Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997)

Around 1996 and in to 1997, the “Power Rangers” pop culture phenomenon had just about died down and Saban entertainment were looking to re-invent the series for a new wave of toy buying tween boys. I was a big “Power Rangers” fan for many years and, like most people my age, I checked out once “Turbo” was introduced. It just felt so tired once they devolved from mystical giant dinosaur robots to… cool cars! Forget a giant dragon that can smash buildings, you have a red car that goes vroom! Of course, I opted out of seeing “Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie” for a very long time, and for good reason. “Turbo” is a movie apparently made on half of the budget of the 1995 movie, and with none of the ambition. You can say whatever you want about the “Mighty Morphin” movie, but it was at least ambitious and tried to take the series in to a bigger scope.

It also side stepped Sentai footage to build its own canon as well. “Turbo” however is a painfully bland and nonsensical adventure movie that should very well have been a two part introduction episode on television. The movie has so much filler and works over time to cut out key characters for the sake of re-invigorating the series. So we never see the Rangers transform until well in to the movie, and for some reason the one time a character attempts to become a Zeo ranger, she only transforms mid-way and reverts back to a human. Even a scene like a group of monsters sneaking up on hero Justin on a pirate ship is so poorly staged, it lacks any kind of suspense or tension. The studios place so much importance on this new concept like it’s a ceremonial passing of the torch, when it’s just another phase in the series, and a clunky one at that. They even go so far as bringing back Amy Jo Johnson and Austin St. John as Jason and Kimberly for no particular reason.

“Turbo” is centered on a new villainess named Divatox, a female pirate flying a submarine space ship who wants to sacrifice people for the sake of a lava creature named Maligore—who she wants to marry to rule the universe. The only way to do this is by kidnapping a rogue wizard named Lerigot, a creature with a weakness for the sun, who has a key that will unlock Maligore from his prison on an island called Maranthius. Still with me? When Divatox sends her baddies to capture him, Lerigot lands on Earth to get the help of the Power Rangers. After being saved by leaders Tommy and Kat, they learn Divatox kidnapped Lerigot’s wife and child as ransom, and also plans to use retired Rangers Jason and Kimberly as sacrifices for Maligore. The only way Tommy and the group can get their friends back is by trading Lerigot. And as you guessed they get new powers without explanation, and their new teammate is a twelve year old boy because he—overheard the group were the Power Rangers.

For all we know, he probably blackmailed Zordon, threatening to reveal his location to Divatox until he was made an honorary blue ranger. Either way, “Turbo” is long and very boring, and tosses in so many inexplicably goofy moments like a pirate ship sequence and Tommy and Kat going in a safari. Classic characters like Tommy, Jason and Kimberly exchanging almost no dialogue, and the directors don’t even have the courtesy allowing a few moments of them morphing. Bringing back two classic Rangers and then wasting them is just downright unforgivable. “Turbo” is supposed to be a new era in the series and mattered to just about no one. Even for hardcore fans, “Turbo” is an abysmal action follow-up that takes the series in to a dead end that it had to claw out of for a long time.