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Armed with new zords, Power Rangers kick Ooze

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie

Directed by Bryan Spencer.

Written by Arne Olsen.

Produced by Haim Saban.

Starring Jason David Frank, Amy Jo Johnson, David Yost, Johnny Yong Bosch, Karan Ashley, Steve Cardanas, Paul Freeman, Bob Manahan, and Gabrielle Fitzpatrick.

Sony Copley Place

By Robert Wagner
Staff Reporter

Not as bad as one might think, parts of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie are actually decent. At times reminiscent of the old Voltron cartoon series in its action and concept, the live-action Power Rangers offers some action and special effects that are entertaining. The main problem with the film is that it's about the Power Rangers. Seeing them all do tricks while skydiving and rollerblading around the city, whatever city that might be, may appeal to an audience of under five, but not to general audiences.

For those non-morphin types, the basic story is this: This guy named Zordon, played by Bob Manahan (the fat-faced low-voiced guy who tells the Power Rangers what to do), combats evil throughout the universe using six teenagers who know some sort of martial arts. He lives in another dimension, which is why he's always in that weird black-and-white cylindrical viewer. Six kickin' teenagers from one thousand years ago, obviously a different set of teens from today's Rangers, trapped Ivan Ooze (played brilliantly by Paul Freeman), the ultimate source of evil in the universe - even more evil than Rita and Lord Zed, the traditional TV series villains. Now, Ooze has escaped, and will wreak havoc on the city unless the Power Rangers can stop him.

Despite this gripping story, the film has major problems. For one thing, it lacked everything. You name it, it lacked it. Besides having no parents, the Power Rangers have no character, except for Billy the Blue Ranger as the smart one and Tommy the White Ranger as the new leader (which is odd considering that Tommy was introduced on TV as a bad guy trying to get the Rangers). The Rangers are merely faceless teens, distinguished only by color, who like to kick evil's butt.

There are, however, some good parts to the film. Bulk and Skull, played by Jason Narvy and Paul Schrier, the Rangers' bumbling schoolmates, provide comic relief with lines like "We smelled death, and death could use a mint." Ivan Ooze is humorous as the lead villain: When he first runs into the Power Rangers, he teases them by acting impressed and pretends to look for his autograph book. Goldar (Ryan O'Flannigan), the villain similar to Beast Man in Masters of the Universe, was funny, as usual.

The action, too, was particularly good. Ivan's ooze-men, analogous to the bad-guy "putties" of the TV series, fought fiercely with the Rangers, but turned into ooze when kicked hard enough instead of merely exploding like the putties do. Rather than be merely a long episode, the film changes many things about the series - a little like the Transformers movie did for that show, but not as dramatically.

The movie definitely appeals to youngsters who know the series; the crowd oohed and ahhed when the newly designed command center came on the screen. Another change is that Ivan Ooze is so powerful that he actually destroys this new command center and kills Zordon. Even worse, all of the power suits and vehicles, called zords, are destroyed along with the command center. In fact, the Power Rangers must travel to the planet of Fedor to somehow find more power. There, they meet a warrior woman, Dulcea, played by Gabrielle Fitzpatrick, who kicks their butts until they reveal that they are allies of Zordon.

Aided by Dulcea while on Fedor, the Power Rangers receive new zords to replace their old dinosaur zords, no doubt a plot to increase the sales of Power Rangers merchandise. The new zords represent the most ferocious and powerful (well, almost) animals in the wild, such as the bear, the ape, the wolf, the crane, the falcon, and the frog. They then use these zords to combat Ivan Ooze, who has in the meantime taken over the planet, which, to judge by the sets, doesn't seem to reach past city limits.

Will these zords be powerful enough to defeat the treacherous Ivan Ooze? Of course! But that inevitability does not take away from the action and the special effects. Resembling a Godzilla movie or Ultraman, Power Rangers has huge monsters for the good guys to defeat. The fights occur in the middle of the city, so there are ample amounts of cars thrown, street lights ripped out, and good old general explosions.

Don't misunderstand. Though there are good parts to this film, they are far outweighed by the vile nature of the Rangers themselves. Though the series will change as a result of this film, those changes compare neither in quality nor in magnitude with the changes in, say, the Transformers movie. Tommy, the new leader of the Power Rangers, is definitely no Optimus Prime. In fact, he's not even a Rodimus Prime.