Cards on the table, I never really got into Power Rangers. I was a little bit older than the generation who were super into it when it hit in the U.S., and as a result it was more of a pop culture phenomenon that I watched from a distance. Because of that, I’m pretty indifferent to all the talk of a big budget Power Rangers movie—I’m excited about it as a huge genre tentpole, but I don’t have any particular emotional investment in it one way or another. That said, after watching this dark, gritty Power Ranger fan film, I hope Hollywood it taking notes, because this is awesome. Check it out.
To call this a “fan film” is something of a misnomer. It’s unofficial, to be sure, and the people behind are indeed fans, but they’re also professionals in the entertainment industry. Rest assured, we’re not talking about a bunch of friends in a backyard with a video camera.
First off, it stars Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) and James Van Der Beek (CSI: Cyber). Adi Shankar, who was behind the animated Dredd: Superfiend a while back, as well as that grim Punisher short Dirty Laundry, is the driving force behind it. To cap it all off, Joseph Kahn, the filmmaker behind the likes of Torque and Detention, directed the whole thing.
And the result is pretty damn awesome. This is bleak and violent and definitely R-rated, not to mention it has a cool, future noir aesthetic that’s something of a cross between Blade Runner and Minority Report design wise. You also get a more realistic approach to the idea of training and weaponizing kids and sending them into combat. It certainly wouldn’t be all bright colors and spandex.
One of the more interesting things about this is that Kahn is not actually a fan of Power Rangers. Talking to Hitfix about this short, he said:
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.
After an overall horrible experience on Torque, Kahn quickly soured on studios, critics, and the industry as a whole. He’s never been shy about expressing his opinions either, and with Lionsgate working on a massive scale Power Rangers, even if they handed him the keys, he doesn’t want them. He continued:
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.
So we won’t be seeing a big screen, Joseph Kahn-directed Power Rangers, but this 14-minute short is a damn fine substitute.