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Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue (2000)

Video  -  Fantasy  -  18 April 2000 (USA)
7.2
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The origin of how the Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue team and their respective zords, weapons, allies and enemies is told in this full length feature.

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Title: Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue (Video 2000)

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Kelsey Winslow (as Sasha Williams)
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Neil Kaplan ...
Diabolico (voice)
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Loki (voice)
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The origin of how the Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue team and their respective zords, weapons, allies and enemies is told in this full length feature.

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Fantasy

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18 April 2000 (USA)  »

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This movie was originally aired as the first three episodes of the first season of "Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue" (2000)[TV Series]. See more »

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Video compilation of first three episodes from PRLR
10 April 2011 | by (Bronx, NY) – See all my reviews

This entry is for the first home video release of "Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue," the 2000 entry in the Power Rangers franchise. It compiles and edits together the first three episodes of the series into an hour program. (The total is 58:23.) The original episode titles are: "Operation Lightspeed," "Lightspeed Teamwork," and "Trial By Fire." The first part shows the five members of the team being introduced and brought together for the first time; the second shows them using their vehicles ("Rail Rescues") for the first time and learning how to coordinate them in the rescue of a mother and her children from a burning skyscraper; and the third shows Red Ranger Carter Grayson learning a valuable lesson in quick thinking during a rescue operation.

I've always considered this series the best of the entire Power Rangers franchise. It was the first to feature young adult professionals as the team members. While the earlier seasons had devised story lines around the footage from their Japanese "sentai" counterparts, PRLR was the first to actually adapt the original Japanese story lines and basically retell the same stories. As a result, PRLR had a more serious feel to it and a stronger sense of urgency than we got from the earlier seasons. (It was also the first Power Rangers season to completely drop the comical bully characters, Bulk and Skull, from the enterprise.) The young heroes of PRLR are trained in various rescue and emergency management skills and are seen putting them to use. They're dedicated public servants who want to use their skills to help people and not just to ride cool flying craft, wield fancy weapons and fight monsters all day. Sure, those are perks, but not their motivation.

The Japanese sentai counterpart for PRLR was "Go Go Five" (1999), which I've also reviewed on this site. All the spectacular footage of the Rangers' massive high-tech rescue vehicles coming out of the ocean on an elaborate moving rail platform and their passage through the city come from that series, as do all the large-scale urban rescue operations and monster/Megazord battles. I watched the first four episodes of "Go Go Five" again as background for this review and was reminded that the order of the PRLR episodes didn't always match that of its Japanese original. The first PRLR episode here is virtually all newly shot footage. The second episode uses mostly action footage from the Japanese original, including the rescue of a Japanese mother and her children.

The third episode, which pits the Red Ranger against a female villain, Vypra, is virtually all new footage. There are two great fights between the hero and villainess, all newly shot. (The actress playing Vypra, Jennifer L. Yen, was cast because she strongly resembles the actress playing the villainess, Venus, in the Japanese original. Long shots of the character from the original are used in PRLR.) The flashback to Carter's childhood in this episode reflects the use of childhood flashbacks by two of the characters in the third episode of "Go Go Five." The subplot involving a female space shuttle pilot that was featured in the first episode of "Go Go Five" is not seen in this compilation. Instead it was used in the fourth PRLR episode, "Riding the Edge."

I'm a big fan of both series, PRLR and GG5, but for once I'm inclined to give a slight edge to the American remake. In the Japanese original, the five team members are all siblings and the only authority figure ever seen is their father, the man who gives them their orders and supplies them with weapons and zords. He's something of an eccentric, wearing his long gray hair in a ponytail and always adorned in a lab coat. Where does he get his funding? Where's the Japanese government in all of this? In PRLR, on the other hand, there's a whole supersecret government agency behind them, with an underwater base and a large staff visible. The family angle is maintained by making the team's supervisor, Captain Mitchell (Ron Roggé), the father of the Pink Ranger. Had the team in the remake been siblings, it would have meant a loss of the racial diversity the American franchise is famed for. Also, when the members of Go Go Five finish a mission, there's no one to applaud them and congratulate them. In PRLR, the people on the street who've been spared death or serious injury by the Rangers' timely intervention cheer them and thank them loudly. And when the Rangers get back to their Aqua Base (a dazzling miniature set newly built for the American production), the personnel there gather around and celebrate their success. That's nice to see.

The director credited on this tape is Ryuta Tasaki (as spelled on the tape), who'd directed sentai episodes in Japan. PRLR was, I believe, the second PR season (after Power Rangers Lost Galaxy) to use creative personnel recruited directly from the original Japanese production team. Two of them, Koichi Sakamoto and Makoto Yokoyama, are credited on PRLR in two capacities—as Action Choreographers and Stunt Coordinators—and Sakamoto is also credited as co-producer. No wonder it has a tone and sensibility closer to the Japanese original.


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