Thursday, February 27, 2014

PRSM #02 "EARTH FIGHTS BACK": Forced From the Future

Great episode. I enjoyed the sweet unmorphed fighting, how the plot was adapted and Troy being separated from the others. While morphing into Megaforce first is still stupid, it does force them to do more of their own stuff which I like.

The season intro is actually pretty good this year. Great shots of Samurai, the Wind Rangers, original Mighty  Morphin and Wild Force teams.

As usual the Rangers are on their own and report to Tensou and Gosei who is shown not saying a word. Geez.

Tensou must've done some serious morphing grid hacking to create the database. I loved it when they used RPM and finished off with SPD. "Mastering" the power and earning the zord for it is pretty reasonable to me now that we're past that these aren't season tributes. I'd take this over when they "earned" the cards last year. And I was relived "Carzord" was just a dumb nickname, not official.

As I expected, Vekar throwing a hissy fit all season has begun. Plus the use of the mall and extras was great. This would've been near perfect if it wasn't for the awkward DaiRanger part and replacing a name with Gia's "Bring on the new powers!" (or much explanation). But this episode did set Megaforce records, so it still gets a good 4/5.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Super Mega Dino Charged Weekend

What a double-whammy THAT was - the Dino Charge press release breaking the same day uploaded the Super Megaforce premiere. My reaction to the news was similar to when word originally broke that Goseiger was being adapted, but this was heightened by the fact we had never had a new season announcement quite so early or that a sentai would be skipped over (though of course the Go-Buster suits could still get used).

I've never liked the suits on the core 5 Kyoryugers, the samba theme or goofy looking villains, so I hope Saban does put in some originality as is implied (but we all know how much Tzachor's prefers ripping the sentai). I do like the name and the logo is a welcome change after the bland (Super) Megaforce. Also I wonder if they'd consider adapting the teamup for MMPR nostalgia and since DinoThunder is specifically mentioned in the press release.

Now onto the premiere...

Knowing that we were gonna have "real" villains this year, I was excited when the episode started with Vekar and gang inside the ship. I miss the dragon symbol as a segue into the opening, otherwise it looks good with some sweet unmorphed fighting in the cast shots. I like that they spaced it out more and put the girls back-to-back. Nice touch having White Ranger start the helmet animation.

I hoped the Rangers would still be out there when we'd see them again, instead of just cutting to Emma in the mall. Noah finding Mr. Burley and then Burley thinking back to what Blue Ranger said to get inspiration to teach again at the end of the episode would've made more sense to me than how they did it. It left the callback to "MEGA MISSION" kinda empty without seeing Burley prior to it and so little of the school. I did like the Rangers coming in the command center after one another - I just wish we had seen more beforehand and helping civilians.

I loved the way they did the ADR for the weapons swapping, so it didn't come off as weird to me that they're suddenly gonna be switching all the time (plus the Gokai footage is always fun to watch). But it got outta hand with rushing through all the mode changes. They could've done more to show they were having trouble controlling the powers or had a quick line to setup how powerful using Super Mega Mode would be. Also I like that they say the morph call and I see why they might sometimes skip it mid-battle (or in the case of Ninja Storm not doing the Ninja Storm/Thunder Storm calls).

Despite the how much "Super Mega" will be thrown around I'm just glad we don't have to put up with the cards and sentai weapon/zord names being used anymore. Using Gokaiger will automatically make the episodes better so I'll probably lean more on the generous side this year, however it's still Megaforce so I doubt the Rangers have learned much or Gosei will stop leaving them on their own most of the time. But to start the season this gets a good 4/5.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Megaforce Mega Wrap-up

As the season winded down I kept hoping for something excellent (and I realize with "DREAM SNATCHER" I was really pushing it, giving it a 5), but the episodes just continued to be below the mark for one reason or another...

"THE HUMAN CONDITION" was a good intro to Metal Alice and Vrak's underwater base. I loved the footage matching later in the episode. 4/5. I just wish the robots had come sooner.

In "RICO THE ROBOT" I was glad they finally gave Malkor something to do and verification he was waiting for "the others." I really liked the spot on ship recreation when he entered the cocoon. Unfortunately it was all downhill from there. Going back to In Space, I've never liked episodes where the monster (or robot) of the day turns good. The message in this was confusing, no thanks to a couple questionable lines and I cringed everytime Rico spoke, and him being treated like a child. Not even a comment from Tensou. 2/5

"STAYING ON TRACK" was on track for most of the episode, despite some superfluous. Great scenes with the Rangers in the beginning and Robo Knight trying to learn. In PR's world I can buy that trains are relied on more. I just thought it was funny - the NZ kid with the American-speaking parents, and RK wrapping his head around the concept of "missing someone."

Vrak and Metal Alice make a much better team than the mutants and Insectoids, plus it's nice having more originality with him still in his normal form. And I didn't mind the Rangers wasting time staring at their cards with the train coming so much as another case of the U.S. name not matching the card. 4/5

"THE HUMAN FACTOR" started out pretty good. I enjoyed the last few original scenes on the ship, while RK went around to the Rangers. The people being afraid of him was kind of lame but I liked how he went to the school and the library. It was about the most decent plot RK's had and following cell phone procedures as a means for him to not have his morpher worked well.

Also I loved how only Gosei knew who Malkor was. The fight could've been awesome if they had done a new shot of the Rangers briefly using Ultra Mode or if he had taken it offline with an attack (which is something a Kalish season wouldn't have overlooked). But no. Not even a demorph?! And he's supposed to be all-powerful? 3.5/5. I wouldn't call it a bad episode, just a poor choice to directly translate the fight with Malkor, when they knew it was an earlier Goseiger episode.

"THE MESSENGER" was weakened early by Troy's usual brooding over his dreams, excessive dialogue and the Rangers (as usual) looking like they don't know anything. Gosei shoud've warned them Alice could still be a threat instead of them just writing her off. I felt like the little celebration in the command center (with the team recalling some of the villains) and freaking out when Cyborg Vrak appeared could've gone differently.

The episode did pick up. I liked how Vrak regained his alien voice once he remembered who he was, though I kind of wish it hadn't been resolved so fast. Just dismissing the Rangers to clear the armada to come in was great. This is why he's awesome. Also I thought it was cool they (much like the Rangers) thought Vrak had perished. I hope we'll see Veker's reaction, assuming they had planned on going on without him. Half of this was pretty standard Megaforce, but the rest was pretty good. 4/5 

I went into "END GAME" wondering if it'd be rushed but it was pretty much what I expected. I loved how the Messenger came out and parted the sea and I liked how RK used himself to powerup the morphers (which I thought was a nice end for the character this year), but eh... Messenger was restored pretty fast and the sky vortex was odd.

The final morph was one of my favorites in 20 years. I enjoyed the creative shots for the end of the season, as well as the explosions throughout. And almost thought Metal Alice would live to see another day, and though it was quick I did like that her death showed how cold-hearted Vrak is.

Since PR is normally a toy commercial, I'm glad the zords weren't shown for the last 2 episodes. Now I just hope they bother to explain the Super Mega zords being more powerful, since they should still be able to use the Mechazords. Also, very nice transition of footage at the end. I wonder how long they'll be out there before they get the new powers. It probably won't happen but original footage of an armada general telling Troy to stop looking for RK would be rad.

Last but not least, Gosei yelling at the Rangers to morph was awesome, though they really should've had a command center scene earlier in the episode (and there was enough they could've spared to include it). The fact they left the invasion as something Troy (and presumably Gosei) knew about but never shared is the biggest problem. But as for the episode, it raised the stakes for the season premiere (which will probably default back to Megaforce-level after) and was definitely one of the better episodes. 4/5

After dealing with two years of Samurai, I honestly didn't think it could get worse - even after being so sure Gokaiger was being adapted suddenly vanished when news of the change to Goseiger first came out. While some aspects were improved on, the season introduced new problems. The team has a much weaker foundation in the underused Gosei, and Troy (who doesn't count), than Mentor and Jayden. On multiple occasions they've looked incompetent and the writers totally blew it with Troy - dropping his background from script and keeping the dreams. But the rest of the cast has shown they can actually act and there were several fun unmorphed scenes, especially at Ernie's. They could've done a lot more with Mr. Burley and the school as well but at least having him, and Ernie, was an improvement.

Although Samurai was closer to the sentai, there were more creative moments making for some great episodes that stood out. Here, it didn't happen. I did enjoy a lot of the footage matching, set recreations, repurposing Goseiger's robots footage and the armada arrival, but most of the originality was limited to the Halloween and Christmas specials. "THE ROBO KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS" did a great job of focusing on an original story for RK and made the season look better than it even was. The rest was pretty much long fights and plots pulled from Goseiger, which weren't adapted as closely but didn't always look that good either. The toxic mutant arc was tough to get through at times and Robo Knight's journey of becoming a decent "RoboCop" 6th Ranger was long and pretty rocky early on. And I didn't care that Malkor never did much since this wasn't another Xandred - just holding down the fort for the armada. Vrak meanwhile, kept things interesting and was one of the few savings graces.

I'll give Megaforce a slight grade above Samurai/Super Samurai but in terms of individual episodes it would be on the bottom. And it's doubtful that'll change much as Super Megaforce is looking like it'll have the same problems with dialog over everything and directly adapting scenes instead of reshooting or editing. The footage will at least be fun to watch and I'm looking forward to Silver Ranger's extended intro and the final episode mega war, which I'm sure will continue to be leaked by JDF in the coming months. I'll remain optimistic that a few tribute episodes won't be bad and I'll trust Jason Smith's writing ability over most others.

Ranger Bar's finale discussion: