Revisiting Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie
By: Willden Doherty (@Willden)
When Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie was released in 1995, it was during the apex of the television series on which is was based. Power Rangers was a cultural phenomenon that still even continues to this day. To celebrate the release of the new Power Rangers reboot, it’s time to look back at the first movie.
The film’s story is not something to take seriously. It is goofy, dumb, and filled with action. It successfully captures the spirit of the original series, but add an updated look. If you really pay attention to the story, you will find that most of it doesn’t make any sense. The film isn’t canon to the original series, although the cast from the show is the same. All the acting was serviceable to carry the story forward. The standout, though, is Paul Freeman as Ivan Ooze. He does a great job of being very campy, but also feel very menacing. You buy into him being one of the most powerful beings alive as he is able to destroy Zordon without much effort and thus is now remembered as one of the top villains along with Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa. Having Zordon die does bring some weight upon the audience who has watched him on television.
The main story focuses on the Rangers getting new powers after having lost their old ones. It takes them to a new land where they have to fight ancient beasts to prove themselves. A secondary storyline surrounds the parents being manipulated to help Ooze power up his two main destroyers. A kid is at the center as he gathers all the children of Angel Grove to save their parents. The way Ivan Ooze is defeated has become memorable among fans. It is out of place from what the Power Rangers usually do, but seeing him getting kicked into a comet never gets old.
This film is a mixed bag between some great visuals and really bad ones. Most of the scenes are practical, with the fighting being reminiscent of the show. Overall, it feels like a bigger production because this is the first time everything was filmed in America. On the show, the actions scenes were taken from the original show from Japan with American storylines added. This time, there was no previous footage used, so the looks of the characters were more updated. The Ranger costumes look better, with more added details and abilities. Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd look the same to their counterparts on the show, but it works. Ivan Ooze has a distinct and memorable look that would have only worked in the film. Some of the set pieces are lit darker to bring a more adult feel.
The fighting had its good and bad moments. There are a lot of cool kicks and flips that are more stylized. The wire work, however, is very noticeable and can take you out of the moment. One scene with a skeletal dinosaur is very goofy to watch. The CG in this film does not hold up at all. It’s a shame, because the entire third act uses CG for the Zords and monsters. It really does take away from what was probably an awesome action sequence at the time.
If you have never seen Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie, you can skip it. This not a good film overall as it is made more for kids than adults. Only those who were already Power Rangers fans will find some of the redeeming qualities. There is just enough heart and spirit that makes this film watchable. Let’s hope that the new movie reboot will be able to capture the spirit of what makes the Power Rangers series so great.