Silly Concepts

I’ve mentioned that I ordered a nice stack of books from amazon recently, and they’ve all arrived as of yesterday.  And, given my reading selections of late, it can come as no surprise that the very first new book I pulled was The Crystal Sorcerers by William R. Fortschen and Greg Morrison.  I mean, come on.  I picked up The Crystal Warriors because the premise sounded interesting but the execution looked ridiculous, and it turned out to be an insanely fun read.  I was ready for more in that same vein.

There are two main aspects to the plot of the second book.  First and foremost, the enemies from the first book are not dead, merely suffering a setback.  And their allies are far more fearsome than we knew.  So there is a continuation of the war which had touched Haven.  But the other main line is the fact that, if at all possible, the Japanese and American soldiers would really like to go home, if only to fulfill the oaths they swore to their countries.  A matter of honor, you understand.

It looks like the offworlders, as Haven calls them, get a real break when Kochanski finds a copy of Stonehenge on the opposite side of the planet.  He also finds a druid who thinks he’s an assassin sent by Julius Caesar.  Why is Caesar such a motivating force in all the strangest eighties books I read?  (Never mind that this one’s from 1991, we’re counting it as eighties for the sake of this argument and the fact that nothing changes immediately when a decade officially ends.)  I swear that someday I’ll get back to that other series I keep referring to…someday.

Anyway, it’s clear from the epilogue that more Crystal books were planned at some point, but sadly we only have the two.  So, the ending is not as satisfying as it could be for the end of a series, but there’s nothing that we can do about that.  Suffice to say, that it was another enjoyable adventure and a chance to explore new and different parts of Haven.  In fact, the druid’s home evokes a concept that’s been seen in several other fantasy worlds, including Avatar: The Last Airbender, but in such a way that I grinned when I realized what they were saying.

It’s a damn shame that’s all there is to the series, but I’m still happy to have it and have read it.

That’s not all I read today, of course.  One of the books I ordered from amazon was Saban’s Power Rangers: The Official Movie Novel.  But before I get into the book itself, let’s talk Power Rangers.  Anyone who’s been following long enough knows that I collect the current Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers comics.  The actual issues, not the trade paperbacks.  (I’m a little behind right now, but I may fix that soon.)  But let’s go way back to the beginning of a franchise that is over twenty years old.

I was the perfect age, just five years old, when Fox Kids introduced a new show.  I was in kindergarten, which meant I only had a half day of school in the morning.  Still, my parents worked and so, when school was over, I boarded the Afterschool Club bus.  They took us to the basement of a local synagogue, and the first thing we’d do there was eat lunch and watch the newest episode of Power Rangers.  (After that we’d hang out at the synagogue until school was out in one of the other district buildings, where we’d join the kids there for the rest of Afterschool Club.)  It was, in retrospect, a great way for the staff to keep us quiet for half an hour.  And it was way better than Barney.

Over the years, I’ve faded in and out of Power Rangers.  I’d fallen out of the habit of watching it by the time the first movie came to theaters, and picked it up again about halfway through Power Rangers in Space.  (The less said about Turbo, and its movie, the better.)  I stayed with the show for another few seasons before Wild Force lost my interest again.  I’ve watched several other seasons in their entirety over the years, but you could say that I’m more of a casual and nostalgic fan.  I don’t live and breathe this (or any other) fandom, but I like what I like.  And I always remember that really, this is an insanely silly concept and franchise.  So I can’t knock it for being cheap or poorly done, I can only appreciate what it gets dead to rights.

As you might guess, I greatly enjoy the new movie.  I think it’s the best Power Rangers movie ever…but we all have to know that isn’t saying much at all.  It’s got the highest budget for sure, and in twenty years a lot has improved for special effects.  It’s not the best movie in the world, not by a long shot, but I had a perfectly good time.  I’ve seen some people complaining bitterly about it though, and my conclusion is that they are much more hardcore and dedicated fans than I’ve ever been.  I think that they may have been expecting too much for a big-budget Hollywood adaptation of a kitschy TV show about teenagers in rainbow spandex.

Now, as someone who’s fairly pleased with the movie that came out this year, I own it on bluray.  And I’ve watched every single special feature on that disc, including the commentary.  It was there that I heard the novelization mentioned.  It seemed utterly logical to me that the next step was to get myself a copy.  After all, isn’t that why I generally prefer books to movies?  Because they have all the extra bits that you just can’t convey in film?  Not to mention the last time I picked up a novelization I enjoyed it.  It was the book for Ghost Rider, but I still liked it.  Just like I like those movies.  Yes, I know how bad they are.  Still don’t care!

When I opened my amazon box yesterday and pulled out Power Rangers, I was a bit concerned.  See, the Ghost Rider book is a standard mass market paperback.  A little on the thin side for what I normally read, but still a respectable size of 272 pages.  Power Rangers though…it’s problematic.  The book is a bit larger in format, which does nothing to conceal how thin it is at a mere 158 pages.  Plus a larger font size, super short chapters in many cases…

To me, it reads as if the book was written from an uncut version of the movie.  All the deleted scenes I saw (or heard mentioned in the commentary) were present, but there wasn’t much more.  In fact, dialogue that I know for a fact was adlibbed is in the book!  Which just makes me very sad.  I wanted this book to be so much more, to delve more deeply into the background of the kids, to give more than a note or two on things the movie didn’t have time to go into, to just…be more.  Instead, it’s about the same, or even a bit less.  That amazingly long, climactic battle?  It’s three chapters.  Three short chapters.  I had to reread at points to make sure I hadn’t skipped over anything.

Now, I’m not going to blame John Gatins, the movie screenwriter, for the book’s failings.  But Alex Irvine?  The person who adapted the screenplay?  This one’s the problem.  A quick check on Wikipedia says that he’s done a number of similar adaptations as well as some original fiction.  I have to then ask why he’s done such a shitty job.  Oh sure, I know the names of the original Power Rangers, but if we’re using a third person limited perspective, you shouldn’t use Trini’s name until we’ve actually been introduced to her.  And since Trini doesn’t get an introductory scene by herself, that means not using her name until she actually gives it, because no one else knows it.

Also I refuse to call it the “Morphin’ Grid.”  Leaving the “g” off was a very nineties thing to do in the show title and does reflect how people talk.  But when you’re writing, it should most definitely be the “Morphing Grid.”

The book is definitely written for younger audiences, maybe first and second-graders.  It can’t be that surprising, but it’s still disappointing that there’s so little to it.  I’ll keep the book for the time being, but I will continue to hope for something more satisfying.  Like the comics.  I really should get over to a comic shop soon.

There is also one line near the end of the book about the gold mine being gone.  Which is not surpising, given the fact that Rita took all the gold to build Goldar.  But I have to wonder…was the mine there in the first place because of Goldar?  It’s not something the book or movie touches on, but simply a thought which occurs to me.

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