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After being punished for retreat from combat, Ranger David Martel is given command of the Liandra, a haunted 20-year old Minbari fighting ship. He's escorting ambassadors to a secret archaeological site, the oldest city on record and a clue to a dangerous ancient race. Written by
I admit it. I am a Babylon 5 junkie. No, better stated... Babylon 5, the series, is a spiritual journey for me, one which largely outlines my own belief structure quite succinctly. This does not make me a Babylon 5 fan(as in fanatic) however. I do not attend conventions. I do not collect memorabilia. I do not keep a cherish autographed picture of Bruce Boxleitner in my closet. No, the show is enough for me.
So now I have to ask myself. What was J. Michael Straczinski thinking when he wrote Babylon 5: Legend of the Rangers? I eagerly anticipated this premiere, largely because I felt if left to his own devices (which was clearly not the case on Crusade), he might create something that measured up to the genius of the series. Not so. In fact, the premiere of LotR (not to be confused with LotR of the big screen!) was a tragedy. Hackneyed, confused, and sometimes laughably bad, this will not earn him more fans.
There are a few bright spots. An early scene between Martel and Dulann hints of Straczinski's ability to humanize his relationships. And Andreas Katsulas is always a pleasure to watch; his imposing presence as G'Kar always made Babylon 5 a joy and his presence in this film is much the same.
Tragically, we see too little of both of these things in LotR. Instead we are treated to some truly bad acting in the form of Myriam Sirois as Ranger Cantrell. This character is as superfluous as she is poorly conceived. As weapons officer, she has little more to do than to make laughably ludicrous punching and kicking motions in the virtually reality weapons chamber. This outlines a big problem in and of itself; the need to include gratuitous special effects, even if there is no logical reason for their existence. The virtually reality weapons are the perfect example of this. They make no sense, they look absolutely ridiculous, and they appear *far* too often.
Contrast this to the original series, whose special effects were notoriously "fake" looking, quite obviously conceived on a limited CGI budget. But that was part of the charm of the show; our attention could be drawn temporarily to the eye candy of the effects while our concentration remained squarely on the relationships.
If the show actually goes to series after this premiere, I will give it a shot. After all, if I had based my opinion of Babylon 5 solely on the basis of the premiere (Babylon 5: The Gathering), I'm not sure I would have watched the show either. But Mr. Straczinski, really. I know you can do better than this.
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