The year was 1994.
It was a fun time for a kid. The SNES and Game Boy were out, the fashion was bright and colorful, and television was full of great shows. But above all else, there was one thing that dominated my childhood: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
My love for Power Rangers is something that’s lasted well into my adult years, and is a topic I’ve written about before. At the time, Power Rangers was my life. I snatched up every bit of merchandise I could find. For years I dressed as the White Ranger for Halloween, and the Red Ranger before that. All my birthday parties had to have a Power Rangers theme. Sure, the show was unbelievably stupid, but it has a campy charm to it that makes it still watchable to this day. And as kids, we all ate it up.
So as you can imagine, I nearly pissed myself when I saw THIS teaser at the local movie theater:
Ho. Lee. Shit. A POWER RANGERS MOVIE. I almost had a heart attack. The excitement of this news completely outshined whatever movie I had gone to see that day, and I know I wasn’t the only one. Power Rangers was HUGE at this point, and really, a movie was hardly surprising.
It felt as though I had been waiting for ages, but Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie was finally released in the summer of 1995. To an obsessed 7-year-old like me, it was the best film ever made. Of course, I’m older now, and considerably more mature. Let’s see how well it holds up.
Before we begin, a bit of information on the film. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie is not canon with the TV series, and features characters and plot elements that never appeared in the show. The movie features the Rangers obtaining their new animal-based Ninja powers, but it’s handled completely differently than in the show. So essentially, the movie is in its own self-contained universe that kind of drops us into the middle of the story.
So the movie begins with the Rangers doing stupid 90’s shit like skydiving and roller blading and having mullets, because…. honestly, I have no idea. Of course, they’re all wearing their appropriate colors. Not suspicious at all. NO ONE WILL EVER GUESS THAT THEY’RE THE POWER RANGERS.
A group of construction workers find what appears to be a giant egg clutched by a badass metal claw. I gotta say, this thing looks awesome. I can only wonder what happened to it after filming… probably went right in the dumpster.
Zordon tells the rangers that the egg is actually a prison for Ivan Ooze, a powerful, evil entity that had been sealed away by Zordon 6000 years ago. He tells them to find the egg before Ivan can be released. It’s worth noting that, rather than using the low-budget set from the TV show, the command center was completely redesigned for the film and looks quite awesome.
Of course, Lord Zedd and company manage to make it to the egg first, and release Ivan Ooze to help them destroy Zordon and the Rangers. Of course, Ivan has quite a bone to pick with Zordon, so he agrees. Also, it’s worth noting that Ivan Ooze is played by none other than Paul Freeman, best remembered as Belloq from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Ivan is probably the best part of the movie. He’s like a cross between Freddy Krueger and Emperor Palpatine, constantly cracking jokes and reveling in his own evil. While most of the other characters are stiff and one-dimensional, Paul Freeman is clearly having a load of fun in this role. Ivan is just an incredibly fun, memorable villain, and is a big part of what makes the movie so watchable today.
So the Rangers are too late, and end up having to fight Ivan’s Ooze soldiers. The Ranger suits look awesome, far from the simple spandex outfits they wore in the show. The suits are more detailed and a bit bulkier, without impairing mobility. Also, the Rangers have some new abilities that were never in the show: the Red Ranger has a heat-seeking visor, and the Yellow Ranger has light-up eyes. The Blue and Pink Rangers also have a grappling hook and whip, respectively.
While the Rangers are preoccupied, Ivan Ooze attacks and trashes the Command Center, destroying the tube that keeps Zordon alive. This also causes the Rangers to lose their powers, which are apparently tied to the command center for some reason. Zordon sends the Rangers to the planet Phaedos, telling them that they can seek out a greater power there. This seems like it may have been a good thing to tell them about beforehand, but whatever.
So the Rangers go to Phaedos, and man are they lucky there’s oxygen there. They’re attacked by Ivan Ooze’s Tengoo minions (who also appeared in the show), and are promptly rescued by a hot warrior chick named Dulcea. After hearing Zordon sent them, she helps them discover their animal spirits, which apparently turn them all into ninja.
Meanwhile, Ivan Ooze traps Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa in a snowglobe so he can take over the world himself. He disguises himself as a flaming homosexual and then proceeds to give his ooze to all the town’s children. Why? More on that in a bit.
Pandora Phaedos, The Rangers proceed to do dumb 90’s fantasy shit like fight skeleton monsters and stone guardians. Finally, they make it to an ancient monolith, which completely restores their powers and gives them new Zords for some reason. Also, despite now drawing their abilities from animal spirits, they still keep their dinosaur-themed outfits. I could also point out how strange it is for an alien planet to bestow powers based on Earth creatures, but then I’d just be nitpicking.
So remember when Ivan gave all the children his ooze? Apparently he foresaw that every parent in the city would end up touching the ooze, brainwashing them and making them his slaves. Of course, it’s already been established by this point that Ivan Ooze is incredibly powerful and can create his own minions anyway, but hey, I’m sure this plan is way better. Ivan has the parents dig up his Ectomorphicon Titans, powerful machines that had been buried alongside him instead of destroyed for some reason.
The Rangers make it back to Earth and, with their new Zords, battle the titans. One cool thing they did is actually have the Rangers use their Zords on their own… in the show, the Zords were usually immediately combined into the Megazord, raising the question of why there were separate Zords in the first place. Here, each Zord gets its chance to shine. Sadly, the CGI is fucking atrocious, even by 1994 standards.
After the first Ectomorphicon is defeated, Ivan Ooze merges with the second to become a CGI monstrosity, and the Rangers form the Megazord. Like I said, the CGI is terrible, so it’s a big shame that the movie’s finale is almost entirely computer-generated.
Finally, the Rangers go back to the Command Center and hold hands, which magically restores everything and brings Zordon back to life because magic. And that’s pretty much it. Evil has been vanquished and all is well once again.
Now, it may seem like I was being very critical, but I have to admit: I love this movie. Sure, it’s stupid… incredibly stupid. The plot is nonsensical, the acting is hokey, and the special effects are godawful. But still, for all its flaws, the movie is just so nostalgic and fun to watch. Granted, if I weren’t such a huge fan of Power Rangers, I may have been a lot less kind towards it. You should give it a watch, if for no other reason than Ivan Ooze.
And Tommy Oliver’s mullet.