening is that the movie becomes a watchable mess.

The watchable mess could also be an apt description for the new Power Rangers movie, but in a different way.  It had tonal shifts all over the place from a Breakfast Club inspired group of heroes to a Transformers style of humour to some weird horrific moments.  Yet it’s a movie that I’m definitely going to watch again.

As dumb as the Power Rangers franchise is, I’m always brought back to it.  Something keeps me interested.  I watched it as a child.  I’m watching it as an adult.  I still enjoy the hell out of it.  You might call it bad.  I call it fun.  I call it Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Now for a few notes to round out the post:

  • Batman and Robin was mentioned in this post.
  • Ivan Ooze was played by Paul Freeman, who has been in the Sunday “Bad” Movies a few times before.  He appeared in Aces: Iron Eagle III, Getaway, and Double Team.
  • Richard Steven Horvitz and Paul Pantano were both featured in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie and Son of the Mask.
  • Finally, Nicholas Bell returned to the Sunday “Bad” Movies this week after having already shown up in I, Frankenstein.
  • Have you seen Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie?  Have you seen anything from the Power Rangers franchise?  You can leave comments about any of this stuff below.
  • The comments area is also a good place to let me know about movies that I should watch for future Sunday “Bad” Movies weeks.  If you want to leave a suggestion, leave it there or on my Twitter timeline.
  • Sometimes I share clips of the bad movies I watch on my snapchat story.  Other things pop in there too.  If you want to see any of it, add me.  Jurassicgriffin.
  • Next week isn’t a huge week, but I’ll be watching an Eddie Murphy movie.  If that interests you, be sure to come back here in seven days to see what I have to say about Norbit.  Yes, Norbit.  I haven’t seen it before so this should be interesting.

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