"Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie" brings the popular TV series to the screen with a barrage of spectacular special effects, a slew of fantastic monsters, a ferociously funny villain--and, most important, a refreshing lack of pretentiousness.
Director Bryan Spicer and his writers have held onto a crucial sense of proportion; they've jazzed up the production values for the big screen but have kept an appealing make-believe comic-book look and sense of wonder. And no matter how far they soar into outer space, the Power Rangers remain likable, well-scrubbed, wholesome high school kids--all parents of teen-agers should be so lucky.
You'd think that when construction workers in the large city of Angel Grove--Sydney, Australia, actually--come upon what looks to be a decidedly outsize manhole cover bearing a satanic monster face upon it, they'd call in the archeologists.
But nooooo --and once the cover is removed, a gigantic metallic claw clutching an immense egg emerges. Popping out of the egg after 6,000 years of incarceration is none other than the terrible Ivan Ooze (Paul Freeman), a figure "of evil beyond imagination," who is eager to make up for lost time in destroying the planet, and then the universe itself.
After all, he points out, he's missed the Spanish Inquisition, the Black Plague--and "the Brady Bunch reunion." The Power Rangers have their work cut out for them. With a head like a horned toad, Ivan is a sharp, witty figure of malevolent fun who overshadows more familiar evildoers like Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa.
So potent is Ivan's evil that the Power Rangers' leader Zordon (Nicholas Bell), encased like a holograph in his elaborate command center, begins losing his life force. The Power Rangers must travel to a distant planet to obtain the Great Power if Zordon is to survive.
Be warned that the film is intended for youngsters, for whom the triumph of good over evil won't seem quite so predictable as it is to adults. Similarly, the six Rangers--Karan Ashley, Johnny Yong Bosch, Steve Cardenas, Jason David Frank, Amy Jo Johnson and David Yost--probably won't strike kids as being so bland since they've come to know them on TV. Beyond its extravagantly gleeful villain, nonstop action and visual razzle-dazzle, it has a simple but important message, delivered by a lovely warrior queen (Gabrielle Fitzpatrick) on that distant planet. She tells the Power Rangers that "the strength is inside you. Trust it."
* MPAA rating: PG, for action violence. Times guidelines: The violence is largely restricted to standard martial arts action and is appropriate for most children.
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'Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie' Karan Ashley: Aisha/Yellow Ranger Johnny Yong: Bosch Adam/Black Ranger Steve Cardenas: Rocky/Red Ranger Jason David Frank: Tommy/White Ranger Amy Jo Johnson: Kimberley/Pink Ranger David Yost: Billy/Blue Ranger Paul Freeman: Ivan Ooze Gabrielle Fitzpatrick: Dulcea A 20th Century Fox presentation of a Saban Entertainment/Toei Co. production. Director Bryan Spicer. Producers Haim Saban, Shuki Levy,, Suzanne Todd. Screenplay by Arne Olsen, from a story by John Kamps and Olsen. Cinematographer Paul Murphy. Editor Wayne Wahrman. Costumes Karen Perry. Music Graeme Revell. Production designer Craig Stearns. Art director Colin Gibson. Set decorator Tim Ferrier. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes.
* In general release throughout Southern California.