Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie


I'm still a bit in a stew over events at last week's Hip Hop awards ceremony. I Vicki Lester, also known as Mrs. Norman Maine or MNM was invited to host, agreed to simply do a featured spot when it became clear the producers were expecting something known as an Eminem and did my best to make one of my 'tap' specialties a 'rap' specialty and I still got deleted from the broadcast for commercials. Stars do not get treated like this and I am filing with SAG, Equity, AFTRA and AGMA. After all,  with proper French pronunciation,

Forget Your Troubles, Come On Start Rapping! 
And Shake All Your Cares Away. 
Forget Your Troubles, With Rap and Tapping! 
Blow Your Trumpet With A Tour Jete!!

And I did a little trumpet solo at that point while tapping in time to the rhythm section. The audience was so overcome with emotion, they were simply unable to applaud. 

There was only one minor glitch in the whole proceedings. Near the end of the number, the stage was rushed by a bunch of very rude people waving hand lettered signs saying things like 'Snakes Are People Too!' and 'Don't Mambo With Mamba' and 'Erin Cobra!'. It did make me drop the trumpet in the orchestra pit where it added a new and interesting note to the percussion section but my taps never missed a beat. I later learned that they were representatives of PETER (People for the Ethical Treatment of Estimable Reptiles) who think that my Ssssoundssss of Ssssilence tour is in some way exploitative of our legless brethren. I did call up their national headquarters that night and explained how my tour allows previously unemployed snakes to find useful new careers but they didn't seem interested. There's a rumor that they plan a major disruption at my Lester, Live at Red Rocks! gig for PBS this next week. 

My busy touring schedule has prevented me from getting out to the movies much so I've had to rely on what's playing on cable where I happened to catch 1995's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie a day or so ago. I'm not quite sure what about this train wreck of a film made me sit down and watch the whole thing - it probably had something to do with all my cocktail frocks being out at the cleaners and my not wanting to leave the hotel suite in just my chemise. I am not Madonna. 

When the movie started, I tried to figure out just what it had to do with morphine as there were no addicts or chronic pain in sight (except for the headaches induced in the audience). I later decided that it was 'morphing' and the creators had dropped the 'g' for no discernible reason other than to confuse children who have enough trouble with the rules of grammar. Anyway, the Power Rangers are six teenagers (played by a sexually and ethnically balanced sextet of twenty somethings of no discernible talent) who go from street clothes to pretty color coordinated ninjaesque outfits when evil fills the air. They each also have an extinct animal totem (mastodon, triceratops) as living species would have sued for defamation of character. They take their orders from the Eraserhead baby, all grown up and living in some sort of bottle in the usual secret lab; he's an all powerful being who, despite having been around for thousands of years, seems to only be able to afford a wise cracking robot as a servant. 

A dreadful villain named Ivan Ooze (Paul Freeman, the evil archeologist from Raiders of the Lost Ark) who appears to be playing the grapes from the Fruit of the Loom commercials after an unfortunate accident at the hairdressers, tries to destroy the good guys. Our rangers, therefore, to gain the power necessary to beat the ooze, have to journey in a lovely cheap special effect rainbow to some other world where they meet a cross between Barbarella and Xena who wears green vinyl and helps them learn some sort of ballet mixed with Tae-Kwan-Do. The villain, meantime, is cross breeding the Wizard of Oz's flying monkeys with Dumbo's crows and threatening to take over the world. There's then some sort of a battle with plastic go-bots pretending to be spaceships and the good guys win and there is much rejoicing. 

I'm not sure of the reasoning behind this film. It's apparently based on a popular children's cartoon but this is not a film for children. It's too violent and even your average four year old will be bored with the clich├ęs that serve as story and dialog. Cinema buffs will be repelled as there's nothing very interesting about the visual look, and the storytelling is kindergarten level. Teens will be bored, what with the cheesy special effects and the lame attempts at acting by the young leads. I haven't run across a film as bereft of target demographic as this one for some years. The last one that was so orphaned being the recent cartoon version of The King and I which seemed to be aimed at six year old boys interested in Bob Mackie Barbies and old Liberace albums. This one doesn't even seem to be aimed at humans. I suppose I could try it on the cat to see if it responds. 

Paul Freeman, as the villain, is the only vaguely name actor in the enterprise and I think he has visions of himself as being in the same league as Frank Langella's Skeletor or Ian Mackellan's Magneto. Unfortunately, he holds the screen with all the snap, crackle and pop of the dancing raisins (and he's about the same color) and he doesn't even have a Marvin Gaye song to sing. He comes across more as a Sesame Street Muppet than a menacing supervillain. 

I can think of no excuse for sitting through this, other than being locked in a hotel room with nothing else to do. 

Deadpan humans. Karate chopping Power Rangers. Gratuitous dancing overweight blue collar construction workers. Laboratory destruction. Cutesy-poo robot. Exploding bird creatures. 'Transformer' type spaceships. Gratuitous warrior maiden on beach. 

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