Monday, October 20, 2014

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie

  I can't hold back the five year old kid inside me whenever someone mentions Power Rangers. I want to do an epic slow motion back-flip complete with the trademark "HI-YAH!" but alas, nobody is going to cue theme music for my embarrassing misfire of a flip. These color coded teens on the other hand, they still got it. The history of the Power Rangers franchise is a very interesting one. It originated in japan under a different name entirely. The hit kids TV show of 1993, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was in fact spliced together from an altogether different show called Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger. The show had a very different story, different characters, and a different tone. In America, they mined usable footage and assembled a new cast to film new stories and plots. Thus Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was born. I'm skipping a few details here and there, but I'm getting to a point...

  Part of the appeal of the show, in retrospect, was the cheesiness of it. It's very hard to take brightly colored guys in spandex fighting big hokey looking rubber monsters seriously. Yet... it had that trademark Japanese craziness to it and somehow it just worked. It was great. It defined many an afternoon of my childhood. Imagine my wide eyed surprise as a little brat when I finally discovered they made a Power Rangers movie. This was big leagues stuff. The rangers no longer wore the shiny spandex suits. They had armor! Hollywood crafted Lycra armor, but still. This stuff was serious business! There was a big movie with the Power Rangers, they had legitimate outfits, a new villain, new zords, and tons of new special effects! What's not to love? As a kid this movie was without flaw.
I loved every line (and probably knew them by heart too) and every silly fight scene.

  Now that I'm older, obviously it holds a special place in my heart... but I realized something at some point. This was an American movie. No Japanese footage at all. This movie had nothing from the show's Japanese counterpart. Watching it now... I think part of the appeal inherent to Power Rangers is absent from this movie. It's a piece of nostalgia in it's own right, but it's not the same as watching the show. For one, the fight choreography (after they're morphed) isn't as good, and the crazy hokey aspect is gone. The movie tries to be taken as seriously as possible. Even going to far as to cutting franchise mainstays (and comic relief) Bulk and Skill down to just a minuscule handful of scenes. Not that I'm complaining about that. Those two were never above groan worthy. Yet if they had been entirely absent... I would've had to complain about it. It's not Mighty Morphin Power Rangers until Bulk and Skull make asses out of themselves.

  Alas, you have to meet this movie on it's level. It is a kid's movie. For better or worse, despite all the "serious business" it's still not meant to be taken all that serious. It functions as well as can be expected without the charm of the Japanese footage. Your enjoyment of the movie will hinge on how much you like the cast of Rangers and how much you dig those Lycra armor suits. The floppy rubber monster suits are gone, the ridiculous mini-Tokyo looking cityscapes are gone, the spontaneous explosions behind the Rangers are gone, and I mean... I could go on. This movie from the ground up is American. You're either cool with that, or you're just... not. I think I am. I accept it at the very least. I don't think there's any situation in which I couldn't accept it, seeing as how it was such a gigantic part of my childhood.

  It should go without saying that objectively, this movie is bad. Really bad. The story barely holds itself together, the dialog is frequently flat and ridiculous, and the fight choreography is... adequate. For a kid's movie. I'll be a nice guy and not talk about the extremely dated CGI effects. At the same time, I don't think anyone who's seen an episode of the show expected anything else from this movie. It was destined for a low score and a critical lashing. That's Power Rangers though. It's all about the exaggerated karate yells, the ridiculously high back-flips, the cheesiest one-liners, and the well worn catchphrases.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, when the Rangers are all suited up... kicking ass, and spouting silly one-liners, saving the day in all six colors... I'm in love with this movie and I'm five years old all over again. No matter how bad this movie is, the five year old kid inside me loves it, and I hope he always will.

  The movie also has an amazing villain. Ivan Ooze. A villain couched in self awareness and sarcasm. He's great. Ooze transcends the trappings of a kid's movie and delivers line after line of witty dialog that it would be impossible to appreciate at such a young age. Like every single villain from the TV show, he's been locked away in a 'hyperlock chamber' for thousands of years or something. When he finally gets to confront the one who put him there, he starts angrily recounting all the things he's missed, which include The Black Plague, The Spanish Inquisition, and... the Brady Bunch reunion.  I love Ivan Ooze. He's a smartly written villain fully of sly nods for the older audience. A demographic I finally fit into... wow.

  All in all it's exactly what you'd expect. It's a shiny, epic, 90 minute superhero romp complete with all six colors, high-flying stunts, spin-kicks, bells, whistles, and beepy-gadgets one could hope for. I love it. It might not deserve that love, but since when does nostalgia discriminate? The moment you can no longer enjoy your childhood favorites, at least on a guilty pleasure level of nostalgia, then you've truly lost something. What's worse is that you may not even realize you've lost it. Such a shame. But you know what's not a shame? Enjoying Mighty Morphin Power Rangers The Movie. It's morphin' time!

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