MAD: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie
(1995 Fox/Watched on DVD)
Five go mad on Ooze Island.
I was a few years too old to enjoy Power Rangers, and I suspect it will be a property that always passes me by. I’m in an awkward generation (for those that subscribe to this categorisation of eras); slightly too young for Generation X and slightly too old to be a millennial. If effect, I am exemplary of why these pigeonholes aren’t very accurate for defining a person.
So before the Man of Steely new movie comes out I figured I would take a dive into the first movie, one made at the peak of their popularity and presumably an accurate slice of what that show was back then (whether it is now or not).
It’s quite something to watch. Unutterably earnest, cheap, flimsy and colourful, with these empty, pretty little people rollerblading their way through, on a mission to save the world from cackling, cartoonish, gloating evil. It isn’t actually a million miles from wrestling, the faces have always been less entertaining than the heels, but their defining characteristics seem to be leader, slightly smarter… *used to be the leader?*… I’m out.
The mid 90s, especially within children’s movies, was a time of backwards baseball caps and big scale threats like the world being destroyed or enslaved that never felt even the tiniest bit likely to have any lasting consequences.
My favourite ranger is Tommy, the rakish fellow with the ponytail, whose sole duty is to tell everyone they have to “Go over there now”. Seriously, watch this delightfully daft puff piece of a movie and count the times the rangers are in close proximity with a place and need to be prompted by Tommy to shift themselves a few feet further. That’s leadership skills in action, folks. Also their every action, pointing, gesturing, looking to the side is accompanied by a Kung fu swish sound effect, which must get… annoying?
I also liked Teela, this kickass, staff-wielding sorceress they meet who gives them all squeaky clean new ninja outfits (which remain spotless and freshly laundered after a jungle trek so you know they’re magic), calls the blue ranger an ape and then uses the old “I can go this far and no further” line, to get out of babysitting their helpless arses any further.
Ivan Ooze, played here by Belloq from Raiders, is having the time of his life with a plan that appeared to be:
Step 1: Recruit kids in a local park by handing out jars of your own ooze. (Luckily there are no adults or police around, and it’s 1995, the main worry of parents is violent video games, so you’re good to go)
Step 2: Mass manufacture said ooze in a bottling factory (Though how he managed the overheads, the graphic design, sourcing materials and distribution channels, what with being a purple man who looks like he might be a larger version of something very expensive from a VERY specialised website, and thus inefficient at brokering industrial working relationships… is never gone into).
Step 3: Apropos of nothing, abandon steps 1 & 2 and compel all the parents to fling themselves into a quarry, like a pack of lemmings (Could be filmed very cheaply in a quarry).
Rita Repulsor makes a brief appearance before being trapped in a snow globe with a bloke in armour that makes it look like he has no skin. I take it this would be like Thanos imprisoning Loki and Red Skull in a phone booth (their ordeal would be a potentially better movie than this). I realised in seconds that the actress playing Rita’s body, if not voice, Julia Cortez, was the talented lady from The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, able to launch ping pong balls from her nether regions clear across crowded pubs. Once that exotic image gets in to your head and is twinned with the idea of towering, MegaZords fighting giant alien greeblies you can’t get it out. And I’m afraid the gargantuan, yet sleazy Lovecraftian monstrosity *Pongor* would have been the form chosen for Gozer, had I been there on that roof in New York.
At the end Ivan turns into something out of Beast Wars, so minimally rendered it may in fact be just one big polygon, and blue ranger, without a hint of registering how silly these words truly sound when spoken out loud, says the following line
“I’ll set a course for outer space”.
They go up.
They blow Ooze to smithereens.
Then they return to the city and celebrate with “The Power” by Snap followed by Trouble by Shampoo. And if that doesn’t make you want to throw on your hi tops (with the air pump in the tongue) and oversized Global Hypercolour tee, nothing will.