Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie

(aka Power Rangers: The Movie, Bryan Spicer, USA, 1995)


It must be marvellous to live in a big city that has been endlessly mythologised in art, literature and cinema. Parisians see romantic ghosts from Nouvelle Vague movies and surrealist novels on every grotty street corner; New Yorkers can gaze at their skyline at night and remember the sweeping panoramas of Woody Allen films.

There is sweet enchantment in this mythologising process but also the possibility of a less socially sanctioned thrill. Disgruntled Tokyo citizens adore the sight of Godzilla destroying every skyscraper and motorway in his path; just as those same New Yorkers on a bad day can relish the vision of giant demons pounding the pavement in Ghostbusters (1984).

The chief virtue of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie is that it brings fantasies of a similar magnitude to Australia and places them within the familiar landmarks of Sydney. Suddenly, one of those ugly, excavated construction sites becomes the place where an ancient, evil tomb is unearthed; Sydney Tower becomes a plaything for a monster to merrily break off and swing around.

Sydney happens to be renamed Angel Grove to fit the pre-existing world of TV's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but for local viewers this magical transformation of familiar places is an absolute delight. By the time an army of kids piled aboard the monorail to reach the final showdown between good and evil, I was in seventh heaven.

Often, film reviewers stoop to admire a film for kids only if displays a two tier effect – that is, if it has a number of sophisticated jokes and ironies in store for adults to enjoy above the heads of their children. This movie is braver: it pitches itself almost totally to kids, without apology or condescension.

The evil Ivan Ooze (Paul Freeman) has a modest aim – to "annihilate the universe". He turns the parental population of Angel Grove into an army of zombies; it is up to their keen children to save them from lemming-like mass suicide. Meanwhile, the Power Rangers (a bunch of teenage martial artists in brightly coloured costumes) travel to a distant planet to find an energy source powerful enough to combat Ivan.

This film has a strange and pleasantly surreal sense of narrative time. The Rangers' father-figure Zordon (Nicholas Bell) lays dying, with seemingly only precious moments left; meanwhile, the team embarks on a leisurely adventure of mystical self-discovery. Later, about twenty minutes pass between Ivan's command to his minions to walk off a cliff, and their reaching the edge of a nearby precipice.

There is a grand frenzy of mutation and anthropomorphisation in this film – aircraft shaped like animals lock together to form a man; dozens of monsters grow from purple goo into every life form imaginable. This is certainly the most enjoyable and imaginative kids' movie I saw in 1995.

© Adrian Martin September 1995

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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