27 March 2005 | BrianDanaCamp
Classic movie recreations enhance this Power Rangers compilation
"Power Rangers Time Force: Photo Finish" is an hour-long edited compilation of three episodes from the 2001 season in the Power Rangers franchise. The two-part "Movie Madness" puts the Rangers, all out of costume, onto a movie set where the bad guys transport them to different alternate-dimension movie genres. It's a clever concept and is handled with imagination and respect for the different genres recreated. Wes (Jason Faunt) and Trip (Kevin Kleinberg) find themselves in a western (the episode had opened with them watching an old b&w B-western on TV) complete with old western hand Buck Flowers as a crusty bartender. Katie (Deborah Estelle Philips) finds herself in an elegant musical complete with a handsome leading man in top hat and tails. Lucas (Michael Copon) finds himself in a b&w samurai film protecting a beautiful Japanese princess (Eiko Nijo). Quantum Ranger Eric Myers (Daniel Southworth) lets his long hair down to star in a Tarzan movie. Best of all, Jen gets to play in an old-school Hong Kong kung fu movie where she trains under a Shaolin monk (Tak Kubota). In an added twist, the movie being shot when the Power Rangers first arrive is a kung fu movie starring "Frankie Chang" (Kazuhiro Yokoyama) that looks and plays a lot like a scene from Jackie Chan's RUMBLE IN THE BRONX (1994).
When the Rangers are released from their movies they get to run around a series of backlot sets (including the familiar New York street set), and fight the robotic henchmen of villain Cinecon in various empty buildings. There's also a desert car chase modeled on Mel Gibson's Mad Max movie, ROAD WARRIOR (1981), with the added pleasure of ROAD WARRIOR cast member Vernon Wells reprising his role of Wez. (Wells is a cast regular in "Time Force," playing villain-from-the-future Ransik.) The five team members don't turn into Power Rangers until the end of the whole two-parter when Cinecon turns into a giant monster and the Rangers finally get into costume and call up their Zords for the inevitable showdown in a miniature cityscape (the only footage in "Movie Madness" to come from "Time Force"'s Japanese counterpart, "Timeranger").
The third episode on the tape, "Full Exposure," is a straightforward tale of an ambitious young tabloid photographer (Zach Bostrom) who's assigned to get photos of the Rangers out of uniform and reveal their secret identities. Yellow Ranger Katie is hired as his assistant and tries to stop him when she learns his intention. There's a dramatic rescue when the building housing the tabloid ("The Inquisitor") is attacked by a mutant monster. There's a lot of action in this episode, which provides a rare showcase for Katie, the first black female member of the Power Rangers cast since Tanya (Nakia Burrise) on "Power Rangers Turbo" (1997) and the only one since.
This is a shorter compilation than we'd like--another episode would have been nice--but it is an enjoyable one. While "Time Force" remains one of the best PR seasons ever, these episodes are something of a pleasant diversion from the regular sci-fi time travel storyline and the melodramatic entanglement of Red Ranger Wes (Jason Faunt) and his controlling billionaire dad, Mr. Collins (Edward Albert).