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Power Rangers Mystic Force: Volume 1 - Broken Spell DVD Review

Buy Power Rangers Mystic Force: Volume 1 from Amazon.com Power Rangers Mystic Force: Volume 1 - Broken Spell
Show Details
Executive Producers: Bruce Kalish, Koichi Sakamoto
Power Rangers Creator: Saburo Yatsude / Writers: Bruce Kalish, Jackie Marchand
Directors: John Laing

Cast: Firass Dirani (Nick/Red Mystic Ranger), Angie Diaz (Vida/Pink Mystic Ranger), Richard Brancatisano (Xander/Green Mystic Ranger), Melanie Vallejo (Madison/Blue Mystic Ranger), Nic Sampson (Chip/Yellow Mystic Ranger), Peta Rutter (Udanna), Antonia Prebble (Clare), Barnie Duncan (Toby), Kelson Henderson (Phineas)

DVD Details
Running Time: 67 Minutes (3 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen, Dolby Stereo Surround (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
Episodes Originally Aired February 20 - 27, 2006
DVD Release Date: June 6, 2006
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99; Red Keepcase

Review by Albert Gutierrez

As the fourteenth entry in the long-running franchise, "Power Rangers Mystic Force" continues to deliver the tried-and-true formula: five teenagers are summoned by a greater power to protect people from the evils of one-track-minded bad guys. This time, we find ourselves in the quaint little town of Briarwood,
where the humdrum lives of its unsuspecting residents are interrupted when an earthquake occurs. It's a minor one, but it is strong enough to develop a "crack" in the gates that sealed the dark/magic dimension from the human dimension, thus allowing some bad guys to come through every once in awhile and cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.

Meanwhile, back in Briarwood, a group of teens is mugging for the camera (literally, as one of them is holding a camera). They seem pretty playful and get along well, which is a pity, since it all still comes off as acting. An old man appears, courtesy of a powerful sorceress named Udanna, and convinces the group of teens to help find "his brother" in the “Forbidden Forest”, where people sometimes go in, but no one ever comes out (ooh, I'm shaking...). There, they meet Udanna and her somewhat ditsy assistant, Clare, who in an attempt to stop the group from leaving, accidentally turns into a sheep.

The series relies on adjusting the Power Rangers formula for magic, though some of the technical gizmos still maintain a recurring presence. Initially given magic wands to help them morph, the teens ask for something else, so Udanna transforms the wands into cell phones. But that's pretty much the only true technological aspect of the "Mystic Force" merchandise...I mean, gizmos. In a Power Rangers first, this group uses magic to actually become their zords, as opposed to the many previous series' before them, in which rangers would pilot/control large bulky robots.

The "Power Rangers Mystic Force" title logo appears at the start of each episode. Ordinary teenagers in a mysterious forest can only the Power Rangers are about to get magical.

The magical aspect of "Mystic Force" is rather basic, with the magic wands-cum-cell phones being the group's primary source of wizardry, though it has been shown that in the Forbidden Forest (which is part of the magic dimension), one only needs to believe in magic in order to use it. But beyond the cell phones, there are also special codes (read: spells), that the rangers learn which give them more abilities. In "Code Breakers", for example, they get the codes for their zords, along with a new code for one of the formations (Dragon).

While this series has a much more interesting premise than some of the blander ideas (cough Dino Thunder and SPD cough), the acting is still subpar. The camaraderie between the five central youths, usually something that makes them believable as friends, is so forced throughout each episode that a three-year-old would know they're acting. Individually, most of the actors are no better. I often found myself grinding my teeth anytime Firass Dirani (Nick) would open his mouth. As one of those brooding rebel types, he comes off as reading from a cue card a few feet away. As Vida and Chip, Angie Diaz and Nic Sampson do show some potential. Their characters are very colorful, very upbeat and very clichéd; Vida's a sort of wild punk girl who hates pink, while Chip is the group's token weirdo. The two actors pull off their roles well enough that you actually can enjoy their presence. However, their personas will come off as either the most interesting ones to watch or the most annoying, depending on the viewer. This is especially true for the third episode, "Code Breakers", which focuses on them.

It was really hard for me to dislike the series. I personally haven’t watched "Power Rangers" regularly since 1998's "In Space" (which in this reviewer’s opinion, was like, the best series ever!), and when the opportunity came to review this, I approached with both hesitation and a little excitement. From the tiny bit offered on this disc (a paltry three episodes) I can't fairly assess the series as a whole. But I can say I don't plan on picking up forthcoming volumes unless the studio increases the amount of content per disc or delivers a price drop.

A good rule to have is "Listen to the lady with the big spells book." The brooding Nick makes a special new friend.

Despite previous series being given a five-episode-per-disc treatment, "Mystic Force" receives a mere three, barely introducing itself to the viewer.
Each episode runs about 22 minutes (in a change, all opening and closing credits are retained), and the first two aired together in a one-hour block. “Broken Spell” (Parts 1 & 2) starts with a prologue of sorts, that gives us the “centuries ago, good forces lock up the evil forces forever” explanation. From this we move to present day, in Briarwood, where we see in a mere 40 minutes how our rangers became rangers, though of course, it takes some additional convincing for the brooding Nick.

"Code Breakers" is a very rushed episode. Serving as an introduction-followup (you know, with a "Hey, we forgot to tell you about these powers and gizmos!" feel to it), this is the first episode in which we see the zords, and learn about the spell codes they need to acquire by doing heroic deeds. Chip and Vida try to do their own heroic deeds, but learn that it's not heroic if they're serving themselves.

"Mystic Force" isn't a bad show, really -- it's just that fourteen years of Power Rangers has really exhausted the possibilities. How many times must we see that in order to defeat an opponent, you must beat them to a pulp and/or kill them? How many times will there be five teenagers who conveniently are friends be "chosen" to be saviors of a sometimes unsuspecting town? How many times will they continue to put undeserved emphasis on the Red Ranger? I wish I could answer these questions, but for now, all I can do is sigh and shake my head at what a once prominent series has turned into.

In this very convincing shot, the rangers-to-be watch a robotic centaur fight a foe. Chip (Nic Sampson) and Vida (Angie Diaz) are either the most interesting or annoying characters on the show, depending on who you ask.


Video is presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen, as it was originally broadcasted. I have no reason to believe this series was filmed in widescreen, so a fullscreen transfer is acceptable. Colors are bright and vibrant, though the entire picture often comes off as rather sharp at times.

Audio is presented in 2.0 Dolby Surround. It sounds pretty much the same any way you listen to it (be it on a portable player, or in a home theatre system), with the dialogue and background music/effects mixed pretty evenly between the speakers.

The rangers of "Power Rangers S.P.D." and "Power Rangers DinoThunder" collide in the bonus episode "History", which has nothing to do with "Mystic Force" and thus feels a little out of place. Even the menus are lesser than those found on previous Power Rangers DVDs.


As far as bonus features go, this disc is incredibly lacking. Not even a game is included. What we do get, however, is a completely unrelated “bonus episode”, from "Power Rangers S.P.D.".
“History” is a crossover between "S.P.D." and "DinoThunder", and is pretty unremarkable and unnecessary, as an episode in the "S.P.D." series and as a bonus on this disc. It features the Dino Rangers being transported to 2020, the time "S.P.D." takes place, then return with no memory of ever being there. A battle or two is thrown in, along with some villains brooding as usual. I found it easy to follow as a standalone episode, but ultimately forgettable.

The disc opens with sneak peeks for the DVD releases of Leroy & Stitch, "Power Rangers SPD" Volumes 1-5, Spymate, "Dinosaurs" Seasons 1 and 2. When you access the Sneak Peeks page on the menu, you’ll find additional previews for The Shaggy Dog (2006), Brother Bear 2, and The Fox and the Hound: 25th Anniversary Edition

Fitting with this disc’s theme of being very light and empty, a static 16x9 main menu offers your basic options of “Play All”, “Bonus Episode”, “Episode Selection”, “Sneak Peeks”, and “Set Up”. The series theme song plays in the background, though it ends somewhat abruptly and continues to repeat. For a theme song, it's very upbeat, like something you'd hear in a club. I was half expecting the singer to start saying, "Shake it, shake it, shake it like a polaroid picture", but alas, no. All I got was "Here come the Power Rangers, Mystic Force Yo!"

The disc comes in a standard red amaray case, with a two-sided insert. One side features the paltry episode selection, while the other side advertises "Mystic Force" on Jetix along with merchandise from the "Mystic Force" toy line.


I have to say, for a Power Rangers series, "Mystic Force" certainly isn't the worst, but it's not the best either. A tired formula is given a weak shot in the arm that makes this incarnation only slightly different from its predecessors, but ultimately, is a waste of viewing time for anyone who's expecting a show that will truly entertain for a half an hour. The life lessons are so thinly veiled (especially with Udanna spouting out clichés right and left), that one can summarize an episode within the first five minutes, then spend the next 15 or so making catty comments at the television. For this DVD, though, I'd recommend spending the $20 elsewhere, unless you really really really are a fan of this series.

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Reviewed June 15, 2006.