Saturday, November 4, 2017

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Live

The 1990s were an interesting time where, if something was popular, they would try to keep it popular in any way whatsoever.  One of the ideas that came out of children’s entertainment was traveling stage shows.  Disney on Ice was a big thing.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had their Coming Out of Their Shells tour.  Mighty Morphin Power Rangers even got in on the stage show concept with their very own Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Live show.

The stage show happened during the second season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and as it was included in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers box set, I’ll be taking a look at the recording while I’m between the second and third seasons of the show.  This is the third of three specials being written about during the season break.  It might be the most interesting, too.  We’ll see as we get into…
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Live
A news report came on the screen about a meteor heading toward Earth.  When the meteor crash landed, two aliens appeared.  They approached Lord Zedd, who was hiding in one of Earth’s cities, to learn his evil ways.  He let them in on his plan.  The reason he had gone to the city was to draw the Power Rangers away from Zordon, making it easier to fight them.

Zordon sent Alpha to investigate Lord Zedd being in the city.  He went to the park and searched for clues, where he ended up being taunted by putties.  The Power Rangers showed up to save Alpha.  Zordon let them know that the putties were just bait to get the Power Rangers to the city, and told them to go find Lord Zedd.

Once the Power Rangers arrived in the city, Lord Zedd unleashed his newest monster.  Lumitor was a fire lion that Lord Zedd was hoping would be a strong enough foe to defeat the Power Rangers.  How wrong he would be.

Goldar appeared in the city where the Power Rangers were and a fight ensued.  He kidnapped Adam and Aisha and took them back to Lord Zedd’s secret Earth base.  Aisha feigned a sore ankle, convincing Squatt and Baboo to free them while Goldar wasn’t watching.  Unfortunately, they weren’t able to escape because Lord Zedd showed up and put them in cages.

The Power Rangers were about to storm Lord Zedd’s base when Alpha stopped them.  He told them it was a trap.  Lord Zedd got mad when the four free Power Rangers didn’t show up and turned his two captives into monkeys.  That didn’t please him, so he then turned them into birds.

To finish off the first portion of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Live, the Power Rangers got their Zords and began fighting Lumitor.  They ended up finishing the fight on foot, going hand to hand against the fire lion.  They ended up winning, sending the story into the second half.

The second half began with Goldar taking Adam and Aisha to the park, where the putties would build a new monster.  A robot named Hollow Monster would be the new foe for the Power Rangers as they tried to save their friends.

The Power Rangers showed up at the park to find their friends.  They found the Adam and Aisha birds and learned about Hollow Monster right before Hollow Monster attacked.  The way to defeat Hollow Monster was to make as much noise as possible.  It would resonate inside his hollow body and destroy him from the inside.  Once they defeated the monster, they noticed that their friends had been taken away.

Squatt was hiding behind a boulder in the park.  The Power Rangers used Squatt to break into Lord Zedd’s secret lair.  They fought some putties, but met their match with a giant Lord Zedd.  They ended up defeating him and saving the day, but it was one of the toughest victories they ever had.  Defeating Lord Zedd also saved Adam and Aisha.

There were fights galore in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Live.  Most of them involved unlanded kicks and punches while a crowd was on stage, so I’m going to skip over describing that stuff.  I’m going to look at the fights that were interesting, unique, or had something other than crowd pushing to offer.  There are still a lot of fights to go over, many of which called upon the audience to participate.

The final fight against Lumitor was an interesting one.  The four Power Rangers who weren’t being held captive called upon the Zords.  All six Zords showed up, even though two of the Power Rangers weren’t there.  They formed the Megazord, then didn’t fight Lumitor in the Zords because he was still normal size on stage.  They hopped out of the Zords and fought him in hand to hand combat before getting the audience to shout “Go Go Power Rangers” to win the fight.  It was a mess of a fight that probably could have been handled better.  Like, maybe, with someone in a Megazord suit?

Another fight that called upon the audience was the fight against the Hollow Monster.  Adam and Aisha, as birds, let the Power Rangers know that loud noises would defeat the Hollow Monster.  While Rocky was kicking it to keep it away from everyone, the Power Rangers asked the audience to yell at Hollow Monster.  As the audience grew louder, the Power Rangers were able to tear the monster apart.  It could no longer attack Earth.

There were two major parts to the climactic fight, each deserving to be mentioned.  The first was the giant Lord Zedd that loomed over the stage.  As he mocked the Power Rangers and threatened to defeat them, they discovered that they couldn’t use their powers.  Lord Zedd was blocking them.  They couldn’t call upon their Zords.  The Power Rangers needed the help of the audience once again.  The kids in the audience had reflector cards.  The Power Rangers told them to hold up the cards and reflect Lord Zedd’s power back at him.  They did that and yelled “More light!”  This defeated the giant Lord Zedd and freed Adam and Aisha from their bird forms.  It also led into the second part of the fight.

A swarm of putties came back to the stage to surround the Power Rangers.  They split up into one on one pairings, and then froze on stage.  One at a time, the Power Rangers fought their respective putty while everyone else was frozen.  It was an interesting use of blocking that helped to highlight every individual fight while still showing how big the battle was.  The focus was placed on one pair at a time so that nothing would get lost during the battle.  This was the only time that this idea was utilized, which is a shame because it would have helped with some of the earlier fights to make them feel less cluttered.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Live was an interesting piece of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers history.  It had a solid storyline that would have been well suited to the show.  The issues with it came from the staged production and the limitations that it brought.  There were many of those, as well as some interesting notes that stood out among the normal Power Rangers stuff.

One of the first things to happen with Mighty Morphin Power Ranger: Live was the title popping up on screen.  There was a little something extra at the beginning of the title, a little something that wasn’t there during the television show, movie, or specials outside of the live show.  A sponsor helped fund Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Live.  That sponsor was 7Up, the carbonated beverage.  They had definitely invested enough in the live show to get their name in the title so that anyone who ever attended the show or watched on video would get a little dose of advertising.

7Up didn’t factor into the story of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Live.  Rita Repulsa did, however.  There was a running gag throughout the show that wasn’t mentioned in my recap where Lord Zedd was always finding ways to get rid of Rita.  She was turned into a doll and placed in a miniature casket.  She was sent to the moon.  There were various methods of disposal that never quite worked.  This was a great difference from the television show which had, at that point, married the two characters.  One thing gave away the fact that the story took place after the marriage.  Rita Repulsa didn’t return to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers until after The Power Transfer, and when she returned, the two villains immediately wed.  Since the live show had Rocky, Adam, and Aisha as Power Rangers, it had to take place after The Wedding.  Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa were behaving as they did in The Mutiny, which made things feel off.  It was a good attempt at comedic relief, but it didn’t fit with what the show had been doing.

Also of note was the fact that the live show only used the television show’s cast for pre-recorded videos and voice work.  This meant that the Power Rangers who appeared on stage had to always be in their power suits.  No helmets were ever removed on stage.  It got awkward at times, when the stage actors had to flail their arms around to signal who was talking at a given time.  Perhaps it would have been better to do a “summer tour” sort of thing with the cast, where they could perform in the stage show between seasons of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  Or they could have entirely just recast the Power Rangers.  That could have caused confusion among the younger viewers, though, which would have killed ticket sales.  The tour with the cast would have been the better choice.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Live was a small detour from the actual show that was an interesting failure of sorts.  The story felt like it could have fit nicely into the show, even being one of the stronger standouts.  But a lack of having the actual cast made everything ring a little false.  Add in a Zord battle that went nowhere because the Zords couldn’t show up on stage, and there was a lot of mildly disappointing stuff that snowballed.  It wasn’t the worst thing, but it felt like wasted potential.

That does it for the three specials that had to be covered between seasons 2 and 3.  It all began with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie.  That led into Lord Zedd’s Monster Heads.  Now I’ve capped it off with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Live.  Three special posts about three special entries in the Power Rangers franchise.  Pretty soon, I’ll be getting back into the main story by watching the third season premiere.  Come back soon and there will be a post all about the first part of A Friend in Need.  See you then.  

Friday, October 27, 2017

Lord Zedd's Monster Heads

During the second season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, there was a video release of a Halloween special.  It was called Lord Zedd’s Monster Heads and involved Lord Zedd hosting a Halloween party at his moon base.  A bunch of monsters were there.  That’s as much of a description as is really necessary, I think.

This post will be about that special.  As a little breather from the main Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series, I’m covering the movie and the season 2 specials before diving into season 3 and all that it entails.  This is the second of the three between season posts that will be coming out, the first having been about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie.  This isn’t about the movie though.  This post is about…
Lord Zedd’s Monster Heads
Halloween came to Angel Grove once again.  The Power Rangers celebrated like they always did.  They went to the Angel Grove Youth Centre for a Halloween party where everyone could hang out, dance, and drink juice from Ernie’s juice bar.

This gave Lord Zedd an idea.  Goldar asked what the idea was, and it surprisingly didn’t involve attacking Earth while the Power Rangers were busy partying.  Lord Zedd wanted to hold his own Halloween party in the Moon Castle.  He would invite various monsters to come celebrate with him.

Throughout most of the episode, the audience was treated to the introduction of the many monsters that Lord Zedd wanted to attend the party.  There were even some monsters that didn’t show up.  He talked about what the monsters were and how they fought the Power Rangers.

The Halloween special ended with a party happening at the moon base.  There were monsters, putties, and even Rita Repulsa.  They danced, played music, and ate food.  It was a festival of horrors as the monsters celebrated the spookiest season of the year.
There wasn’t a whole lot to Lord Zedd’s Monster Heads.  It was a clip show special, with every piece of footage being reused from previous episodes.  The interstitial Lord Zedd footage came from various episodes.  It was just reused footage of Lord Zedd at his throne commanding Goldar.  Whenever a monster was mentioned, footage from the episodes with that monster appeared.  It was like a highlights episode for the monsters of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, though not one of the actual episodes of the show.  Even the party footage was reused.  It consisted of pieces from The Wedding, particularly the reception held after Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa were married.  Everything about Lord Zedd’s Monster Heads was recycled.

Like any regular episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, however, there were a few inconsistencies.  Lord Zedd had only been in control of the moon base during the second season.  A few of the monsters that he mentioned throughout the special were monsters from the first season.  Sure, some of those monsters had been resurrected during Lord Zedd’s tenure as the primary antagonist of the show.  Monsters like the Pumpkin Rapper had returned while Lord Zedd was leading the bad guys.  But there were some monsters mentioned, which he commented on liking, that weren’t his monsters.  He never interacted with them.  Knasty Knight, Eye Guy, and Terror Toad had no association with Lord Zedd.  He wanted them resurrected and brought to his party anyway.

There’s not much more to say about Lord Zedd’s Monster Heads.  It goes over a lot of ground that has already been covered.  That’s the nature of a clip show.  If nothing new is going to be shown, it’s not bringing anything new to the table.  It was enjoyable enough as a trip down memory lane.  This won’t be a special that I’m looking forward to going back and watching anytime soon.  Any episode of the television show is better than this.  Lord Zedd’s Monster Heads was a way to get quick money off of the fanbase.

That brings the post to an end.  Let’s put this special behind us and move onto the third and final special before I head into the third season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  The final special is a road show that was based on the television series.  Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Live will be coming to a blog near you sometime in the future.  Then I’ll go back to the main series.  I’ll see you soon with another post.

First Time Watches: September 2017

Since school began at the start of September, life has been getting busier and busier.  It means that I’ve fallen behind on some of the stuff I meant to do.  Specifically, I fell behind on writing.  That’s where this post comes in.  Welcome to my first time watches for September 2017.

I have been writing these posts for over a year, letting everyone know my thoughts on the movies I had recently watched for the first time.  I have no idea if anyone reads or gets anything out of the posts, but I keep writing them anyway.  This is another post with another month’s worth of movies.

There weren’t too many first time watches in September.  I only ended up getting to nine of them.  What I did watch was quite varied, though.  There was a clown terrorizing some kids and a trip around the world.  There was a visit to a summer camp and a city boy visiting the country.  Twelve soldiers even teamed up to take down some Nazis.  Speaking of which, let’s get to the first movie.

The Dirty Dozen
This is one of those war movies that gets mentioned whenever war movies are discussed.  It’s a well-deserved mention.  A group of disgraced soldiers, many of whom will be hanged for what they did, are forced to team up and go on a suicide mission.  It was separated into three distinct sections.  First the war criminals became a team.  Next, they stuck it to the man through a competition.  Then, the actual mission happened.  All three sections were great, and anchored by one of the best casts to ever grace a war film.  Well worth checking out.
Baby Geniuses and the Space Baby
It’s a sad state of affairs when this and its two predecessors are a step down from Superbabies.  Who knew that there could be a step down from Superbabies?  It seemed like the lowest level already.  But here we are.  Out of the three Baby Geniuses and… movies, this was the best one.  That’s not saying much.  It still had all the bad jokes and acting.  The Space Baby was the only reason it was slightly better.  He changed things up just enough to make the story a little interesting.
Around the World in 80 Days
The version that I watched was the 1950s David Niven movie.  It was long and had a lot of big scenery.  The thing is, I don’t remember too much of the movie outside of some images in my head.  Don’t get me wrong.  It was good.  It just left my memory as quickly as it went in.  I may need to rewatch it sometime.
Who hasn’t seen this by now?  Everyone knows the story.  Pennywise the Dancing Clown shows up in Derry and starts eating kids.  A group of the local children, known as The Losers Club, fight back.  The movie was mostly jump scares, many of which worked, but it did also touch upon some heavier subjects.  A girl was being abused by her father.  The bully was showing serial killer tendencies.  That stuff was as scary as the clown.  The cast of kids was great and had fantastic chemistry with one another.  One of the best of 2017.
For Your Consideration
Film class got a little upgrade this year.  Instead of simply taking a camera and filming whatever, we now get a little bit of theory and some movies to show us what we’re learning.  We were shown For Your Consideration as an exaggerated, yet accurate representation of the personalities you could meet in the business.  (We were also shown 12 Angry Men as an example of camerawork, but I’ve seen that before, so it’s not in this post.)  There were funny moments, though sometimes I was left scratching my head at comedic choices.  Good movie.  Not sure I would watch it again.
Son in Law
I’m not much of a Pauly Shore fan so I was wary going into a movie he starred in.  The worst part of Son in Law was absolutely Pauly Shore.  That’s not to say that the rest was bad.  It had a solid story with a country girl going to the city and learning the city ways, then bringing a city friend to the country to learn country living.  There was a double fish out of water thing going on.  Pauly Shore just grinds my gears in the wrong way, so it was tough to enjoy.  I did appreciate whenever he sang John Denver’s Thank God I’m a Country Boy, so there’s that.
Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust
This was the second movie I watched in September involving a movie being produced.  I honestly found it to be the more entertaining of the two.  It followed the studio head, some of the performers, the effects people, and writers as they made a low budget horror movie.  Eventually, the Gingerdead Man showed up and started killing the people who were making it.  It’s right up my alley and I kind of loved it.
Don’t Hang Up
Two friends who prank call people and use the calls to make YouTube videos got pranked themselves.  Except the man prank calling them put their lives at risk.  The main problem with Don’t Hang Up was that it was easier to sympathize with the bad guy’s motivations than the two leads.  You wanted the bad guy to win because the main characters were jerks.  The movie wanted you to sympathize with the two YouTubers, though.  It was still entertaining, but weakened by poor writing.
All I ever heard about this movie was that Bill Murray was great in it.  When I finally watched it, he seemed like a creeper.  I get that it’s a summer camp movie.  It’s a pretty good one at that.  But there was a scene where Bill Murray forced himself on another counselor then blamed her when he got caught.  Not cool.  Camp competitions are my shit though, so it won me over in the end.

This brings to a close another month of first time watches.  There weren’t many but the few that there were are likely to (mostly) stick with me.  It was a month where I enjoyed more than I didn’t.

Next month should bring the spooky back to the first time watches.  It’s October, so there’s a lot of horror movies coming up with that post.  I’ve already seen things like The Green Inferno, Gerald’s Game, and The Monster Squad, which I will be writing about.  There are also a few non-horror movies in Blade Runner 2049 and Geostorm.  If you want to read that stuff, come back next month when I post the October first time watches.

A few last things before you go.  Let’s do some plugs.  I have a series of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers posts that I’ve been going through for a long time.  I also have another blog called Sunday “Bad” Movies, where I cover a different “bad” movie each week.  Check those out.  While you’re at it, check out my boy Jaime Burchardt as he finishes up his October Horrorfest.  He’s just an all-around awesome guy and you’ll be happy to know him.  And finally, Marcelo Pico and the Talk Film Society crew are doing some amazing stuff on their site.  Marcus Irving recently wrote a piece grading every trap/lesson in the Saw franchise, excluding Jigsaw, which just came out.  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed with any of these plugs (that aren’t my writing).  They’re all good.  See you soon.