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.
By 1993, Robocop had turned from a Christ allegory with a vicious blood streak to a bonafide kids’ mascot who was appearing on lunch boxes and Saturday morning cartoons. Thus was the weird period of the eighties and nineties where even folks like Conan, Rambo, Chuck Norris, and heck, even Freddy Krueger became kiddie fodder. The official final go around for Robocop is a tame and pretty dull 1993 film that director Fred Dekker is saddled with, that takes Robocop in to more family friendly territory right down to having a spunky child sidekick. Not much has happened for Robocop and Detroit since the first two films, as the city is still very much under the death grip of crime, while OCP still controls every going on. Dekker has a lot of catching up to do and sadly doesn’t deliver much in the way of a great sequel, as “Robocop 3” essentially repeats a lot of the same beats from the first two films.
Irvin Kershner has a knack for taking original films and amplifying what makes them work initially. With “RoboCop 2,” Kershner takes the RoboCop mythology to new heights creating a film that’s significantly more memorable than the original and arguably better. That’s a controversial statement for sure but when a lot of fans think of RoboCop, they think about the RoboCop 2 unit which becomes something of a parallel to Alex Murphy. Where in Alex is still grasping with bits and pieces of his humanity and consciousness, our villain Cain fully embraces the technological shell he is transplanted in and begins to wreak absolute havoc.
This is the classic love story of a man and a woman falling in lover under weird circumstances. And a pair of apes that also fall in love under odd circumstances. And their heart transplant that bonds them. Okay, so this isn’t a classic love story, but it is the premise for easily the silliest “King Kong” movie ever made. In a movie that was sort of kind of made to be a spoor, but also meant to be taken very seriously, “King Kong Lives” is kind of the movie that killed King Kong until 2005, and proved that this concept was never meant to go beyond the one and done tale of his experience with Fay Wray on the Empire State Building.
Poor Kong. He’s only a pawn in the game of life. “King Kong Escapes” is another in the efforts by Toho to create a more expanded mythology for King Kong, which is a shame since I think he could have been a nice part of the Godzilla movie series here and there. He could have balanced out all the reptiles and lizards and bugs. “King Kong Escapes” is a direct sequel to “King Kong vs. Godzilla” except this is a movie much more about Kong. This is also one of the few King Kong movies with an actual conniving villain, who walks around committing to an evil scheme.
This is the bash we were all waiting for: the king of the monsters from America meets the king of the monsters from Asia—by way of Toho. Really, King Kong is given something of an Asian treatment this time around, increased in size, and allowed much more of a loophole to face Godzilla for this giant monster bash. I saw the Universal International version where the producers take it upon themselves to over explain everything. In this version the head of a pharmaceuticals company wants to grab a rare berry that is found on a distant island. Said berry has narcotic properties but it non-addictive. Wanting to improve his ratings and invest in a potential product, he sends two executives to the island to find the berries and the mythical monster the villagers are said to placate with juice from the berries.
If “King Kong” was the main feature, than “Son of Kong” is the less than stellar epilogue. After King Kong died in the middle of Manhattan, Carl Denham is suffering a large amount of scrutiny and possible jail time for what he brought on to New York. He now hides out in an apartment away from the press, all of whom are anxious to interview him and roast him about the part he played. “Son of Kong” is not the most action packed film. At barely seventy minutes in length, it’s mostly an adventure comedy about Carl Denham trying to save his reputation, and falling in love with a lonely female performer who follows him to Kong Island.