So yesterday I was turned on to the video above, a "Power Rangers" short fan film starring James Van Der Beek and Katee Sackhoff as Rocky & Kimberly and directed by Joseph Kahn, a music video director who also directed the film "Detention" starring KOTD Founder Organik and Grindtime staple Dumbfounded. Before I completely tear this film asunder, let me say that the production quality of this is STELLAR! The costumes are amazing, the choreography is fantastic and the effects are awesome! Everyone involved in this project should feel very proud of themselves. That being said, this is an abomination, and I'll explain why after the break;
|This was the BEST thing about this...after that it's all downhill.|
This short film is the complete amalgamation of what's wrong with the current reboot culture we're living in and suffers from what I call "Reboot Syndrome". What is "Reboot Syndrome"? "Reboot Syndrome" is when a popular thing that is somewhat serious in story but handled in a light-hearted way is taken by Hollywood, drained of all it's humor and made darker, more serious and "gritty". The word "gritty" implies "realistic" but what it really means is a lot of low colors, unshaven men who drink who drink and grit their teeth when they speak, and everyone scowls. While this may work for Batman & Crime Noir stories it has NO business here.
|Obvious signs of Reboot Syndrome.|
"Power/Rangers" embodies "Reboot Syndrome" perfectly, so much so in fact that it's almost a parody of the problem with "gritty" reboots. Let's start with the violence. "Power Rangers" (despite what Australia believes) was by NO MEANS a violent show, this short film however was massively violent. Am I some squeamish prude who hates violence? Seeing as how I've seen all 7 "Saw" films and my favorite shows on TV both feature serial killers as their main antagonists, I'd say I'm pretty mellow in the violence category. However, there is violence and then there's "Gritty Violence". Here's the difference: Violence: Is when a character gets shot, "Gritty Violence" is when a character gets shot and their blood splashes all over the screen to remind you of how violent and hardcore it is. That's the difference.
This isn't to say "Gritty Violence" is bad, but it's a lot like salt, using it too much can ruin a good dish, and using "gritty violence" too much can ruin a good movie. "Power Rangers" was never this violent, and while I understand that this is supposed to be a realistic adaptation of the "Power Rangers", that very same thing can be accomplished and taken seriously without blood splattering all over the screen or someone getting stabbed in the eye. Look no further than the original 1990 "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movie. The Turtles were handled in a realistic and serious fashion, and while the fight scenes with the turtles were violent (I mean hell, Ralph was almost beaten to death and The Foot Clan tried to murder the turtles on numerous occasions), Leo & Ralph didn't go around stabbing and decapitating Foot Clan members.
Or for something closer to home, let's look at "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation" (which is pretty much a "Power Ranger" movie). The fight scenes in that movie were top notch, the threat of violence was there but there wasn't massive blood or people getting stabbed in the eye socket. If you were to change the characters in "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation" you could turn that into a pretty badass "Power Ranger" movie. The tone of "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation" was bad by "Mortal Kombat" standards but perfect for a "Power Rangers" movie. Furthermore, where does this violence come from? The Power Ranger's foes have NEVER been human, humanoid and mutant but never human and therefore wouldn't bleed human blood. In fact the featured enemies in the short film is The Machine Empire (emphasis on MACHINE)! They could've made The Cogs into hardened badass like Skynet terminators (while still keeping the same design of The Cogs). But instead we get primarily human soldiers JUST so we can see Zack stab them in the eye socket and blow their brains out so blood can splatter all over the camera, HARDCORE!
Also this level of grittiness is uncalled for as we have Zack doing cocaine. Why? Again, I feel like that was thrown in there for the sole purpose of them going "These aren't your Dad's Power Rangers! They're hardcore and gritty and serious and dark!" and it just comes off as pandering to the lamest gritty cliche' of a character with some sort of substance problem (alcohol, drugs, infidelity, sex...you name it). It feels like it's going out of it's way to make this as FAR removed from the original character and source material as possible, so far as to make it COMPLETELY UNRECOGNIZABLE!
This brings me to the characters. The characters are ALL WRONG in this short, all of them and even bits & pieces are wrong. For example, Jason & Kimberly getting married?! No, it's always been Kimberly & Tommy, ever after she broke up with him in a "Dear John" letter and the producers tried to force Kat onto us. That was completely out of leftfield! Bulk & Skull being assassins for The Machine Empire...NO! Rocky becoming a traitor?! NO! Zack being a coke snorting, Billy Blanks rip-off working as an assassin...NO! Tommy being some alcohol drinking, unshaven grumbly dude with a scar on his face hanging out in an alley carrying a sword, NO! The ONLY thing that works here was Billy becoming some sort of technology mogul, that makes absolute perfect sense. But still NO!
If they were gonna do a more serious take on "Power Rangers" they could've had the Rangers be older, well into adult age with children and jobs and a new life outside of "Power Rangers", only for something to happen again and Tommy having to rally The Rangers together who are now older and out of practice. They could have focused on the Rangers having to leave their family behind to go fight evil, they could've focused on the training to get their skills back, the injuries they endure and the absolute cost of what it means to be a "Power Ranger". These are all very mature & serious topics that can be dealt with WITHOUT having unshaven characters who constantly scowl and do coke, and you can do all of this WITHOUT "gritty violence". Just look at "The Protector", the fight scenes in that movie are AMAZING and yet no blood was spilled, the violence wasn't off putting and you got the point that Tony Jaa was not a man you wanna mess with. The same could be done with The Power Rangers WITHOUT having them killing people.
All in all, the main reason this short film concerns me is because I can't help but worry that it's popularity will effect the upcoming reboot film announced earlier this year. And while no cast has been set for it and we're not even sure if they're going to do "Mighty Morphin'" (all signs point to yes) or something entirely different, the jury is still out and whether or not this film will actually see the light of day. But still, I can't help but worry that they're going to try and give "Power Rangers" the "Reboot Treatment" and completely miss what made "Power Rangers" good in the first place. Below is a fan made trailer of what a SERIOUS "Power Rangers" movie should look like, look at this and go back to the short film and tell me which one is much more honest to the franchise. I'm Ugo Strange and this is just my opinion.