I remember back when Warner Brothers was pondering whether they should go to the trouble and expense of releasing Babylon 5 on DVD, and put out a flipper disc of two B5 movies to test the waters. This was, of course, before the current mania of issuing box sets of TV shows hardly even a season old. Now, after five highly successful season sets, a box of movies, and even a box of a failed follow-up series, doubtless the thinking ran to: how can we milk even more money from this cow? Though they haven't gone quite the cynical route as some others, this... well, this is proof the well has indeed run dry, a movie even hardcore fans of B5 dislike.
A pilot film for the Sci-Fi Channel, Rangers begins with David Martel (Dylan Neal) violating a central Ranger edict by withdrawing from a battle when he realizes his ship is too damaged to survive another skirmish. B5 fans who recognize the Rangers of the title as a covert action organization, will be confused by this strange, sudden metamorphosis into a hellbent warrior force. Regardless, Martel, though disgraced, is saved from being cashiered by the charismatic G'Kar (Andreas Katsulas, reprising his B5 role in an welcome extended cameo), and is instead given command of a supposedly haunted jalopy of a battle cruiser, the Lilandra. Manned by a loyal core of his former crew and some mandatory misfits, Martel will of course find himself the sole hope of a delegation of diplomats waylaid by an inimical and powerful enemy.
Where Rangers falls short, is, sadly, implicit in its very nature. In itself, it is a very good cat-and-mouse story, as the crippled Lilandra must make use of strategy and tactics to outmanuever a superior force. Though this story is resolved successfully, it is still a pilot film, so a fair portion of the movie is spent setting up the main thrust of the proposed series - an ancient exiled race, supposedly even worse than the Shadows that propelled Babylon 5. This leaves a viewer with an unfulfilled yearning and questions that can never be satisfied, and thus Legend of the Rangers can only be recommended for completists - although it is easily a cut above most original material produced for Sci-Fi.
The only complaint that I can make about the picture quality is that, too often, the blacks seem not ideally solid but a bit solarized. The surround channels are somewhat under-utilized, but they're there.
None. Zip. Nada. An audio commentary by series creator and writer J. Michael Straczynski would have been nice, but considering he complained in many public forums about the censorsahip of a similar track on the Crusade box set, this absence is hardly surprising.
Dr. Freex, 4/19/2006