American Jesus Gives A Whole New Face To Christianity In America

Courtesy:  Shelter Island/glass eye pix/TDC Entertainment

Courtesy: Shelter Island/glass eye pix/TDC Entertainment

American Jesus, the new documentary from Shelter Island and Glass Eye Pix, is an interesting look at Christianity in America.  On the surface, it offers viewers an unbiased look at the varied ways in which Americans today express their beliefs and worship.  On another level, it’s interesting in that it shows that Christians in America have increasingly embraced the understanding that a church is just a building, not necessarily its congregation.  This is perhaps the central discussion point of this documentary.  The documentary’s open-ended question of “what if” is the perfect closure for the documentary.  It is not so much an atheistic question so much as it is a question of faith in general.  Much as with the rest of the topics covered throughout this DVD, it is certain to be a point of both discussion and contention for viewers.  And that’s a good thing, provided viewers are open minded enough to politely discuss said topic.  Said open-minded audiences will find in their discussions of this and every topic in American Jesus, that this is definitely a documentary that is well worth the watch.

The ways in which Christians worship today is vastly different from the ways in which older Christians worship and worshipped.  It used to be that Christians worshipped primarily in church buildings.  They worshipped in a very set, formal setting and manner.  By comparison, Christianity today does not have to necessarily include worshipping in a traditional setting or manner.  Viewers see in American Jesus that Christians today worship in “cowboy Church”, as part of Christian Motorcycle gangs, and even at skate parks and other rather nontraditional settings among others.  They don’t do the traditional stand, sing, sit, pray format, either.  Yet they do study scripture and try to live their lives the best they can.  This expansion of how Christians worship is just one of so many discussion points (and points of contention) for viewers through the documentary.  That’s because there actually is something of a divide even among the Christian faith in regards to “new age” worship.  Another discussion point that makes this such an interesting piece to watch is the very concept of what a “church” actually is.

The traditional view of a church is that it is the physical building and the congregation that fills said building.  To others, a church is just a building.  And as viewers will see in American Jesus, the latter mentality is increasingly taking hold across the country.  The church has increasingly become more about the gathering of people to worship than the building itself.  This ties back directly to the traditional versus “new age” manner in which Christians worship.  There are those holdouts that believe unless one is worshipping in a physical church, then one is not actually attending real worship.  What’s more, there are those that believe that pastors of non-traditional churches aren’t even properly trained and ordained individuals.  Given, this may be true in many cases.  But in other cases, some might in fact hold degrees in divinity and be ordained.  It brings the discussion on what a church is full circle and in turn, makes the discussion all the richer.

Both the discussions on the definition of a church and the ways in which the church body worships today are important discussion points raised over the course of American Jesus’ hour-plus run time.  The documentary closes with a question that is more than certain to become a point of contention for viewers.  The documentary closes by pondering why exactly it is that Christians worship.  It doesn’t do so in any negative, antagonistic manner.  Rather, it merely ponders the question of “what if.” It ponders the question of “what if” everything Christians do today even in having branched out from traditional worship is for not.  That in itself is certain to open a whole new can of worms among viewers.  However, those that can keep a cool, level head and discuss this concept on a mature, adult level (It seems a contradiction in terms at times,yes) will find quite a bit of enlightenment.  Those same mature viewers will find that this topic and those already noted make American Jesus a documentary that is just as important a discussion tool in a church setting as it is in the classroom or elsewhere.  It is a documentary that everyone should see at least once, regardless of whether one’s religious background.  It will be available May 13th and can be pre-ordered via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/American-Jesus-Aram-Garriga/dp/B002DY9K48/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1395667102&sr=1-1&keywords=American+Jesus.

More information on American Jesus and other releases from Shelter Island is available online at http://www.shelterisland.net, http://www.facebook.com/ShelterIslandFilm, and http://twitter.com/ShelterIsl.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Power Rangers Seasons 8 – 12 Box Set A Must Have For Any Diehard PR Fan

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory’s release of Power Rangers Seasons 8 – 12 is an absolute must have for anyone that is a true hardcore fan of the Power Rangers franchise.  This latest box set was released in late 2013, only months before the planned release of the franchise’s next box set, containing Seasons 13 – 17.  Audiences that grew up watching Seasons 8 – 12 will appreciate this box set primarily because of its writing.  Seasons 8 – 12 mark a complete cutting of ties so to speak from the original Power Rangers franchise, which ended with Power Rangers Lost Galaxy.  It was a surprisingly clean cut, too.  The bonus DVD included in this set adds to its value for any true hardcore Power Rangers fan.  That’s because of the abundant amount of extras included just on the one disc alone.  And rounding out the whole thing is the bonus booklet that comes with the set.  All of this together makes Power Rangers Seasons 8 – 12 a set that the most hardcore Power Rangers will want to add to their personal collection.

Power Rangers Seasons 8 – 12 is an important addition to any hardcore Power Rangers fan’s collection first and foremost because of the writing behind each season.  It all starts with Season 8 a.k.a. Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue.  This season and those that follow mark a clean cut from the Power Rangers’ original franchise, which ran technically six seasons.  The franchise’s seventh season saw what would be the first attempt at cutting ties from the original franchise.  But even that season maintained at least some link to the original franchise with the re-introduction of the Astro Megaship, which was used in Season 6 (Power Rangers in Space).  That essentially makes Season 8 the very first time that the franchise’s writers made a complete and clean break from the original series.  It did this quite well, too.  It is interesting to see the Power Rangers go from almost superhero-like status in its previous incarnations to being made into a semi-militaristic force in Season 8.  A similar approach is taken in Power Rangers Time Force.  The writers behind Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue made a clean, solid break from the Power Rangers’ original franchise.  For all of their ability to break from that franchise, audiences will appreciate that they did throw back to Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers with the introduction of the Titanium Ranger in this series.  Just as Tommy was originally brainwashed by Rita, so was Ryan brainwashed by Diabolico.  Fans that grew up with the original Power Rangers franchise will appreciate this throwback, whether it was intentional or not.

The eighth and ninth seasons of Power Rangers exhibited brand new chapters in the long-running franchise’s mythology.  They showed in their writing that the Power Rangers brand could keep running even in a whole new universe separate from the one created in the its first seven seasons.  This trend continued on through Seasons 10 and 11.  The most intriguing of the seasons included in this set would have to be Season 12, though.  Tommy Oliver (Jason David Frank) returns in Season 12 a.k.a. Power Rangers Dino Thunder as the head of a new team of Power Rangers.  What makes this season so enjoyable is that while it lives within the confines of its own universe, it also makes no attempt to ignore Tommy’s past as one of the original Power Rangers.  The very fact that it would be titled Dino Thunder and that the new Power Rangers would have their own dinozords of sorts is a full on throwback.  It brings everything full circle in this set.  It goes without saying that this was not the longest series in the Power Rangers canon.  But it was nice to see the writers and the franchise’s heads make that re-connection with the early days of the Power Rangers once again, just as Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue did in Season 8.

All involved behind Power Rangers Season 8 – 12 are to be commended .  These five seasons prove to be some of the best from the Power Rangers franchise in its post-Zordon era.  Fans will see this for themselves when they order the complete five-season box set from Shout! Factory.  The solid writing in each season and the inclusion of each season are only the starting point in what makes this collection a must have for any hardcore Power Rangers fan.  The set also comes with an extra sixth disc loaded with bonus material that fans will love.

The bonus sixth disc that comes with Power Rangers Seasons 8 – 12 is a bonus in itself.  It is loaded with more than its share of background on each season beginning with an in-depth look at how the actors voiced their parts for the big fight scenes.  Audiences will laugh along with the cast members as they recall being in the recording booth, recording their lines and even fight sounds as they see the action on screen.  The “Ranger Tales” segment is just as in-depth.  It offers insight on each season from different members of each season’s cast.  What’s more, this segment proceeds chronologically from Season 8 – 12.  Viewers will also enjoy watching “A Web of Fans.”  This bonus feature takes a look at the impact of the show on its fans and vice versa.  It showed how close-knit the Power Rangers fanbase is to this day and how it has helped to keep the franchise alive such a long time.  There are even more bonuses including one that discusses the introduction of the Titanium Ranger and a semi-promo from Tommy himself pushing Power Rangers Dino Thunder and even a promo by two members of the Dino Thunder cast for Power Rangers S.P.D. which is part of the next Power Rangers box set.  The bonuses don’t end here.  There is still at least one more aspect of this set that fans will appreciate being included.  That bonus is the booklet that comes with the box set.

Power Rangers Seasons 8 – 12 includes as a companion to the bonus sixth disc, a bonus booklet that includes character bios for each season as well as a complete episode guide for each season as well.  Along with the character bios are the actual names of each cast member from each season.  This includes both the Rangers and the villains.  There are even stills of various scenes taken from different episodes of each season to enhance the booklet even more.  From the stills to the episode list and character guide, those responsible for assembling this booklet put in a lot of work to make it the perfect addition to the overall set.  Together with the bonus sixth disc, the two bonus additions collectively make for one wonderful bonus to a set that simply put is a must have for any true hardcore Power Rangers fan.  Power Rangers Seasons 8 – 12 is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/power-rangers-seasons-8-12.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory Announces Release Date For Power Rangers Zeo: Volume 2

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban Brands

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban Brands

The Power Rangers are back once again.  Power Rangers Zeo: Volume 2 will be available in stores and online Tuesday, February 11th on DVD.  The second volume from the Power Rangers’ Zeo incarnation sees Tommy, Katherine, and the rest step up their Zeo powers once again in order to defeat King Mondo and his Machine Empire minions.  Fans can also expect to see some familiar faces return on both sides of the battle in this volume of adventures.

Along with more high-energy battles and incredible new zords, Power Rangers Zeo: Volume 2 also continues Saban’s long-running tradition of tying important life lessons into each episode.  Volume 2 teaches lessons about teamwork, believing in one’s self, friendship and much more throughout its twenty-five total episodes.  There are also plenty more laughs courtesy of Bulk and Skull (Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy).

Power Rangers Zeo: Volume 2 will be available in a three-disc set for SRP of $19.93. It can be pre-ordered now via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/power-rangers-zeo-volume-two.  More information on this and other upcoming releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory, Saban Annouce Release Date For Latest Power Rangers Mega-Set

Courtesy: Saban Brands/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Saban Brands/Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory and Saban Brands have announced that they will release another mega-set from Saban’s hugely popular Power Rangers franchise this Spring.  The companies have announced that they will release Power Rangers Seasons 13 – 17 on Tuesday, April 1st, 2014.  The five-season set includes the complete runs of: Power Rangers S.P.D., Power Rangers Mystic Force, Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, Power Rangers Jungle Fury, and Power Rangers RPM.  The set is comprised of one hundred sixty-six episodes on twenty-one DVDs.

Along with the episodes, Power Rangers Seasons 13 – 17 will also include a number of bonuses.  Among them are: “Rangers on Set!,” “Ranger Tales”, “Collect ‘Em All”, “The S.P.D. Rangers Want You”, “Special Messages From The Mystic Force Rangers”, “Mystic Force: Forces of Nature”, “Operation Overdrive Files” and loads more.  Audiences get to hear from cast members of the featured seasons in “Rangers on Set!”  The featured cast members share their personal thoughts on the sets used for their respective series.  The cast members also get to share their own thoughts on what it means to be part of the Power Rangers franchise in “Ranger Tales.”  Fans get their time in the spotlight, too in the included bonus features.  “Collect ‘Em All” features various fans of the franchise and their favorite Power Rangers toys and collectibles.

More information on the Power Rangers Seasons 13 – 17 mega set will be released in the months to come.  Fans can keep up with all of the latest updates on this and other Power Rangers releases online at http://www.facebook.com/powerrangers, http://www.powerrangers.com, http://twitter.com/powerrangernews, http://www.shoutfactory.com, and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Power Rangers Seasons 13 – 17 can be pre-ordered now online via the Shout! Factory online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/product/power-rangers-seasons-13-17.

Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers An Underappreciated Addition To The Power Rangers Universe

Courtesy:  Saban Brands/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Saban Brands/Shout! Factory

Saban Brands and Shout! Factory released early this year, a massive box set containing all seven seasons of Saban’s original Power Rangers series.  The multi-disc set took viewers from the birth of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers all the way through the Rangers’ journey to the Lost Galaxy.  That mega-box set is the ultimate experience for any fan of the Power Rangers’ original series.  For some though, the cost of the set might have been a bit much.  That’s okay.  For those fans, Saban and Shout! Factory have also released each season in its own standalone box set.  The two companies have released the original series all the way up through the first volume of Power Rangers Zeo.  Even the ten-episode “mini-series”, Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers has been released to the masses.  This connector series is one of the least remembered among the franchise’s legions of fans.  Why this is the case is anybody’s guess.  But the reality of the short-lived series is that it is just as important a part of the franchise’s early days as its previous seasons.  It is just as important as the previous seasons and the one that follows first and foremost because it is a solid bridge between the two seasons.  It is also an important addition to the overall franchise because it was a branching out from the original Power Rangers franchise.  All things considered, whether taken as its own attempted spinoff or a bridge between seasons, it showed that the show’s writing was just as strong as ever.  And now audiences that grew up with this “series” can re-live it any time they want thanks to Saban and Shout! Factory having released it to DVD by itself.

Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers is one of the more underrated installments of Saban’s hugely popular franchise.  The reasons for this are varied.  But as deeper look at the “series” shows that it is just as important an addition to the franchise as any of the show’s other seasons.  The first reason for the “series’” success is it is a solid bridge between the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers series and the franchise’s next evolution.  Those that grew up with the original series will recall that this “series” was not the first time that the Rangers had lost their powers.  That means that the show’s writers had to figure out a way to keep the franchise fresh while still maintaining its original ongoing story.  It can be said that they did just that and that they did it well.  By bringing in a whole new team of Power Rangers from another world, the show’s writers achieved two goals.  The first of those goals being that it presented a new “what if” scenario to the show.  It put the responsibility of saving the planet on a team of Rangers not of this Earth.  The second goal achieved through this story arc was that it showed the potential of a whole new Power Rangers spinoff, which is what the real reason was for this “season.”

The introduction of the Aquitian Rangers was a nice additional story arc for the Power Rangers franchise.  The show’s writers achieved their goal of keeping the franchise fresh with the “series” while maintaining the franchise’s integrity.  It also proved the potential of a new spinoff in the Power Rangers universe.  That was the real goal of this installment.  And it’s another reason that it is such an important addition to the property.  While the Rangers of Aquitar obviously didn’t seem to grab audiences enough to mandate a spinoff, the writers are to be commended for even having taken the risk with them.  As viewers have seen over the course of some twenty years, a massive number of spinoffs have been crafted from the original series.  Taking that into consideration, it can be argued that Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers was a groundbreaker.  That’s because next to one other very small early story arc, it is one of the very first spinoffs of the Power Rangers franchise.  That makes this an even more important piece of Power Rangers history.

Whether one sees Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers as a spinoff, a bridge between seasons in the ongoing evolution of the Power Rangers, or a little bit of both, it’s clear that despite its underrated and undervalued status, this addition to the Power Rangers universe was just as important as any other installment.  It showed that the show’s writing was just as solid as it was in the very first season of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  It also was a groundbreaker for the franchise, and proved that the franchise had the ability to branch out, as it later would and has since.  All things considered it proves to be that much more valuable an addition to the library of any Power Rangers fan and fanatic.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Power Rangers Is At Its Peak In Season Three

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The third season of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers sees this classic children’s series at its peak.  The show reached its apex in its third season primarily because of its writing.  It is also just as impressive as Shout! Factory has presented these original episodes exactly as they aired on Fox Kids’ weekday afternoon programming block in the 1990s.  This includes the short “squeezeback” segments (say that three times fast) that accompanied each episode’s credits.  This season is the peak for the original Power Rangers series as it presents the season in its entirety instead of being cut up into half seasons as was done with the show’s first two seasons.  These three aspects together make Season Three of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers one that any original fan of this show a must have.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season Three presents the Power Rangers franchise at the top of its game first and foremost because of the show’s writing.  Whereas the show’s first two seasons only saw a small handful of extended story arcs, this season was made up almost entirely of broad multi-part story arcs, beginning with a voyage to the planet Edenoi in the three-part episode, “A Friend in Need.”  This was an important way to open Season Three as it served as a solid filler that helped keep the franchise “fresh” and thus keep viewers.  Viewers had become rather familiar with Rita and Lord Zedd over the course of the show’s first two seasons.  The show’s writers obviously knew that the pair couldn’t do but so much against the Rangers by themselves before audiences got tired of them.  So, what better way to keep the franchise alive than trying out a new villain?  The new villain—Count Dregon—only lasted a short time before the show’s writers transitioned in the appearance of more new foes for the Rangers.  Those foes were Rita Repulsa’s brother and father, Rito and Master Vile.

On a side note, many fans of the Power Rangers franchise might recognize the name of the Masked Rider within this season’s opening story arc.  That’s because this story arc would eventually lead to a short-lived spinoff that lasted less than a year from September 1995 to August 1996.  In later years, the show on which this was based, Kamen Rider Black RX would be introduced to American audiences.  Though it too, would only last a short time.

The new villains introduced into the show’s canon in Season Three were just part of what helped keep the show fresh.  Three of the original Rangers left the show in its second season.  This season, another Ranger passes on her powers.  This transfer makes up its own story arc.  The story arc in question was the three-part episode, “A Different Shade of Pink.”  The episode’s story happens in a fashion that harkens back to the Green Ranger sage from the show’s first season.  It crosses that with the simple passing of the torch, and once more helps to move the show forward and keep it fresh for yet another season.  Along with a new member of the team, there is even a new set of Zords for the Rangers in their fight against Rita and company.  It all leads up to the season finale, “Rangers in Reverse.”  “Rangers in Reverse” leads into its own extended story arc that would become a mini-season of its own in Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers.

The extended story arcs that largely made up Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season Three did a lot to help keep the Power Rangers franchise fresh for its audiences.  From another change in the team’s lineup to new foes, powers, Zords, and even armor, a lot changed this season.  And the show’s writers did a commendable job of keeping it all straight and believable.  Looking at this season from a wider vantage point, Shout! Factory is to be commended for presenting Season Three exactly as it was originally aired.  That includes the squeezeback segments included with the show’s end credits.  These segments feature loads of bloopers from each episode’s gag reel.  It’s a minor piece of the puzzle.  But it adds its own element of enjoyment to the overall presentation of the show.  And any purist Power Ranger fan will appreciate the Shout! Factory made certain that this was included for fans.

The writing of the episodes in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season Three made this season the best yet for the franchise.  That Shout! Factory would make sure that each episode was presented exactly as it was in its original broadcast makes this new set all the more enjoyable for the show’s original fans.  There is still one more factor to which audiences can credit this latest set’s success.  That factor is the set’s packaging.  The first two seasons of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers were split up into two halves each.  This time out, Shout! Factory opted to reward loyal Power Rangers fans with a complete season in one box.  And as become the standard from Shout! Factory, the packaging is praise worthy.  All three discs are placed in their own spot inside the slim case.  Shout! Factory has highly impressed again here as this standard is safe for the discs, and ergonomic.  This is the final touch on what is already another impressive release that will take the show’s original fans back on a great trip down memory lane.  And for the children of the show’s original fan, it will serve as one more lesson in what once made children’s commercial programming so great. 

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season Three is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/217378.  After ordering Season Three, audiences can also go to the official Shout! Factory website and Facebook page at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial to stay up with the latest releases from Shout! Factory. 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

SUperhuman Samurai Syerb-Squad Season 1.5 A Fun, Campy Trip Down Memory Lane

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad is perhaps one of the campiest of the shows from the 90s wave of shows adapted from Japan’s super-powered kids’ shows.  The show only lasted one season from September 12, 1994 – April 11, 1995; right at the internet’s infancy.  That is evident through the fight sequences that take place inside the digital world.  The sets are just as campy as the writing and acting.  But for anyone that grew up during the early 90’s, that campy vibe was something great in that era.  So now that Mill Creek Entertainment has re-issued the first half of the show’s only season, fans of this classic kids’ action series can re-live their childhood while introducing their own kids to part of their own childhood at the same time.

While this competitor to Saban’s hugely popular Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers only lasted a single season, it had some similarities to the aforementioned show, it can at least be said of this cross between Ultraman and MMPR that had some originality.  For starters, Sam and his friends were more believable and relatable to younger viewers at the time.  That’s because they looked and acted more like average teens, unlike the cast of MMPR. Also, rather than facing off against interstellar baddies, Sam (played by a then very young Matthew Lawrence) and his friends have to go into the digital world to face off against Kilokahn and the viruses created by his human helper, Malcolm Frank.  Many of the battles fought by Sam and his friends are the result of Malcolm’s hatred for Sam.  Malcolm’s intentions are largely as a competitor for the affections of a young lady.  Kilokahn’s intentions are the standard world domination schemes.  So both having evil intentions, it only made sense for the pair to team up and do so much damage to the digital world, and in turn, the real world.

The acting of the show’s cast and the show’s storylines are campy to say the least.  But they’re not as over the top as those in certain other Japanese imports, either.  The same can be said of the show’s sets and special effects, too.  The show’s sets and special effects are just as campy as the acting and writing.  But just as the campy acting and writing make this a guilty pleasure for any viewer that grew up with this show, so are the sets and special effects.  Together with the acting and writing, and even the relatable teen challenges tied into each episode, this re-issue of Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad Season 1 Volume 1 a great addition to the library of any child of the 90s.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facbeook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory Offers More 90′s Nostalgia With VR Troopers Season 2 Vol. 1

Courtesy:  Saban/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Saban/Shout! Factory

Saban and Shout! Factory release the first half of VR Troopers Season Two next Tuesday, May 14th.  The little brother to the more popular Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, this show never enjoyed the success of its fellow fantasy action/adventure show.  It only lasted two seasons.  But even in those two short seasons, it still managed to offer plenty of campy fun and action, just like MMPR.  While VR Troopers only lasted two seasons, it’s pretty obvious that even with such a short lived, show, Shout! Factory wanted to give proper respect to the show and its fans.  Shout! Factory and all involved are to be highly commended for such a level of respect.  The show’s shooting style is much like that of MMPR, too, even in the show’s second season.  Now thanks to Shout! Factory and Saban, audiences can enjoy the latest set of episodes from this short-lived series beginning next week. 

VR Troopers Season Two, Volume One offers audiences twenty more episodes including the five part event, ‘Quest for Power’ and the two part evil twin story arc, ‘Kaitlin Through The Looking Glass.’  And just as in MMPR, each episode offers not only plenty of action and comedy, but also valuable lessons.  A prime example would be the season opener, ‘Mutant Mutiny.’  The lesson taught through this lesson is of loyalty.  A mutiny attempting to overthrow the evil mutant leader Grimlord takes place in this episode.  Meanwhile, Ryan’s friends show their loyalty to the team when Ryan is injured.  Their loyalty to the Troopers makes his loyalty even stronger, and together, the trio overcomes the attempted Mutiny.  It’s just one of many lessons taught.  Speaking of which, another part of what makes this show so interesting for first timers is that each episode’s lesson is explained by Ryan at the end of each episode.  Ryan narrates, as he is seen practicing.  It helps to illustrate the moment of clarity of mind.  The show’s writers did a good job in setting each episode in this fashion. 

The lessons taught through the latest collection of episodes from VR Troopers continue what started in the show’s first season.  The action sequences, gadgets, and high tech vehicles will take anyone pining for better times back in time to when they were children.  And being adults themselves now, those same audiences that watched this show as kids can now pass it on to their own children, maintaining the show’s own legacy.  Of course of all this is just positive to this new set of episodes.  Audiences will also appreciate the triple-disc set’s packaging.  Shout! Factory made itself a leader among multimedia companies thanks to maintaining its “tradition” of slim packaging for multi-disc sets.  VR Troopers Season Two Volume One is no exception.  All three discs in this set each have their own spot inside the case, which is small enough to hold a single disc.  The first two discs sit back to back without touching one another thanks to dual disc insert that gives each one it’s very own spot.  As with all of Shout! Factory’s previous multi-disc releases, this protects the discs, thus allowing them to be enjoyed over and over again; much longer than discs included in less conventional methods.  So yet again, everyone at Shout! Factory is to be commended for maintaining this packaging format.  That combined with simply bringing this retro classic back to life for the generation that grew up with it makes Shout! Factory that much more worthy of respect.  While VR Troopers only lasted two seasons, it’s pretty obvious that even with such a short lived, show, Shout! Factory wanted to give proper respect to the show and its fans.  And it’s just as obvious that when the final installment of this rollicking retro show that same level of professionalism and respect will be maintained for fans of all ages. 

VR Troopers Season Two Volume One will be available in stores and online beginning Tuesday, May 14th.  It can be ordered online at the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/216942.

To keep up with all the latest sports reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Power Rangers Samurai DVD A Good Bridge Between Series

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

The most recent installment in Saban’s long-running Power Rangers franchise—Power Rangers Samurai—recently wrapped up its season with the rangers taking down Xandred once and for all.  Meanwhile Skull and his son Spike are re-united, leaving Bulk behind and the rangers all going their own way.  With the Samurai Rangers’ duties done, the question was raised would there be another series to carry on the Power Rangers franchise.  The answer:  Yes.  But before that, fans of the Samurai Rangers were given one last adventure from the previous team of Rangers.  That adventure is the new straight to DVD feature, Clash of the Red Rangers: The Movie.

Clash of the Red Rangers: The Movie is for all intents and purposes a space filler between one Power Rangers series and the next.  This forty-five minute story not only offers audiences one more adventure from the Samurai rangers, but even includes a former Ranger from the RPM universe.  Given, on the surface, the RPM Ranger’s story seems out of place considering the timing of this new release and the end of Power Rangers RPM.   But one must also take into consideration that the two series existed within their own universe, much like the various incarnations of different comic books (E.g. Batman, Batman & Robin, Wolverine, The Uncanny X-Men, etc.)  So taking this into account, it makes suspension of disbelief more possible.  In turn, it makes this essentially extended TV episode more bearable.

Clash of the Red Rangers: The Movie is less a movie and more an extended TV episode.  But even if one considers it a movie, unlike other movies taken from TV series, it actually hasn’t lost any of the action for which it was known during its run on TV.  All the explosions and fight scenes are there.  And since it hadn’t happened in some time, it was interesting to see Saban do another crossover episode.  The last time that Saban had done such was in the Power Rangers Dino series.  That series saw the return of Tommy (Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers) as the head of his own team of Rangers.  The Rangers’ zords in this series were even throwbacks to the very first of the Power Rangers series.  So while it wasn’t directly a crossover, it is the closest that the franchise had come to a crossover before this DVD release.

This new DVD release from Saban is interesting because it presents the first crossover storyline from the Power Rangers franchise in some time.  That crossover story arc also makes this an interesting release in that for the first time in the Power Rangers franchise, it openly answers the question of how there could be so many different teams of Rangers around the world.  This franchise has evolved in so many directions since the days of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  It’s this kind of evolution that can cause comic book fans to become confused and even frustrated.  So the very acknowledgement that there are different dimensions to the Power Rangers universe helps to justify each franchise, if only a little bit at best.  In the simplest of terms, what this has done is it has hopefully put the kibosh on that eternal question raised by so many fan boys.  And in turn, it makes the latest series in the franchise, Megaforce, that much more appreciated, especially being that it directly throws back to the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  Keeping all of that in mind, Clash of the Red Rangers: The Movie may not be the best of the Power Rangers features ever written.  But it does explain some previously unexplained issues and in turn makes previous Power Rangers series worth another look.  For that, it in itself is worth at least one watch.

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The Rangers Return With More Lessons, Adventures In New Set

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

The Power Rangers are back once again.  Thanks to Lionsgate and Saban, fans of the latest team of Rangers get to experience four more action packed adventures from Power Rangers Samurai.  In the latest set of adventures, the Rangers face one of their most difficult challenges yet.  The whole thing starts when Kevin is put under a mind control spell by a new Nighlok monster.  It just so happens that the monster also has control of the Rangers’ Tigerzord.  Making things worse is that there’s already some tension among the team because of Master Ji’s evaluation of Kevin and Jayden.  While the Rangers are able to overcome this hurdle, things don’t get any easier as Mike has to face his own doubts after not being given the Beetle disc.  This causes problems when the team faces off against a new Nighlok monster.  It in turn leads to a conflict between Mike and the rest of the Rangers. But after a heart to heart between Mike and Master Ji, things turn around for Mike.  Having overcome so much adversity, the Rangers face one final challenge in a two-part episode that will test Jayden like never before.

It goes without saying that the Rangers come out on top in each of the four episodes in this new single-disc collection.  And just as with previous incarnations of the famed Power Rangers franchise, these new episodes teach the lessons of believing in oneself and of the value of teamwork.  These are lessons of which today’s younger viewers to be reminded. 

The continued lessons alone make the episodes in this new release valuable in their own right.  But anyone who has grown up with the Power Rangers franchise will see a number of similarities between this new team of Rangers and those having gone before.  Many of the zords are very similar in style to previous zords.  And even the Rangers’ own weapons are similar to those of previous teams.  They have simply been given a little bit of a twist to update them.  This will create in older audiences a sense of nostalgia.  And even for those who are new to the Power Rangers universe, these episodes make for a good starting point.  Older audiences can teach the younger audiences about the similarities to the older Rangers’ series, and in turn show where the show has come from.  Power Rangers Samurai: A Team Divided is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via the Lionsgate store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=27840&TitleParentId=8041.

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