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Babylon 5 - The Legend Of The Rangers: To Live And Die In Starlight (2002)
Director: Michael Vejar
review by Cristopher Hennessey-DeRose
When Babylon 5 came to its end during its 5th year, it left behind a more-than-imposing shadow. Not only does it stand as one of the best-written and plotted SF programmes to date, but it casts the same shadow over its spin-offs and made-for-TV-movies. Crusade suffered from too many problems (many before the series even aired) to list here. The TV movies were hit-or-miss. In The Beginning and Thirdspace hit dead-on, while others, like River Of Souls missed. Sadly, The Legend Of The Rangers is another miss.
In 2264, Rangers from different planets band together to act as escort for a group of diplomats on their way to a little-known planet for a classified political mission. Their main vessel is destroyed, but the Rangers are able to rescue them and bring them aboard the escort ship. This is where the movie begins to derail. Among the diplomats we see many of the same alien races we saw in Babylon 5. But there's one that's very different to the point of looking patently ridiculous. Now we know someone is going to do something terribly wrong, and chances are that pasty-looking guy with the coaxial cables sticking out of his face will probably be responsible for it. Dramatic but predictable events follow.
I hate to be as hit-and-run about this as I'm being, so I'll try for hit-and-stand around-for-awhile. The sets look, in a word, cheap. So do the aliens. On Babylon 5, you sometimes had to just accept such shortcomings because of the obviously limited budget, and make allowances for the usually bang-up job the crew did. Here, it just looks like everyone had a hangover and just didn't give a damn. Joe Straczynski can write damn well, as he showed on B5 - dialogue in particular. But in this latest offering, actors better suited for soap operas are hamstrung with lines like "We live for the one, we die for the one. But we don't die stupidly."
Thank god for Andreas Katsulas, reprising his role as G'Kar. Trouble is, he doesn't nearly get enough screen time, and seems well out of place among other performers who seem utterly at sea with the material. Things that make this more like a forgettable Star Trek episode (take your pick from which generation) are the something really dramatic is happening here attitude in everything from the acting to the editing and music. The aforementioned alien from the planet Coaxial is introduced in what is supposed to be a subtle jumble of bodies, but he just looks so out of place that it just doesn't work. The ship is the proverbial bucket of bolts no one else wants (it doesn't help that it's haunted), and the head of fire control has a short fuse. This last kinda bugged me; the mistress of laser fire floats in a simulation of space and fires using punches and kicks. An interesting weapons system, to be sure, but there was the point where she was spinning and kicking and yelling in a last-ditch dramatic attempt to escape and it was so melodramatic that it played more for laughs than the high drama.
In short, Straczynski has done better, can do better, and for God's sake, should do better than this.
Legend Of The Rangers
- main cast
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