Gritty Power Rangers Film Drops
Ever wanted to see a Power Ranger shoot a bunch of people in the face? Good news! Today, Torque / Music Video Director Joseph Kahn just released a short-film / fan trailer of a gritty Power Rangers reboot starring Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica’s “Starbuck”) and James Van Der Beek (“I Don’t Want Your Life”).
Check it out below. Or, read my brief description that follows if you ain’t got time for that:
The video opens with battleworn group of Power Rangers racing into a grim, gray warscape, firing machine guns and ducking explosions. We catch a glimpse of the Green Ranger wearing a holographic version of his traditional gold foam shoulder/chest triangle armor, which is a badass idea. Then the camera zips up, and you get a Transformers-esque mole’s-eye-view of the Megazord duking it out with another giant robot/monster.
From there it segues into an interrogation room, where a cyborg Beek (playing Rocky, the second Red Ranger) is interrogating Katee Sackhoff (who is revealed to be Kimberly the OG Pink Ranger, all growns up, in a pretty hilarious line of dialogue). From there we’re treated to various montages of what the other Rangers have been up to, which is “getting brutally murdered.” Eventually Tommy (the Green Ranger) shows up to rescue Kimberly, who isn’t Kimberly, it’s a whole twist thing, the end.
The cinematography is undoubtedly cool, even if the color palette drifts toward “DC Movie” levels of desaturation. The fight scenes are surprisingly badass, and the CGI and acting is way better than it has any right to be. No question. It’s a cool trailer, it’s a cool short film, and I enjoyed the hell out of every second of it. If you liked Power Rangers, especially the original run, you have to watch it.
Let’s Be Clear – It’s a Parody
I’ve already been hearing lots of internet noise about how awesome it would be for a real Power Rangers movie to be like the gritty world of the short film. Now, I’m going to be honest with you: I would watch that movie just out of morbid curiosity, and because the short film was quality and certainly entertaining. There’s a real “Watchmen for Power Rangers” vibe that is infectious, and even the short film takes some deconstructive stabs at the franchise.
Comparing the Power Rangers to child soldiers, and the horror of that idea, is actually a sharp, lucid concept that never occurred to me until that moment. Deconstructions are a fun way to throw a big bright light on something you enjoy, the way Watchmen did for superhero comics.
Watchmen pointed out a lot of the silly things about comics, and then tried to explain them. Why all the tights? Most superheroes have weird sexual exhibition issues. What happens to a guy who spends every night beating the shit out of criminals? He becomes a crazy homeless person. How would people react to a transhuman Superman-god? Not well.
Opening up the “Super Sentai” concept and peeking under the hood is fine by me. A bunch of kids drafted into intergalactic war by a weird floating head can bare some examination, I agree.
This video is a parody. If you weren’t sure, it stars James Van Der Beek as a badass cyborg ninja. It has Bulk and Skull murder Jason over meth while Kimberly (in a wedding dress) screams in agony. It has Zack snorting blow and then doing Zumba videos. Any one of these could have served as the vital clue.
Now, I’m not crapping on the video: it’s a hilarious parody. As a Power Rangers fan, I laughed plenty throughout the runtime. As you should. As should everyone. But in no universe should a Power Rangers reboot look like this. There are about seventeen gruesome depictions of headshots, either from Power Rangers getting murdered OR from Power Rangers murdering people. They work in the video because they’re over-the-top hilarious, but that’s not what the Power Rangers are about. Obviously. The video was about our tendency to “grimerize” every possible property, no matter how silly or childish it used to be.
A Power Rangers Reboot Shouldn’t Be Silly, Either
As a seven-year-old fan of superhero comics, I was pretty much at ground zero of the blast radius of the Power Rangers debut. I watched Power Rangers, I religiously taped and rewatched every episode on VHS (yeah), I played “Power Rangers” at school on the playground. I was Jason, no big deal. Ladies, try to keep your underpants firmly affixed, I’m married. When I wasn’t watching or acting out Power Rangers episodes, I was talking about them in hushed, crack-addict speed-whispers to all desks adjacent to mine.
Why did I love Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers? Because I loved Ninja Turtles. Because I loved superheroes. And because the Power Rangers were BAD. ASS. They kicked the shit out of everyone, no matter how big or terrifying. They used swords and axes and bows and that trident thing that Billy has. They drove a bunch of hardcore dinosaur mechs that turned into a big samurai mech. They were teenagers with attitude, man!
There’s an entire arc where an evil Power Ranger tricks the group, gains their trust, and then betrays them! Kimberly’s heartbreak was gutwrenching! How could Tommy do this? And then, hold your fucking horses, here comes Tommy’s redemption arc? How’s he going to earn their trust again? Does he deserve to? Stay tuned for next week motherfuckers!
This shit was Shakespeare. This shit was Dallas. This shit burned our minds.
I recently rewatched an episode of “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” because it was on Netflix. That was a bad fucking idea. That show is a mess. It’s corny, poorly-acted, poorly-written. The music gave my ears cancer, and an appearance by Bulk and Skull actually made me pull my t-shirt over the lower half of my face in attempt to escape from my own embarrassment.
Now, is this the show’s fault? Maybe. I loved “Batman: The Animated Series” as a kid, too, and when I rewatch that show it’s still incredible. However, I’m also smart enough to understand that the show wasn’t meant to stand up to the cold scrutiny of 30-year-old writers. It was meant for kids.
But here’s the counterpoint: you know what isn’t meant for kids? A big-budget reboot of a show that first aired 22 years ago. Who are the audience for reboots of old TV shows? Adults. Nostalgia-infected grown-ups who want to relive a little of their childhood without having to expose themselves to the original show’s harmful tachyons.
I don’t want to see Bulk or Skull, or hear their stupid theme song. I don’t want to see foam shoulder pads deflecting laser blasts. I don’t want to see a badly-dubbed Rita Repulsa dance and frolick while calliope music drills into my scrotum.
Why? Because none of those things are badass. When kids originally watched Power Rangers, they weren’t appreciating the “camp.” They weren’t digging on the surrealism, or appreciating the cultural melange of a Japanese show re-edited and retooled for American audiences. Kids watched Power Rangers because the Power Rangers were BAD. ASS. The Power Rangers were cool to us. Not “ironically” cool, not “campy” cool, not “cool for kids.” We really thought they were fucking radical. Like Corn Nuts.
When I someday buy my ticket for a Power Ranger’s reboot with Jason, Tommy, Kimberly, Trini, Billy, and Zack, I’m hoping to see something bad ass. I don’t want an accurate representation of what the show actually was. To quote Jerry Holkins of Penny-Arcade on the subject of remakes and reboots: “Don’t show me what I saw before. Make me feel how I felt before.”
Which is why . . .
Power Rangers Needs to Be a Comic Book Movie
That’s all. Power Rangers was always a superhero show. How we do superhero stories has changed; We actually take them kind of seriously nowadays. Arguing for a silly Power Rangers movie is exactly the same as saying that the Tim Burton Batman movie should have been more like the Adam West show.
The Power Rangers were heroes to me and an entire generation. They weren’t a joke. They shouldn’t be a punchline. Now, our current pop cultural landscape allows for superhero stories that are badass AND fun. Think Iron Man, think the 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Think Avengers. That’s the tone that a Power Rangers movie should strike.
All I’m saying is this: Hollywood, please let me write the Power Rangers reboot. COME ON DO IT PLEEEEEASE.
I promise to include a scene where the Megazord’s left leg gets chopped off, and it’s struggling to keep fighting, but then Billy breaks out his tools and repairs his now-separated Triceratops Zord and saves the team at the last second by impaling the enemy robot with its horns!
Yeah. EXACTLY. Yeah. I’m awaiting your email, Hollywood.
Or you could just let Brett Ratner do it. That’s fine too.