One of the interesting challenges any qualified reviewer faces is having to step outside his (or her) comfort zone in order to evaluate a movie, TV show, book, or other product that otherwise may’ve not fallen into his field of interest. In other words, we’re often times taxed with examining a genre we’re entirely unfamiliar with in order to do our jobs. This doesn’t mean that we’re incapable or unqualified to conduct such a review; rather, it actually challenges us to see beyond the conventions of regular storytelling in order to find what distinguishes one work (of art) from the next; or, in some cases, it challenges us to comes to grips fairly quickly with a story that perhaps makes much less sense to us precisely because we’re unfamiliar with the various back-stories or history of the project in order to, rather simply, give it a ‘thumbs up’ or a ‘thumbs down.’
It may not be a perfect solution, but those of us who do this regularly take it seriously … but taking so much of POWER RANGERS: CLASH OF THE RED RANGERS seriously might cause damage to one’s brain.
(NOTE: The following review may contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
I’m aware of the POWER RANGERS franchise. What I know is that it’s geared toward children – after viewing CLASH, I’d have to assume it was very young children – and I know it narratively combines several genres of Japanese cinema … namely kid’s programming, the action/adventure movie, and samurai films … so you thank your lucky stars that it doesn’t include pinky or hentai flicks. (And kids, I’m a connoisseur of legitimate samurai films, so, when you’re old enough, you can check out my reviews for some of those films to recommend.) Also, I’ve read enough to know that there’s been some ado made about the predilection for excessive violence and dramatic imagery within the whole Power Rangers universe … but, parents, I’m here to say that I found most of CLASH pretty benign.
Also, I can’t see CLASH as any jumping on point for new viewers, though that may be its honest intent – to bring a new legion of fans to Saban’s growing license. That’s never a bad thing, but there’s clearly an awful lot of material missing from this story that is definitely needed for it to make perfect sense. I’d imagine that long-time viewers – assuming they haven’t outgrown this property – will find plenty to love in here; it left me pretty cold.
As for the story, let me give it the sailor’s try …
A new Red Ranger – this one more of a gunslinger than a traditional samurai – appears on the horizon, and, while the existing color-coded multi-cultural tween task force is quick to embrace a new ally, he’d rather keep them at arm’s length. Because they’ve stayed tried and true to older influences – like traditional samurai would – this Red Ranger shuns them. But, before it’s all over, he’ll learn the value of teamwork when he takes to their sides in order to vanquish the dreaded Professor Cog.
Now, if that makes perfect sense to you, then you’re most likely the target audience for this flashy, pyrotechnics-driven vehicle. If not, then you’d do best to avoid it. In all seriously, it’s meant for kids – don’t look for it to make for any grand sweeping epic – and, at 45 minutes, it probably clocks in at a length they’d enjoy. Kids’ll marvel over the action, but its wire-fu will no doubt have adults seeing red. It’s chocked full of wonderfully cheesy costumes and special effects, and it’s overflowing with corny dialogue and even cornier right choreography.
Like any good educational commodity would, it tries to combine all of the colors of the rainbow into its multi-culturalism. There’re a few white kids, joined by a Japanese girl, a Hispanic, and a black kid, so as not to offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities. Heck, I think I even detected a bit of a mustache on the little blonde girl, so maybe they’re covering that base as well these days. I have no problem with it whatsoever; I just thought it so obvious it deserved a mention.
SABAN’S POWER RANGERS: CLASH OF THE RED RANGERS: THE MOVIE is produced by Saban Brands, and DVD distribution is being handled through Lionsgate. As for the technical specifications, it all looks and sounds phenomenal – no expense has been spared, though a few brain cells may’ve been damaged – in producing this special ‘movie event,’ which is part of the ongoing POWER RANGERS SAMURAI television program. To its credit, the disk comes with a handful of special features, including some ‘Power Ranger’ exercises, audition tapes, bloopers, and a music video. None too shabby for young minds who are interested.
RECOMMENDED only for regular viewers of POWER RANGERS or POWER RANGERS SAMURAI as methinks the rest of us will be lost in translation.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Lionsgate provided me with an advance DVD screener of CLASH OF THE RED RANGERS: THE MOVIE by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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