Watch the Dark and Gritty ‘Power Rangers’ Reboot You’ve Always Wanted (or Dreaded)
As the kids of the ‘80s and early ‘90s are dragged kicking and screaming into middle age, their nostalgia for the things they enjoyed in childhood has only grown stronger. And Hollywood has responded in kind, taking those childhood obsessions and transforming them into movies that are specifically crafted to appeal to adults with fond memories instead of kids. That’s why director Joseph Kahn’s new grim ‘n gritty Power Rangers short film is brilliant and unsettling in equal measure. On one hand, it’s exquisitely made and just tongue-in-cheek enough. On the other, it’s exactly the kind of movie that we’re worried will actually get made in the next few years.
Kahn, a prolific commercial and music video director who also made Torque and Detention, has taken the hackneyed and goofy iconography of Power Rangers and transformed it into a dark and oh-so-serious sci-fi tale filled with strong violence, harsh language, and adult themes. It’s exactly what some people truly want, but it’s also what so many of us dread. But it’s also the kind of interpretation that, for better or worse, has always seemed totally plausible. According to Kahn (in an interview with HitFix), that was the entire point of the project:
I think the trick that I really wanted to do with this was to make that dark and gritty version that everybody keeps talking about, but really do it. Really see if I could totally accomplish it with essentially a really incredible incredibly silly property.
And he has! And he’s done it so well that a lot of people in Hollywood are going to see this and get inspired. Some time ago, the internet collectively rolled its eyes at a leaked Voltron feature screenplay that featured hard violence and characters suffering from extreme trauma. What Kahn has done is imagine that kind of project actually going before cameras. The results are preposterous and that’s the point.
This short is actually the fourth in a series of “bootleg” movies from producer Adi Shankar. He’s previously brought us the downright terrible Dirty Laundry (which brought Thomas Jane back as The Punisher), the surprisingly cool Truth in Journalism (which reinvented a classic superhero villain in a very surprising way), and the baffling animated web series Judge Dredd: Superfiend. We don’t know what Shankar’s business model for these things is, but we admire his gumption.
But back to Power Rangers. Even though this is an extremely well-made 14-minute film featuring actors you actually recognize (hi, James Van Der Beek and Katee Sackhoff), don’t think that Kahn actually wants to make this movie for real. This little experiment is all he has in him:
The irony here is that I wouldn’t even want to make “Power Rangers: The Movie’ for real. Like if I had to make a ‘Power Rangers’ movie, this is it. It’s 14 minutes long and it’s violent and this is what I have in me. If they offered me the 200 million version, the PG-13 version, I literally wouldn’t do it. It’s just not interesting to me.
An actual Power Rangers big screen reboot has been in the works for a few years, but it has recently fallen on hard times. Could this exceptionally well-made short spur that project back into action? Will producers see this and decide “Yes, this is exactly what we want!” The answer is, almost certainly and disconcertingly, yes.
In a related story, Lionsgate has set their big-screen Power Rangers movie for release in 2016.