Julien Neaves – Editor
So I’ve been watching a lot of Power Rangers lately. Like a lot. I know it is ostensibly a kids show but in these crazy times there is something comforting in the simple campiness of it. And I have never seen all of the many series so the completionist in me just wanted to see it all. After the 205 episodes of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers and Power Rangers Zeo I reached Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie.
Now I remember seeing the film in my mid/teens and absolutely hating it. I found it cheesy, lame and insufferably boring. And so I was dreading having to rewatch it. But watching it now in my late thirties Turbo isn’t completely bad. I am as shocked as you are! With a SPOILER ALERT here is my retro review in three slices:
Slice 1: The Story So Far…
Previously on Power Rangers Zeo…the Machine Empire has been unceremoniously defeated after previous big bads Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa tricked them with a bomb disguised in a gift. That is some mafia stuff right there, down to seeing little Prince Sprocket’s disembodied head. Dang! So the Rangers need a new big bad and that comes in the form of space pirate Divatox (Hilary Shepard-Turner) who wants to awaken and marry a giant inter-dimensional demon named Maligore using a key from a diminutive alien wizard named Lerigot. The film is a direct tie-in to the series Power Rangers Turbo unlike the first film Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie which is not canon to the series.
The team gets a shake-up when Blue Ranger Rocky (Steve Cardenas) performs an unwise martial arts move and injures himself and has to be replaced by preteen Justin (Blake Foster). He joins leader and Red Ranger Tommy (Jason David Frank), Pink Ranger Kat (Catherine Sutherland), Green Ranger Adam (Johnny Yong Bosch), and Yellow Ranger Tanya (Nakia Burrise) as the new Turbo Rangers.
Slice 2: Go Go Power Players
The plot of the film is your typical Power Rangers fare – evil person wants to do something evil and the Rangers have to stop them. But Turbo distinguishes itself by having an adventure journey set-up like a budget The Goonies. And the variety of settings – a lush forest, a ghostly ship and a volcanic temple that is a mix of Indiana Jones and Nickelodeon – adds some visual interest. There is nothing in the way of character development or arcs but the cast do a good job with what they are given.
Shepard-Turner is easily the standout as she delightfully chews up every scene that she is in. Foster as Justin has that precocious wonder thing but thankfully never goes into kid annoying. There is a missed opportunity though as they could have had one of the team members doubting that this kid could be an effective Ranger and then having him prove himself. Maybe have Adam be that Ranger and treat Justin badly because he replaced his good friend Rocky. Just a suggestion. Perpetual comic relief Bulk and Skull also appear but they do nothing other than talk in bad accents.
Another wasted opportunity is with the return of original Rangers Jason (Austin St John) and Kimberly (everyone’s boy crush Amy Jo Johnson). There is no mention of Jason recently losing his Gold Zeo Rangers Powers nor a nice little love triangle involving Tommy, current girlfriend Kat and ex Kimberly. Why didn’t Evil Kimberly taunt Kat that she was Jason’s true love? Now that would have been interesting. And on her and Jason turning evil, could they have gotten some cool armour or something? Them in their diving suits just seemed underwhelming.
Slice 3: Shift into Action! Any Time Now…
Speaking of fighting, strangely that is where the film falls down. It is 50 minutes (yes, you read that right) before the Rangers actually get some action. No pre-teen has that level of patience. The pacing is pretty bad, especially in the first act. Did we really need that whole scene with Lerigot and the apes? No we did not. Get to the fisticuffs!
When the fighting finally does start it is nothing to write home to momma about. The Turbo costumes look cool but the weapons are boring (four projectile weapons and one sword, Yawnville) and the new Zords are cars? Seriously? Cars. Even Tanya is like “but they’re cars?” And not even cars with special weapons or abilities. Just cars. Lame!
Some of the effects are kinda shoddy as well. Why does Zordon look worse in this big budget movie then in the series? That makes no sense. On the positive side I liked the gross practical effects on those turtle things on the ship, the Turbo Megazord looks fresh and Maligore has a cool design. The scene of the first transformation into the Turbo Rangers is also vivid and bright.
So I did not hate Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie. Sure it’s not great and the action is lacking but there is enough there to make it a somewhat relaxing, campy distraction.
Score: 4 out of 10
For a look back at Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie you can click here.
Julien Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. Also loves promoting Caribbean film, creating board games and is an aspiring author. Says things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Can also be found talking about TV and movie stuff on Instagram as redmanwriter and on Facebook at Movieville