10 August 2013

TV DVD Review: "Power Rangers Ninja Storm: Prelude to a Storm"

Rated: TV-Y7 for fantasy violence
Starring: Pua Magasiva, Sally Martin, and Glenn McMillan
Released: June 3, 2003 (VHS/DVD)
Synopsis: Shane, Tori, and Dustin are three athletic teenagers who are also friends...and studying to be ninjas! When their Ninja Academy gets destroyed by the evil Lothor, their Sensei gives them morphers, which helps them become...Power Rangers!  However, those three were not exactly the best students.  Will they be able to overcome their fallacies to save our planet from utter destruction? Their adventures start here!

Artistic Merit

Plots: 4/5
The whole "zero to hero" thing has been done a thousand times before, but the three episodes do it quite well.  The cliffhanger ending of the last episode in the set left me wanting more.  However, there's one problem, which happens to be my biggest issue with the series: Tori, the only female Ranger, is annoying.  At first, I just thought it was whoever was doing her voice in the (supposedly) dubbed action sequences; however, by the last episode, she really began to grate on my nerves, masked or unmasked.  It's funny: Since Disney owned Saban at the time this was made, Tori the Blue Ranger--and, the actress who played her, Sally Martin--are Disney ladies...but I don't really like them.

Special Effects: 3.5/5
They're better quality than in the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but the effects are still a bit cheesy.  Still, those who would be the most likely to enjoy a show like this either wouldn't notice or wouldn't care.

Acting: 5/5
No problems here; though Tori was annoying, I have to hand it to Sally Martin for playing an evil version of the Blue Ranger quite well.

Moral Content

Positive Elements: 4/5
The usual "look out for one another" dynamic that you see in group-superhero series is present once again here.  The "Sensei" gives good advice, too, much like Alpha 5 and Zordon did in the original show.  Characters learn the cost of disobeying authority, the value of their friends, etc.

Sexual Content: 4.75/5
Tori, the only female Ranger, wants to be seen as a girl instead of "one of the guys," but that is kept innocent.

Nudity: 4.25/5
In two of the episodes and the opening sequence, Tori is seen in a swimsuit top and board shorts.

Language: 5/5

Violence: 3.5/5
Right from the get-go, viewers see all sorts of "fantasy violence".  A building gets obliterated; kids get captured and imprisoned; villains and heroes attack each other with fantastical weapons.  As one would expect, there's no blood or gore.

Drugs: 5/5

Other: 4/5
Some of the monsters could be a bit frightening to young children.

Conclusion: I'm a longtime fan of Disney.  As a little kid, I watched old Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck cartoons; when I was nine, I became addicted to reruns of Growing Pains on the Mouse Network, and my favorite movies were Flubber and George of the Jungle; in high school, I adored pretty much every live-action sitcom on the Disney Channel, and I still like the ones they have on there today.  So, I was naturally curious to see what the House of Mouse could do with Saban's Power Rangers.  They actually did really well; if only Tori hadn't been so annoying, the series could have been better.  Other volumes in the series are going to prove hard to find, but I still plan to check them out at some point; seeing this makes me excited to see what Disney will do with Star Wars.  (Hopefully, Princess Leia and/or Mara Jade won't be Sally, Version 2.0!)

Score: 4/5

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