Featured TV on DVD Review: Power Rangers: Samurai
Samurai is the nineteenth Power Rangers series in the franchise. Nineteenth. That's just incredible. I wasn't a fan of the original show when it first came out, as I was outside the target demographic. However, I've reviewed a number of these shows over the years, so it shouldn't be too hard to figure how this one will do compared to the others and if fans of the franchise will enjoy this series as well.
In a brief prologue, we learn of Master Xandred, a demon thingy who used Nighloks and his army of Moogers to try and take over Japan in order to flood the world. He was defeated by a group of Samurai. Now many, many generations later in modern times, the Nighloks are back, but there's only the Red Samurai, Jayden, and his mentor, Mentor Ji, to defeat them. He's got the skills and the weapons to fight, but as Mentor Ji tells him, he will need a team of Samurai if he is to win. Fortunately, there is a group of Samurai who have been training their whole lives to become Power Rangers: Mia, the Pink Ranger; Kevin, the Blue Ranger; Emily, the Yellow Ranger; and Mike, the Green Ranger. In the two-part series premiere, we are introduced to the five new Power Rangers, their weapons, discs they stick on their weapons, their elemental powers, their Foldingzords, etc. This doesn't leave a lot of time to deal with characters. Jayden fought alone for so long that he is worried about his ability to lead, but is determined to be a strong leader. Kevin is eager, to be polite, while Mike is a slacker. Emily is unsure of her ability to fight, because it was her sister who was supposed to become the samurai. Mai is... well, after the two-part series premiere, I'm still not sure what her main personality trait is.
We are also re-introduced to Bulk, who, with his partner Skull, were the source of the comic relief for many, many series. Skull isn't back, but he sends his son, Spike, to live with Bulk so Bulk can make something of him. Bulk has decided to train him as a samurai. This will be tricky, as Bulk has no samurai skills. The pair will be little more than comic relief for the next several episodes on the two DVDs released this week.
As for the bad guys, we learn Master Xandred wants to leave the underworld and take over our world. One of his underlings, Octaroo (he's like a cross between Cthulhu and Dr. Seuss. He looks like he has a squid on his head and he talks in rhymes) discovers a way to do this. Human tears flowing into the Sanzu River, which is the river in the underworld that Master Xandred's boat floats along. If enough tears are shed, the river will overflow and flood the real world. So not only does he send his minions to cause large-scale destruction that we see in The Team Unites, but he goes for some emotional damage as well, in Deal With a Nighlok. In the former, we see the team struggle to come together as a team. They accidentally hit each other in combat, remain vulnerable to attacks, and even fail to combine their forms correctly. In the latter, a minion of Master Xandred goes after a young boy as a way of looking to make him cry by making fun of his acting. Sorry, that's what I was doing. He was trying to make the boy give up his dream of playing baseball.
Extras on the first DVD include audition footage, exercises, character galleries, and a dance performance. That's not a lot.
In the first episode of the DVD, Mentor Ji decides to give the team the Day Off. They all run off to an amusement park, except for Jayden, who has a new power disc to deal with. While the gang is at the amusement park, Kevin is worried that this is a test. He claims that samurais never take a day off and by going to the amusement park, they've failed the test. He's half right. It is a test, but Mentor Ji is worried that the group, especially Jayden, has lost the balance in their lifes. Sticks & Stones brings another emotional episode. It focuses on Emily, who is accident prone, and this is causing her confidence to deteriorate. This makes her the perfect victim for Negatron. With Negatron, his insults are just as powerful as sticks and stones. A Fish Out of Water has Kevin, who was training to become an Olympic swimmer before being called to be a Power Ranger, having to try and catch the swordfish Zord, in order to defeat a Nighlok who fights with bad breath. There Go the Brides starts at a wedding between Jayden and Mia. What? We find out it is a trap, as the Dayu are kidnapping brides. The crying brides will help flood the Sanzu River, but she's also using the tears to make her own wedding dress. Something definitely wrong with this one. We are also introduced to Deker, the titular New Enemy for the Power Rangers.
There are a couple minutes of outtakes, while the actors sit down and answer a few questions from fans. There is also a gallery of the weapons.
Like I said, I was not a fan of the original Power Ranger series, mainly because I was too old when it first came out. I've seen several of the most recent ones, and I actually really Liked RPM. As a result, I had high hopes for Power Rangers: Samurai, but sadly, this incarnation is among the worst of the ones I've reviewed. The characters are not as interesting, the acting is much weaker than the previous shows and the action isn't enough. Even the humor was out of place. I know Bulk is a character that's been around since the beginning, but unless he and Spike actually become integral to the plots, they will just ruin the pacing in the show. Finally, I know there's a lot of nostalgia here, but they need to get better special effects, because trying to emulate the original show just makes it look dated. There are some extras on the The Team Unites and A New Enemy DVD releases, but that's not enough for me to recommend them.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2012-06-15