Where is Chuck Norris when you need him? The Rangers alluded to in this Babylon 5 film aren’t anything like Walker’s bad boys. These Rangers talk tough but are pretty much dull when it comes to action. The problem with Babylon 5 has always been the convoluted and complicated mythology of the show. I’m a huge science fiction fan who has always wanted to get into this show but just couldn’t wrap my mind around the premise. The Rangers are no exception to this flaw. These guys are charged with basically protecting the…helpless in the Galaxy. Instead they mostly spill out Yoda-like nuggets of wisdom. Die hard fans will probably get most of this, but apparently there weren’t enough of them. This was intended to serve as a pilot for a Babylon 5 spin-off that never got off the ground. Check out this film and you’ll understand why.
It appears the most important element in the Ranger code is to never retreat. Echoes of Galaxy Quest’s “Never give up. Never surrender” abound. It’s almost as comical. Captain Martel (Neal) has broken this sacred oath when he retreated with a crippled ship from an imposing enemy. He’s now out of favor with the council. When Ambassador S’Ka speaks up for him his career is spared. Still… Hell hath no fury like a council scorned. Martel is given command of a cursed ship that isn’t even ready to launch. His duty is to escort the Ambassador to a mysterious meeting about a new threat in the Galaxy. Of course, things go wrong, but the hopelessly outgunned Martel manages to save the day. What an original plot that was. And they all lived happily ever after in cancellation land.
Babylon 5 is presented in its original broadcast 16×9 HD broadcast format. The picture is adequate. Colors are very heavy on the reds and oranges. Earth tones don’t seem to come through much at all. Black levels suffer from compression artifact but are otherwise ok. The picture is soft and could do with a sharper image with better defined contrast. The f/x are far too CGI in appearance. It’s a little hard to explain, but the film lacks any kind of life to it. Digital productions run the risk of appearing too inanimate without care in shooting. Film contains some life and movement even when a picture is still. I found this sterile production quite unnatural.
For such a high action space thriller I found this Dolby Digital 2.0 presentation to be very unimpressive. There isn’t any fullness to the sound. No rumble when a ship launches or explodes. This listless sound only helps to reinforce the distance I felt while watching this film. Dialogue is fine in the center, but there’s no punch to the film anywhere. Even the score lays there flat and hollow throughout the film. A ton of money went into this production, but it feels very cheap.
Nothing to see here either.
Finally we seem to have reached the end of J. Michael Straczynski’s dream. Babylon 5 struggled on for many years trying to find more than the niche audience it had. The project was too ambitious. The Legend Of The Rangers looks very much like what it was: a last ditch effort to hang on. I know I’m likely to catch heat from the B5 fans out there. Before you complain, take a real good look at this DVD and ask yourself if there was any life left in this franchise. With this release it is all available on DVD, and fans can take heart in that. Up until now the series and films were all in print… all except “for the one”.