By 1997 the “Power Rangers” had reached the nadir of their popularity and with the appeal of the franchise dying down as fans grew older, “Turbo” was a last gasp cash grab. It didn’t just bring the old and new Rangers (for the most part, anyway) to the big screen, but it also rebooted the Power Rangers in to a auto-centric kind of Power Rangers team that would do nothing but go downhill from here.
With fans of Mighty Morphin complaining that they could only get the 1995 movie on DVD when it was released as part of a complete box set, Shout! Factory finally releases the big feature film on Blu-Ray for collectors. “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie” admittedly has a ton of nostalgic and sentimental value for me, so I’m not even going to pretend to thumb my nose up at it. All I know is it’s a damn fun movie, and one you can watch the equally underrated “Power Rangers” from 2017.
Dean Israelite’s reboot of “Power Rangers” is meant to be a reboot for a new generation. It has diversity, and vision, and works well in making sense of a lot of the concepts presented in the original series. Fans didn’t need all of the ideas to make sense, hence the rabid popularity in the nineties, but “Power Rangers” offers a sincerity that undercuts the obvious need for the studio to refurbish the Power Rangers for a new generation of fans and potential toy customers. I, for one, really enjoy what Israelite does with his vision of the “Power Rangers” providing minute cosmetic alterations and some big changes in mythos that are hit or miss most times.
I’m not going to argue that “Power Rangers” isn’t a movie made by a committee. The action loving, kid in me, however, really enjoyed what “Power Rangers” had to offer. It really is a re-imagining of the “Mighty Morphin” era of “Power Rangers” but tackles every plot element and universe building idea with so much more finesse and logic. The reason why these Rangers control robotic dinosaurs makes sense. The reason why Alpha Five is so important makes sense. Zordon being so crucial to helping the Rangers makes so much sense. The diversity is so much more natural and fluid than the original TV series, where everything just felt tacked on for broader appeal. Best of all, the blue ranger finally gets his due in a movie where he is the heart and soul of the entire group.
Around 1996 and in to 1997, the “Power Rangers” pop culture phenomenon had just about died down and Saban entertainment were looking to re-invent the series for a new wave of toy buying tween boys. I was a big “Power Rangers” fan for many years and, like most people my age, I checked out once “Turbo” was introduced. It just felt so tired once they devolved from mystical giant dinosaur robots to… cool cars! Forget a giant dragon that can smash buildings, you have a red car that goes vroom! Of course, I opted out of seeing “Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie” for a very long time, and for good reason. “Turbo” is a movie apparently made on half of the budget of the 1995 movie, and with none of the ambition. You can say whatever you want about the “Mighty Morphin” movie, but it was at least ambitious and tried to take the series in to a bigger scope.
Like many other power rangers fans I have my ranking of my favorite iterations of the “Power Rangers” mythology. While “Mighty Morphin” is my favorite, a very close second is “Power Rangers SPD.” It’s a part of the “Power Rangers” continuation of legacy that has nothing to do with the original five team mates, but that never hobbles its premise or concept, thankfully. “SPD” is a great iteration that lasted a very hefty thirty eight episodes and re-imagines the Power Rangers as an intergalactic police force. What’s more is that while the series does offer a new concept with the police theme, it also has a pretty good premise, an engaging storyline, and even packs in a lot of solid performances from its entire cast.
If you want to talk about weird team ups of 2017 in comic books, it’s tough to come across any weirder than Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the Justice League. It takes a lot of exposition, but the crossover with both teams is entertaining enough in that the writers find a good balance between both properties. The Power Rangers at Boom Studios are now dramatic enough in their own series to work alongside the Justice League, while the Justice League are considered somewhat bright enough to work alongside the Power Rangers. This could be a good platform to mock the Power Rangers and give the Justice League considerable credibility, but thankfully both teams manage to take the piss out of one another quite often.
It’s kind of sucky that, though “Mighty Morphin” is a solid bit of silly escapism, it’s also a film that promises a lot, but never really amounts to anything, in the end. If you followed “Power Rangers” in the 90’s rabidly like I did, the series was overhauled again after the movie, and everything cool that was in this movie was never featured. Even the cool helmet headlights/scanners. Also, how horrible must it be to live in Angel Grove, eh? Does anyone else suspect this is a hell mouth or is it just me?