Power Rangers has spent a morphinominal thirty years on television (not counting its Japanese forebear, Super Sentai, which has been kicking around on television screens since the mid-’70s!). That’s a lot of Zords, a lot of rubber monsters, and — it goes without saying — a lot of spandex.
But since the barn-burning success of the first season (Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers) in 1993, producers have made many attempts to bring the teenagers with attitude to the big screen, with… shall we say, mixed results. Hollywood has made a paltry three attempts to adapt the Rangers to movie screens, all of which have dubious connections to the TV’s decidedly fluid chronology.
With that in mind, we still wanted to honor all of the attempts to break out of their living-room confines with a Power Rangers movie. So we’ve soaked in not just the movies, but the direct-to-DVD movies, compilations of TV storylines into feature-length VHS tapes, reunion specials, and the like, to develop a comprehensive ranking of the Rangers Cinematic Universe even Alpha 5 couldn’t say ‘ai-yi-yi’ to. (Just no fan films; sorry, y’all, Power/Rangers just doesn’t count.)
Power Rangers Super Megaforce: The Legendary Battle (2014)
One of the messiest and most lambasted Rangers seasons (and for a good reason), Power Rangers Super Megaforce chose to honor the show’s 20th anniversary with a huge megabattle featuring basically every Ranger in the show’s history — including all of the old suits from the Super Sentai days.
But throwing every ingredient in the pot doesn’t always make for a tasty dish. The concept of a big battle featuring an army of Rangers sounds cool until the rushed production, nonsensical script, and sparse cameos (only a few legacy Rangers actually show up to lend a hand in person, including Jason David Frank’s soul-patched Tommy) make the whole thing feel like a cheap letdown.
Plus, there are the Megaforce Rangers, one of the blandest teams in franchise history, who aren’t magnetic enough to hold the mess together. Even the home video release, which combines those episodes and throws in some extra footage, can’t make the Legendary Battle feel like more than a skirmish.
As anniversary specials go, Forever Red this ain’t.
Power Rangers Samurai: Clash of The Red Rangers (2011)
Fans regard Power Rangers RPM as one of the best seasons of the franchise, another of those hail-Marys that took advantage of its imminent cancellation to take chances and tell deeper, more complex stories.
Too bad the only glimmer of post-series glory those Rangers had comes in the form of this limp, barely-adapted version of the Sentai crossover film Shinkenger vs. Go-Onger: Ginmaku Bang!!. Instead, it basically plays as an extended episode of Power Rangers Samurai, one of the duller seasons in recent memory.
The only element of an RPM crossover comes from RPM’s Red Ranger, who spends the whole film morphed (guess it was too expensive to fly Eka Darville out for a day to share a set with the Samurai Rangers). Anyone looking for justice for Power Rangers’ scrappiest, most inventive team, look elsewhere.
Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue – Titanium Ranger: Curse of The Cobra (2000)
This list is replete with Americanized Rangers, but for emergency services-themed season Lightspeed Rescue introduced the first totally American-made Power Ranger: The silver Titanium Ranger.
In keeping with a lot of “sixth Ranger” storylines (i.e., the extra Ranger introduced partway through a Power Rangers season, usually a defecting villain or long-lost family member), Titanium Ranger Ryan Mitchell has a dark secret: He’s cursed with a cobra tattoo that slowly moves up his neck every time he morphs. Once it reaches his neck, he’s dead.
The cool idea puts the kind of ticking-clock stakes into Rangerdom that the episodic show doesn’t normally rate (which is why they likely smooshed those episodes together into this direct-to-video feature). Does Ryan morph to save his friends and the world, even if it may cost him his life?
Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue (2000)
Lightspeed Rescue is a fan favorite season for a lot of reasons: It’s the first Ranger team to use entirely manmade powers, its rescue theme is pretty fun, and Carter Grayson stands out as maybe one of the most badass Red Rangers in the show’s history. (His solution: shoot everything!)
Also, the pilot and first three episodes make for a rollicking introduction to the team and their allies/enemies, which is why this compilation is high on our list. It’s lean, efficient, and fun, and that title theme is a guitar-shredding delight.
Power Rangers Zeo: Zeo Quest (1996)
When Saban chose to finally graduate the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers to the new-suit-every-year format of Sentai, they needed a big event to herald it. Cue the Zeo Quest, a multi-part tale in which the original Rangers — all de-aged to tweens and stripped of their powers — go on adventures through time and space to recover various parts of the Zeo Crystal, which will restore them and give them brand new powers.
Combining the end of Mighty Morphin’ and the beginning of Zeo into this feature-length film, it offers a fun, self-contained odyssey that lets the Rangers say goodbye to their dinosaur suits and hello to their new command center and powers (the geometrically-shaped helmets of Zeo).
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Once & Always (2023)
Netflix released an hour-long reunion special that gave many of the surviving original Rangers their due: Once & Always. The results aren’t…great; David Yost and most of the other returning Rangers haven’t exactly taken acting lessons since they left their roles, and the messy victory lap script doesn’t make a lick of sense from moment to moment.
Still, fans can lap up plenty of nostalgia here, from the original Ranger suits to Barbara Goodson returning as the voice of Rita Repulsa (albeit in a robotic form). Also, Walter Emanuel Jones looks like he hasn’t aged a day, and carries the bulk (and skull) of the special on his charismatic shoulders.
Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997)
The one theatrically-released Power Rangers movie to actually stick to the TV show canon, Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, meant to usher in the new car-based season of the show, Power Rangers: Turbo. But it mostly feels like a slightly higher-budget episode of the TV show, and the addition of ten-year-old newcomer Justin (Blake Foster) as the new Blue Ranger always stank of a flagging franchise trying to attract a new generation of viewers.
Still, at least audiences got Hilary Shepard Turner’s Divatox, one of the campiest villains in Ranger history, who’s having a slime of a time in every single scene. Plus, fans got to see what the show would look like if it didn’t have to be filmed in the same two quarries and city parks in Los Angeles.
Power Rangers (2017)
Dean Israelite’s big-budget reboot of Power Rangers sparked controversy on release, and for good reason: It largely ditched the po-faced sincerity and cheesiness of its ‘90s counterpart, replacing the teenagers with attitude with mopey, sulky kids with Real Problems, Man.
And yet, that turned out to be one of the film’s greatest strengths, Power Rangers 2017 turning into a pretty solid teen character drama masquerading as a karate-dinosaur flick. The new cast of kids gave needed dimension to their Rangers (Dacre Montgomery and RJ Cyler as the new versions of Jason and Billy stand out, in particular), and Elizabeth Banks camped it up as a slinky, reptilian take on Rita Repulsa.
If anything, the actual Ranger bits feel like a letdown — the redesigned suits look too busy, and the actual martial arts get swallowed up in a sea of ropey CG. Still, it’s a bummer we didn’t get at least one more crack with this particular Ranger team.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie (1995)
Here’s the one, the only Power Rangers movie anyone really needs to worry about — silly, dumb as a doornail, and heaps of fun. Glomming the six Rangers from the height of the show’s fame (led by Tommy, of course) onto a Star Wars-meets-The-Wizard-of-Oz odyssey was a genius move, and the film made fine use of its updated budget. (We speak not of those creaky chrome CGI Zords.)
Also, by God, we get honest-to-goodness kung fu fighting in this one!
The real MVP, of course, is Paul Freeman’s Ivan Ooze, who knows exactly what kind of claptrap he’s in and relishes every single second of his camp villainy. “Whoo! Where’s my autograph book?” when introduced to the Rangers is a killer line read, and there’s more where that came from every time he’s on screen.
Rangers movies live or die by their villains since, let’s be honest, the show isn’t exactly stuffing Juilliard grads into spandex tights all that often. And Freeman’s Ivan is one for the books.