CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: VR TROOPERS – SANTA’S SECRET TROOPER

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CAST

Brad Hawkins (Boyhood)
Michael Bacon (Tao of Karate)
Sarah Brown (Birds of Prey)
Julian Combs (Jellyscream!)
Richard Rabago (Redemption)
Kerrigan Mahan (Power Rangers Lost Galaxy)
Farrand Thompson (Twin Sitters)
Aaron Pruner (The Divine Tragedies)
T.J. Storm (Punisher: Warzone)
Kristin Norton (Live Virgin)
Michael Sorich (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
David Carr (Hollywood Love)
Robert von Fliss(Masked Rider)

The Troopers are celebrating Christmas at Tao’s dojo. They are singing Christmas songs and cutting down trees. Your typical Saban Christmas. Thankfully it’s not a clip show. The Troopers and some kids meet an elf named Otto who works at the North Pole. I believe he was absent from I’m Dreaming of a White Ranger. I should note that V.R. Troopers plays like an episode of Power Rangers, but not as fun. The evil Grimlord. wants to kidnap the elf since he can grant wishes. I didn’t know elves had that power. Why didn’t Hermey the Elf just wish to be a dentist? The foot soldiers for Grimlord kidnap the elf and the bad guys mock him and make him grant a wish. The elf brings the Troopers to the bad guy’s lair and the elf took away their powers. I’m glad they had a good excuse for a reason to not let the Troopers morph. It’s a Saban tradition to not have a morphed fight in Christmas specials. The elf ends up tricking Grimlord into saying he wished he never met the elf and all is happily ever after. The kids are happy to see the elf back and they celebrate Christmas! Tao says they celebrate all religions actually once again proving that old school Saban cared more about other religions. Santa Claus shows up….and it’s the same Santa from I’m Dreaming of a White Ranger! Continuity! Power Rangers and V.R. Troopers take place in the same universe! Ryan’s father also shows up at the end and I’m guessing he had been gone for awhile. They sing one more song and Santa’s sleigh flies in front of the moon.
It’s actually very  entertaining. It’s fun in a cheesy way and I’d say it’s better than most Christmas specials.
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REVIEW: SHREDDER

CAST
Scott Weinger (Fuller House)
Lindsey Mckeon (Veronica Mars)
Juleah Weikel (Girl Fever)
Billy O’ Sullivan (I’m Still Waiting For You)
Brad Hawkins (VR Troppers)
Holly Towne (Bring It On again)
Candace Moon (Speed Demon)
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Chad (Elliot Olson) is snowboarding down a mountain, when suddenly a skier dressed in black attacks him. Chad attempts to get away, but is decapitated by a piece of wire strung up between two trees. Meanwhile, college student Kimberly (Lindsey McKeon) is going on a trip to an abandoned ski resort, which her father will be buying soon, with her boyfriend Cole (Scott Weinger), cousin Pike (Juleah Weikel), and friends Skyler (Billy O’Sullivan), Robyn (Holly Towne) and Kirk (Peter Riggs). While stopping off at a gas station, the group bump into the European Christophe (Brad Hawkins), who they quickly invite along with them. Cole and Skyler go back into town to retrieve beer, but are warned away from the resort by a bartender, Bud (Ron Varela). Skyler also briefly meets Bud’s daughter Shelly (Candace Moon) to whom he takes a liking. Arriving back at the resort, the group partake in drinking games until the town Sheriff (Seth Reston) shows up. Kimberly and Robyn manage to bribe him to let them stay there for the night, however as the Sheriff leaves the cabin he is stabbed to death. Kimberly then tells the others that a few years previous, a group of snowboarders murdered a young girl at the resort, and that’s why it had closed down.
The next day, the group go snowboarding. Kirk stumbles upon a small building hidden in the mountain. As he enters to investigate, he is stabbed in the stomach with an icicle by the killer. Meanwhile, Skyler bumps into Shelly while she ski’s. The two get on well and decide to stick together, but Bud appears and sends Shelly home. As Robyn uses the chairlift, the killer boards with her before attempting to throw her off. Robyn fights back and manages to push him off the chairlift, but as she prepares to deboard her scarf wraps around the handle and she is hanged as the lift drags her off the ground.
At the cabin, Skyler meets up with Cole and Pike, before the trio stumble upon the Sheriff’s body. The group are quick to suspect Christophe as the murderer, and set off to warn the others. While searching, they find the little girl preserved in ice, and Skyler is stabbed in the leg with an axe by the killer, but manages to escape. Kimberly and Christophe find a hot tub, where Kimberly discovers Christophe was at the resort when the little girl was murdered, and that all other witnesses had been murdered. Christophe suspects Bud for the previous killings, as to get revenge for the death of his youngest daughter. Kimberly and Christophe then begin to have sex. Cole soon sees the pair and angrily leaves, prompting Kimberly to follow him. After they leave, Christophe is beaten to death with a shovel. Returning to the cabin, the survivors find the car has been broken and the dead bodies of their friends lined up in the snow. In the cabin, the group tend to Skyler’s leg. Cole and Pike go outside to fix the car, leaving Kimberly and Skyler in the cabin. The killer sneaks inside and murders Skyler, stabbing him through the eye with a ski pole. Kimberly hides from the killer in a cupboard, where she finds Chad’s body. The killer manages to break in the cupboard and stabs Kimberly with a poker. Cole rushes inside, but finds Kimberly dead before the killer locks him in the cabin.
Outside, Pike fixes the car. The killer swiftly attacks her however, and in a panic she crashes the car before the killer hits her in the head. Cole manages to get outside and finds Pike persumably dead. Cole travels up the mountain, taunting the killer. He is soon shot at by a figure, revealed to be Bud. Bud tells Cole he simply wanted to scare the group away from the area, but Cole tries to escape. Bud chases him on a snowmobile, and is quickly decapitated by a piece of wire strung up between two trees. Cole then makes his way into town. After entering an alley, he becomes trapped as the killer drives a large shredding truck to block his path. The killer reveals herself to be Shelly, who wants to get revenge for the death of her younger sister. As she is about to murder Cole, Pike shows herself to be alive, shoots Shelly who then falls into the shredder. Cole and Pike leave the town and persumably start a relationship.
This is a good slasher film, and I thought it was well directed. The storyline is very much typical of the slasher genre, but I did enjoy watching it. Quite good acting, and a few jumps along the way. well worth getting this if you like slasher films.

REVIEW: POWER RANGERS – SEASON 4-7

CAST

Catherine Sutherland (The Cell)
Nakia Burrise (Bones)
Steve Cardeans (A Brother’s Badge)
Johnny Yong Bosch (Marvel Anime: BLade)
Jason David Frank (The One Warrior)
David Yost (Degenerat)
Paul Schrier (Wicked Games)
Jason Narvy (Masked Rider)
Gregg Bullock (Evil Acts)
Richard Genelle (The Death Merchant)
Austin St. John (Footsteps)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Carla Perez (VR Troopers)
Richard Steven Horvitz (The Angry Beavers)
Robert Axelrod (The Blob)
Kerrigan Mahan (Dr. Dolittle)
David Senstrom (Masked Rider)
Alex Borstein (Family Guy)
Traci Belushi (Big Bad Beetleborgs)
Bob Papenbrook (Jeepers Creepers 2)
Karim Prince (Buffy)
Barbara Goodson (Akira)
Sarah Brown (VR Troopers)
Brad Hawkins (VR Troopers)
Rajia Baroudi (Starship: Rising)
Royce Herron (Rocky Road)
David Bacon (Hidden Passion)

Power Rangers: Zeo is possibly Power Rangers at it’s best (or Power Rangers in Space). Although the original costumes, command center, zords, and villains have become the main icons for Power Rangers, I personally love the costumes, zords, the power chamber (wow, it looks so cool), and the new villains. The Machine Empire are very entertaining villains, but we get the feeling that they’re also very evil. During the first portion of the show, before we get much storyline, the episodes are absolutely fantastic. It’s great. We then start to move away from individual episodes to having more storyline in the overall show when Tommy goes on a personal journey, and we find out about his brother. We then get a bunch of episodes about the mysterious gold ranger, and as soon as we find out who he is, Jason returns and gets the powers. We then see the Machine Empire changing leaders around, until the final couple of episodes. Power Rangers: Zeo also includes my favorite Power Rangers Christmas/Holiday special, one that celebrates the many different holiday.

CAST

Catherine Sutherland (The Cell)
Nakia Burrise (Bones)
Johnny Yong Bosch (Marvel Anime: BLade)
Jason David Frank (The One Warrior)
Blake Foster (Kid’s World)
Paul Schrier (Wicked Games)
Jason Narvy (Masked Rider)
Gregg Bullock (Evil Acts)
Tracy Lynn Cruz (Eastside)
Roger Velasco (Castle Rock)
Patricia Ja Lee (Hollywood Kills)
Selwyn Ward (A Simple Promise)
Hilary Shepard (Full House)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Steven Horvitz (The Angry Beavers)
Steven Cardenas (A Brother’s Badge)
Lesley Pedersen (Hot Air)
Royce Herron (Rocky Road)
Carol Hoyt (Sasori In USA)
Bob Papenbrook (Jeepers Creepers 2)
Kristina Anapau (Cursed)
Ali Afshar (MAsked Rider)
Ken Merckz (Orgazmo)
Barret Swatek (2 Broke Girls)

Power Rangers: Turbo is considered by many fans to be one of the worst. However, I think it had some fantastic episodes, and even though it wasn’t always as epic as previous seasons, it was still very enjoyable. With Turbo, they’re up against a whiny woman with her clumsy henchmen, and they have new car-themed powers. Although the new villain, Divatox, is nowhere near as menacing as the Machine Empire (or even Rita and Zedd), she and her henchmen always entertain the audience. Their car-themed powers might seem to be a step down from the previous season, but their equipment proves itself to be very useful for these newer situations. Also, a lot of fans might have complained about the newest member of the team being a twelve-year-old boy, but he actually proves himself to be extremely competent. I also think it had a great movie to start it out, which isn’t included in this boxed set, but you should buy it. We have some pretty good episodes at the beginning, and then there is a switchover of rangers. Except for Justin, the kid, all the previous rangers are replaced. The new team is TJ, Cassie, Carlos, Ashley, and, as already mentioned, Justin. We don’t get major introductions to them before they become rangers although Carlos and Ashley appear in a couple of episodes beforehand. However, we get to know them well when they become rangers, and there are some pretty good episodes here. The story-arcs are not my personal favorites, but the individual episodes are mostly great, especially around the end. Although Turbo is not a favorite amongst fans, I find it to be very enjoyable, and a great set-up to the next season. It ends with a two-parter called Chase Into Space, where all of the rangers, except for Justin, leave Earth.

CAST

Christopher Khayman Lee (That 70s Show)
Tracy Lynn Cruz (Eastside)
Roger Velasco (Castle Rock)
Patricia Ja Lee (Hollywood Kills)
Selwyn Ward (A Simple Promise)
Paul Schrier (Wicked Games)
Jason Narvy (Masked Rider)
Melody Perkins (Coyote Ugly)
Hilary Shepard (Full House)
Justin Nimmo (Dude, Where’s My Car?)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Johnny Yong Bosch (Marvel Anime: Blade)
Blake Foster (Kid’s World)
Carla Perez (VR Troopers)
Richard Steven Horvitz (The Angry Beavers)
Robert Axelrod (The Blob)
Barbara Goodson (Akira)
David Senstrom (Masked Rider)
Aloma Wright (Scrubs)
Jack Banning (Top Dog)
Ali Afshar (Masked Rider)
Ken Merckz (Orgazmo)
Jack Donner (Stigmata)

Power Rangers in Space is possibly my favorite, and a favorite for many other fans as well. Zeo is definitely a close second for me, but Power Rangers in Space takes things to a whole new level. The four rangers that replaced the previous rangers in Turbo join up with a ranger from outer space, named Andros. They have high-tech (mostly computer-based) powers, and they regularly travel space. The storyline is large. Power Rangers: Turbo ends where Zordon (who gave them their powers at the beginning) is captured by the monarch of all evil. Power Rangers in Space begins where the villains for all of the previous shows are together at a feast. We are introduced to the new villain, Astronema. Although she is joined by Elgar, the most clumsy henchman, from the previous season, we get the addition of Ecliptor, possibly one of the most impressive henchmen that we’ve seen so far. He’s show to be stronger than any of the other henchmen they’ve been up against, and his relationship with Astronema is much more complex than what we have had so far in Power Rangers.

We are also introduced to Darkonda, possibly the most evil of the villains we’ve had. He and Ecliptor also are rivals with each other, and we get something much more complex than heroes vs. villains. It gets even more complex when we find out that Astronema is Andros’ long lost sister, Karone, and Ecliptor even helps her help the rangers. However, the two of them are brainwashed, and we then get evil power rangers. There is a fantastic story-arc here about the psycho rangers. In previous seasons, we’ve seen evil power rangers, but those rangers were fairly easy to defeat. The psycho rangers, however, are difficult to defeat. Another major part of the storyline is their search for Zordon throughout space. This season ends with a resolution to all of the previous seasons of Power Rangers resolved. Usually for closing seasons (which this was partially meant to be), they regularly bring back people from all the previous seasons to reflect on the show. However, I’m, in many ways, glad that they didn’t do that. There was a little bit of that, but mostly not. This was an amazing season, and it ended the continuous storyline.

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CAST

Danny Slavin (Boy Next Door)
Archie Kao (CSI)
Reggie Rolle (Buds for Life)
Valerie Vernon (Power Rangers Time Force)
Cerina Vincent (7 Mummies)
Paul Schrier (Wicked Games)
Jack Banning (Top Dog)
Amy Miller (Rock Star)
Melody Perkins (Coyote Ugly)
Russell Lawrence (The Young and The Restless)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Jason Narvy (Masked Rider)
Tom Whyte (Touched By An Angel)
Bob Papenbrook (Jeepers Creepers 2)
Kerrigan Mahan (Dr. Dolittle)
Ken Merckx (Orgazmo)
Tracy Lynn Cruz (Eastside)
Roger Velasco (Castle Rock)
Patricia Ja Lee (Hollywood Kills)
Selwyn Ward (A Simple Promise)
Carol Hoyt (Sasori In USA)
Rajia Baroudi (Starship: Rising)

Lost Galaxy really has a lot of good upside to it, despite some of its flaws and occasional spotty writing. This season was one of the darkest, with more casualties in this season than any other season, with notable casualties including Kendrix and the Magna Defender (first two rangers to be killed in battle), and the Magna Defender’s son, Zika. Lost Galaxy has a strong cast with some very likable characters such as Leo, Kai, Kendrix, Karone, Maya, and the Magna Defender. While I typically don’t like seeing copy and paste story arcs from the Sentai counterpart, I felt the story surrounding the Magna Defender, Mike, and Leo which was coppied from Gingaman, was well done and fit in really well with the Lost Galaxy story, especially considering Leo’s character, how he cared for his brother, and snuck onto Terra Venture initially. Also adding to the story was the excellent team-up with In Space, the story surrounding Kendrix’s death (unfortunate due to her actress Valarie Varone having leukimia), and Karone’s story as her replacement. Many of the villains are awesome and sympathetic, such as Trakeena, Villamax, and Deviot. The final battle was pretty good as well. Fight scenes were awesome and even the American footage was good during this season. This season’s theme song was also really cool.

REVIEW: VR TROOPERS – SEASON 1 & 2

VR Troopers: Season 1, Vol.1

MAIN CAST

Brad Hawkins (Power Rangers Zeo
Michael Bacon
Sarah Brown (Birds of Prey)
Gardner Baldwin (Masked Rider)
Julian Combs (Jellyscream!)
Richard Rabago ( Magic Kid 2)
Aron Pruner (The Divine Tragedies)
Kerrigan Mahan (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Michael Sorich (Bad Reception)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Farrand Thompson (Twin Sitters)
Randy Swerdlick (Poweer Rangers Lost Galaxy)
Brandon Gaines (Superfights)
Davild Milburn (The Unsaid)
Sonja Ecker (Scarecrow)
Don Yanan (The Muppets)
Wendee Lee (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Ashton McArn (Masked Rider)
Glen McDougal (Water for Elephants)
T.J. Storm (Punisher: Warzone)
Kristin Norton (Monkeybone)
Tyffany Hayes (Sweet Valley High)

As a child, I always looked forward to catching VR Troopers after school. I was always excited to see how Ryan, Kaitlin, and JB would foil Grimlord’s latest evil scheme. This was a show that I loved so much, and for many years I have been praying for a DVD release. Thanks to Shout Factory, that dream has finally come true, and for VR Trooper fans such as myself, the long wait was definitely worth it.

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The show is still as wonderful as I remember it, with its action-packed battles providing a lot of excitement and story lines regarding friendship, teamwork, etc. that still hold up well today. Ryan was and still is my favorite Trooper, though Kaitlin and JB are also pretty cool. Grimlord, and his human alter-ego Karl Ziktor, are effectively creepy, and his many mutant minions are equally menacing. Jeb, the talking dog, provides the best comic relief on the show. Many of the other characters such as Tao and Professor Hart are also as appealing now as they were all those years ago. The only regular character I could never stand was Percy, who I felt was quite an annoyance, but just about all the other characters are awesome to some extent.

The episodes on this set (26 in all) provide plenty of entertainment. The two-part story The Battle Begins sets up the story quite nicely, as it shows how the Troopers became the defenders of our reality, their first Skug battle, how Jeb gained the ability to speak, and the beginning of the ongoing plot point of Ryan’s search for his long-lost father. Other episodes on this set have the Troopers rescuing Jeb from Grimlord’s minions (The Dognapping), trying to help Ryan when he’s suffering from amnesia (Lost Memories), dealing with a magician who steals Kaitlin and JB’s virtualizers (A Dirty Trick), investigating some earthquakes that hit Crossworld City (Digging for Fire), and much more. Fans who grew up with the series, as well as people who never saw the show before, are sure to find at least a few great episode on the set that are worth checking out.

A mere three months after Shout Factory released the first 26 episodes of VR Troopers comes this DVD set covering the second half of Season 0ne (or at least most of the second half…more on that in a bit). The saga of Ryan, Kaitlin, and JB continues as they deal with more of Grimlord’s menacing mutants. Many of the episodes on the set are a joy to see, but the standout ones are the four episodes that comprise the Defending Darkheart story arc. This saga, in which Ryan finally learns the fate of his long-lost father, is dramatic and emotional, and is a must see for every VR Trooper fans. Other episodes feature the Troopers being turned into children, encountering the Ghost Biker, and fighting Grimlord’s own VR Trooper. There’s even an episode in which Ryan and his talking dog, Jeb, switch bodies! As you can probably guess, hilarity ensues.

This set also contains a pretty cool five-minute clip that was made to introduce the series. Originally included on various Power Ranger tapes released in the 1990s, the promo includes a few differences from the final show, such as having Professor Hart look more like Albert Einstein and different voices for Grimlord and Jeb. It’s fascinating to watch, and I hope that Shout will include the Cybertron promo (the original concept for what would become VR Trooper, with Jason David Frank A.K.A. the Green Ranger as the main character) in a future set, as well.

Season Two is where the major changes happened, Ryan got a new suit, Grimlord decimated most of his villains. Kaitlin gets a double.

One of the best things about this volume is Ryan finally finds his father and the new look Grimlord is amazing.  most of the major events happen in the second volume.

VR Troopers fans like myself were undoubtedly disappointed when this fourth, and final, DVD set, which was meant to be released in September 2013, was canceled by Shout Factory due to low sales for the other sets. However, these fans may now rejoice as the set has been uncanceled and is available now, but only on Shout’s website as part of their Shout Select series. At any rate, this set is another must have for VR Troopers fans, though those hoping to see a proper conclusion to the series will likely be disappointed.

The second half of Season Two continues the saga of Ryan. Kaitlin, and JB, a.k.a the VR Troopers; and their never ending fight against Grimlord and his army of mutants. In the twenty episodes contained on this disc, our heroes deal with a computer that can duplicate anything (including Grimlord’s mutants), a pet that eats everything until it becomes a deadly monster, a new recurring villain called Knighttime who possesses the power to send the Troopers back in time and have time come to a complete halt, and much more. Some of my favorite episodes on this set includes Santa’s Little Trooper, a Christmas episode with some cute and touching moments, and Get Me to the Lab on Time, in which some love potion causes Kaitlin and the obnoxious Percy to fall in love with each other, leading to much hilarity!

There’s plenty to love about this set, and VR Troopers is as awesome now as it was when it debuted nearly twenty years ago, but one little disappointing aspect about the set is that the series was never given a proper conclusion of any sort. The Troopers would never defeat Grimlord for good, nor would they even find out what his true identity is. As I understand it, the show’s cancellation was on account of Saban having run out of Japanese footage for the show, and instead of either creating more American footage or using more Japanese footage from other shows, they canceled it in favor of Big Bad Beetleborgs. I know I’d give anything to see the show wrap up in a proper manner, but alas, the chances of that happening in this or any other lifetime are likely slim to none.

With that said, this is a solid set and a great way for fans to finish their collection. Having the entire series, or even just a handful of episodes, on DVD was a pipe dream for me not too long ago, but Shout Factory has gone above and beyond to release all 92 episodes on DVD, and for this, I am very happy. Those of you who have been wanting this set, run, don’t walk, to Shout’s website and order it today. Aside from the lack of a proper series conclusion, you most certainly won’t be disappointed!