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The new Power/Rangers short film, released just yesterday morning, produced by Adi Shankar and directed by Joseph Kahn is the refreshing surprise the sci-fi action world wasn’t expecting.  Gritty, serious, and a little funny, all 80’s babies who like a good action reboot film and all those who remember dressing up as a Power Ranger for Halloween are sure to get a kick out of this.  But if you’re going to enjoy this, you have to know what you’re getting into.

 

First and foremost, one must understand that despite the R rating, you have to have a good sense of humor to fully appreciate this.  The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (rangers?  As in “park rangers??”) was a silly, goofy, low-budget children’s TV show from the early 90’s on Fox. One book worm, 1 adorable gay nerdy kid, two karate students, one valley girl cheerleader, and one cool hip-hop dancer are chosen to fight magical, intergalactic creatures. Despite the show’s laughable casting of the asian girl being the yellow ranger, the Black dude being the black ranger, and the white girl being the pink ranger, the show became an instant success with kids. (I was obsessed!)  Which is why all the gratuitous violence, profanity, and drugs makes this all too perfectly enjoyable.

 

The 14 minute film excels in most ways. The film starts off with a gritty Private Ryanesque scene where the rangers are firing what appear to be rifles instead of phasers, then we see a really badass scene of zords fighting each other in the mountainous background in great CGI, which starkly contrasts with the ludicrous low-budget action sequences from the TV show (which had clunky robots walking along miniature cities in the safe “abandoned part of town”).  Rocky, the second incarnation of the Red Ranger, has joined the evil machine empire forces and is torturing pink ranger Kimberly 15-20 years after their teenage days.  The machine empire is near to taking over this dystopic human society.  The film mentions the little considered fact that the rangers were children soldiers. (Hello, relevance to modern day issues!)  Other aspects are really awesome, like how Bulk and Skull are involved in one of the ranger’s murders, the childish Power Ranger uniforms are still used, but have technological enhancements, (like the Green Ranger’s green vest has this really intriguing mystical quality that is a definitely cool), and the live-action scenes are really excellent.  Of course the rangers would start falling for each other, so the love scenes are a nice touch, also.  As well, the end twist is unexpected and fun.

Some aspects left one wanting more.  James Van Der Beek, bless his sexy heart, was unable to pull-off the convincing villain, especially when his lines were so poorly written.  One senses the film tries too hard when Van Der Beek, way too often is inanely fingering projected air computer screens for no clear reason.  Katee Sackhoff does a serviceable job, but leaves us wanting more from her dramatically.  She could give us some laughs, befuddlement, or tears, and not just the monotonous strong tough female throughout the entire film.

The film focuses on the lame interrogation of Kimberly and the long-winded history of Zack, when it really should have focused on what happened to all of the rangers and Zordon – that’s what fans really wanted to see and would have been interesting.  The ending is a little cheesy, having Tommy trying to kill Rita, when it might have been more interesting to have him smile, tear-up, fall to his knees, look scared, anything but take a swing (cause their hasn’t been enough sword fighting so far?).

Certain things don’t really make sense.  Why focus so much on the histories of Jason, Kimberly, and Tommy, but have little to no history of Billy and Trini? And why feature only one of the future ranger incarnations (Rocky) and never even discuss any of the others?

Nevertheless, the short film is a treat and hopefully not the end of what seems like could be something great.  I’d like to see this start a trend in high quality moving remakes of campy 90’s TV shows.  She-Ra, for example, is definitely do for a reboot.

Written by Fusion Alternative Blogger: David Fair

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