Monday, February 21, 2011

Power Rangers Samurai "Day Off" Episode Review


Yesterday's episode of PR Samurai, Day Off, was the first episode that we truly got dialog from all the main characters and got to see their acting abilities. The episode was based off of Shinkenger's episode 5. For me, it was an ok episode. It was better than the premiere but not as good as last week's episode. The dialog was a bit better, mostly because we got a fair amount of lines from everyone. But once again we got a MOTW that had plenty of cheesy lines, though not as much as the first episode. However, I did think the MOTW's southern accent was pretty cool. I was also waiting for them to shout out "big bad beetlezord" when the Beetlezord was introduced.

Still, the acting just isn't up to par, even by Power Rangers standards. Hector David (Mike) so far seems like the only truly competent actor so far. Alex Heartman (Jayden) and Erika Fong (Mia) are as wooden as a statue and seem to only be reading their lines instead of acting them out. There are many people complaining about Najee De-Tiege's (Kevin) acting, but I actually prefer his acting over Jayden's and Mia's actors. Unlike those two, Najee is actually trying to act. He may be overacting at times, but contrary to what others have said, I think sometimes overacting is better than underacting. At least when someone overacts you get a sense that they are trying to display emotion, where as with underacting characters like Jayden, you just get a blank face. From what I saw of Brittany Pirtle (Emily), I didn't think her acting was bad at all. She was sufficient for the role she got in this episode, though to be honest her lines didn't require a lot of acting talent either. Next week will be her character focus episode, so we'll see how Britanny's acting turns out. Mentor Ji's acting was pretty solid.

The other issue is how to use Bulk and Spike. First I want to say that some of the hatred for Spike on rangerboard is a bit over the top. I don't find him annoying or a "Skull ripoff." He's suppose to be Skull's son and he's acts just like Skull, including all of Skull's quirks such as his laughs. Really, I think if Spike's that annoying, than Skull should be considered likewise. As for Bulk and Spike's parts in this week's episode, it was a flashback to the MMPR opening credits with them eating cotton candy at a fair. A nice little wink at the nostalgic fans. But the problem so far is that unlike MMPR-In Space, there's no real sense of connection to the main plot or interaction with the rangers. It seems like they're just there as fan service. Perhaps this was because Paul Schrier was casted really late to reprise his role as Bulk, so hopefully we'll actually see them interact with the main characters eventually.

Friday, February 18, 2011

How Dekaranger and SPD Handled Criminals Differently


In Dekaranger its Power Rangers counterpart, SPD, both series are based around police academies. This involved the MOTW being the criminal of the week, and having to do police work to capture and/or punish criminals. There's been some controversy between fans of each series on how each show carried out the punishment.

In both shows they would ask a higher court on their morphers to pass judgement on the criminals. In Dekaranger, a guilty verdict usually meant that the criminal was to be "deleted," basically the death penalty. In SPD, a criminal would just simply be contained, usually in something that looks more like your average baseball card. Some Power Ranger fans have called Dekaranger's method of deleting the fugatives to be "disturbing," especially for a kids show. While often Dekaranger fans will accuse SPD's method of simply containing the criminals as watering down the source material.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with how Dekaranger handled the execution of fugatives on their show. The death penalty is legal in Japan, as it is in most U.S. states. Furthermore, it's not like they're deleting simple bank robbers. Every criminal they deleted in some way or form either committed mass murder and/or destroyed multiple planets. When they would face an alienizer who committed a lesser offense (like Kasasu in episode 6, who simply destroyed cars) they would simply contain them instead of deleting them. Furthermore, the arguement doesn't hold firm that this shouldn't be on a kids show. Dekaranger is a Japanese kids show, and in Japan they have a greater acceptance of violence being shown on kids shows. It also really has done nothing to influence crime in Japan, which has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Thus also disproving that American misconceptions and phobias about violence on TV (and video games for that matter) leading to crime among the youth. Super Sentai has had much more violent seasons than Dekaranger (especially Jetman, Dairanger, and Timeranger).

As for how SPD handled their containment of criminals, I do kinda agree that it looks a little bit ridiculous to just contain them in baseball cards, especially since destroying monsters in every other season except for Time Force is the norm. However, from what I understand this was also forced upon them by Disney, which is nothing new since Disney tries to water down just about every series or movie to make it appealing to young audiences. So while it does look funny, especially after blowing them up, you can't blame the producers of SPD since they were forced to do this by Disney. Had Saban been in charge of SPD, it may have been different, but that is an "if."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Power Rangers Samurai Episode 2 Review "Deal With"


After a rather crappy premier, the second episode of Samurai was actually much better than the first. We still haven't gotten any kind of background story that we would normally get from the first couple of episodes. From what I hear, Nickelodeon is prone to airing the actual first episode in the middle of the season. I don't know why, it doesn't really make any sense. But in the second episode, which focused on Kevin and Mia, was a big improvement from the first. The episode was of course another copy and paste job from its Sentai counterpart, but it did have a little originality to it. The kid's father in this one was an army soldier who was away on service. The originality I did like was that Kevin has a dream as being an olympic swimmer, which I feel suits him well since his elemental power is water. This week's MOTW didn't have the same cheesy lines as the previous one, and Najee De-Tiege's acting was much better than it was in the first episode. Still, Erica Fong's acting can improve some and the child actor like most child actors on Power Rangers, was terrible. The dialog can still use some improvement as well. For example, hearing Mia shout out "unforgivable" in English just doesn't sound as emphatic as "yurusenai" in Japanese. Overall I think the episode was pretty descent.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Power Rangers Samurai Premeir Review, "The Team Unites"

Warning, Spoilers Below.

I have to admit, I'm not totally pleased with the premier of Power Rangers Samurai. First, the premier felt so out of place. It felt like it was a character focus episode, several episodes into the series instead of the first episode. We only got introduced to one, maybe two characters. We didn't get no real backstory of how the story begins or anything. We got a brief trailer at the beginning, but hardly anything was revealed. In RPM for example, while the premier mostly focused on Dillion, we did get an introduction of all the other characters and a background story about the Venjix Virus taking over the world as well as a battle scene between the Corinth army and the Venjix army.

As I've said before I'm not really a fan of copying and pasting plots straight from the Sentai source material, however, I have come around to accept that PR Samurai is going to follow Shinkenger's story very closely. I'll wait and see how they handle the source material. But to start off, it was rough. First, if you're going to copy the story don't leave the good stuff out. I mean, in the original Shinkenger episode (which was episode 3), Chiaki had his problems. He was undisciplined, a bit of a jerk, and had conflicts with both Takeru and Ryuunosuke. By the end of the episode we start to see a maturity in Chiaki. On Samurai, we see none of that for Mike. Sure he had to deal with departing from his friends, but Chiaki had to deal with that and more. The dialog on the otherhand was mostly original. However it was rather cheesy, especially from the MOTW.

The other major issue was the acting. Hector David Jr. who plays Mike/Samurai Green who got the focus episode, was actually pretty good. Felix Ryan did a good job in his scene as Spike and convinced me that he was Skull's son. Paul Shrier was just as awesome playing Bulk now as he was in MMPR. However, Jayden played by Alex Heartman, was incredibly wooden. Najee De-Tiege, who plays Kevin, also had a poor performance in the few lines he had. I wasn't really impressed with Rene Naufahu's acting as Mentor Ji either, even though in SPD he did a good job voicing Emperor Grumm. There wasn't really many scenes or lines for Britney Pirtle's or Erika Fong's characters, so I can't really comment on their acting. From the villains, I didn't really like any of the voice acting, except from the MOTW but he had a lot of cheesy lines.

Besides the story being out of place and problems with the acting, there were some little things I took issue with. This included the morphing call "go go Samurai" being rather lame, and the armor that the rangers wore in the cockpit but not during battle.

Now for the good stuff. Visually, the episode was excellent. It spliced the Sentai footage with the American footage really well to the point that if I hadn't watched Shinkenger first, I wouldn't be able to tell the footage apart. The American footage was actually pretty good. I do appreciate that they're trying to tap into the nolstagia, with the theme song being a remix of the original "Go Go Power Rangers." The instrumental version of the song is actually pretty good, and is definitely an upgrade after successive seasons of terrible theme songs such as Mystic Force, Operation Overdrive, Jungle Fury, and RPM. It's also fun to have Bulk back and his lone scene with Spike was really the highlight of the episode. I do like that they kept the Kanji in the morphing sequence and the summoning of the zords. I guess that proved it's not "too Japanese" to be adapted.

Overall, I feel the premier was a dissapointment, but it is just the first episode. I've seen many shows, especially Power Rangers and Sentai, that have gotten a lot better after the first handful of episodes.