For the benefit of those who tuned in late, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are six teenage martial artists who moonlight as superheroes when they’re not attending high school in Angel Grove, U.S.A. Each has a color-coded uniform and “Zord,” a mystically powered, animal-shaped attack vehicle. And each is tenaciously loyal to the Power Ranger mentor, Zordon, a ghostly figure who usually appears as an oversize floating head.
A 20th Century Fox release of a Saban Entertainment/Toei Co. production. Produced by Haim Saban, Shuki Levy, Suzanne Todd. Co-producer, David Coatsworth. Directed by Bryan Spicer. Screenplay, Arne Olsen, from a story by Olsen, John Kamps. Camera (Deluxe color), Paul Murphy; editor, Wayne Wahrman; music, Graeme Revell; production design, Craig Stearns; art direction, Colin Gibson; costumes, Joseph Porro; sound (Dolby), Bob Clayton; stunt coordinator, Rocky McDonald; special effects supervisor, Tad Pride; special effects coordinator, Steve Courtley; visual effects supervisor, Erik Henry; visual effects coordinator, Steve Dellerson; visual effects by VIFX; assistant director, Steve Love; second unit director, Gary Hymes. Reviewed at AMC Meyer Park 14 Theatre, Houston, June 22, 1995. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 95 min. Aisha/Yellow Ranger … Karan Ashley Adam/Black Ranger … Johnny Yong Bosch Rocky/Red Ranger … Steve Cardenas Tommy/White Ranger … Jason David Frank Kimberly/Pink Ranger … Amy Jo Johnson Billy/Blue Ranger … David Yost Bulk … Paul Schrier Skull … Jason Narvy Ivan Ooze … Paul Freeman Dulcea … Gabrielle Fitzpatrick Zordon … Nicholas Bell Alpha 5 … Peta-Maree Rixon Mordant … Jean Paul Bell Goldar … Kerry Casey Lord Zedd … Mark Ginther Rita Repulsa … Julia Cortez Fred Kelman … Jamie Croft Morphin” mania appears to have cooled somewhat during the past year, as the novelty of the campy “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” TV series has begun to wear off. But “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie” may have the right stuff to make the franchise a hot property all over again. Sci-fi adventure pic is much slicker than its small-screen counterpart, and should please the millions of youngsters who remain addicted to the series.
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Individually, each Power Ranger can kick more butt than a dozen Ninja Turtles (inspiring no small measure of parental complaint about the cartoonish but incessant fighting on the TV series). Together, when they unite their Zords into a single, gigantic battle robot, they are able to knock over cheap-looking model buildings while tangling with the most unconvincing rubber bogeymen this side of a Godzilla epic.
Actually, most of the battle scenes — and the rubber bogeymen — are lifted intact from a Japanese-produced TV series, giving the TV show an undeniably amusing air of low-rent tackiness. How much of this is appreciated by impressionable children who watch the series is anybody’s guess.
The special effects are a great deal more special in “Power Rangers: The Movie.” Pic was shot in Australia, but the setting remains in the USA. The Rangers have been given flashier new Zords and are pitted against opponents who actually appear capable of causing serious harm. The high point is a battle between the Rangers and two huge, brightly metallic insect creatures that trash downtown Angel Grove. Nothing nearly so elaborate has been shown on the TV series, and that may be more than enough to entice young fans into seeing the pic several times.
On just about every other level however, the 95-minute pic plays like an elongated version of a 30-minute TV episode. Screenwriter Arne Olsen’s dialogue is as corny as Kansas in August. The photogenic young actors, who repeat their TV roles as Power Rangers, are, well, sincere. And that helps. A little. But it’s not always easy to tell them apart, as only Jason David Frank (as Tommy, the White Ranger) and Amy Jo Johnson (Kimberly, the Pink Ranger) make any sort of distinctive impression.
Under the energetic but undistinguished direction of Bryan Spicer, “Power Rangers: The Movie” is noisy and busy enough for audiences with very short attention spans. The plot involves the accidental unearthing of Ivan Ooze (Paul Freeman), a centuries-old villain who’s bent on crushing Zordon (Nicholas Bell) and ruling the world. With the help of foot soldiers who explode into mucous-like goo when they’re crushed, Ivan manages to wreck Zordon’s inner sanctum and nearly kills the Power Ranger mentor.
In order to revive Zordon and save Angel Grove from Ivan’s plot to turn all the grown-ups into zombie slaves, the Rangers journey to a distant planet where a mysterious power source is hidden. Once they arrive there, they are aided by Dulcea (Gabrielle Fitzpatrick), a warrior woman who wears what appears to be a Stone Age version of a string bikini.
There is plenty of slam-bang action here, but no genuine bloodshed. Credit the special-effects crews and the costume designers for making the Rangers and their Zords almost as impressive as Batman and his Batmobile. And credit Spicer with keeping the violence mild enough to mollify most of the TV show’s critics.
Some of the dialogue is difficult to hear over the din of the explosions and the hard-rock musical score. Fortunately, actions speak louder, and more eloquently, than words throughout “Power Rangers: The Movie.”