The Power Rangers was a campy children’s show but it’s morphed into something darker, too dark for some. A “bootleg” fan film was briefly taken down from YouTube and required to include a disclaimer in order to not be confused with the franchise, which will being releasing an official Power Rangers movie in July, 2016.
Producer Adi Shankar says he grew up wanting to be a Power Ranger until he realized they were essentially child soldiers.
“I eventually came to the realization that high school kids weaponized to fight an intergalactic threat would turn those kids into some seriously disturbed adults,” Shankar said in an accompanying video.
The Power Rangers suffer from PTSD and engage in promiscuous sex, drugs and gratuitous violence, all of which are explicitly shown. Director Joseph Kahn warns its not for kids or even adult fanboys.
“It’s not necessarily made for Power Ranger fans NOW, especially kids,” Khan explained in Q&A on reddit. “It was made for Power Rangers fans in the 90’s who grew up and out of it. I’m making a piece of nostolgia for adults in their late 20’s and 30’s, who haven’t thought about them in a minute. And I think that is the vast majority of people in the world. If you’re 30 and still into Power Rangers and dress up in the costumes and all that, then more power to you, but this is not for you.”
The self-funded film was shot in a week, though post production was much longer says Kahn.
“Everytime I do a movie the visual effects company INGENUITY ENGINE suffers because I ask them to do a lot of shit for nothing,” Khan explain. “Like they worked 6 months on this and took a bath financially. This short could not have been made without their talent and sacrifice.”
The special effects are impressive right from the start. It opens with the Power Ranger Megazord being destroyed in a giant robot fight! The Pink Ranger Kimberly (Katee Sackhoff) is interrogated by the second Red Ranger Rocky (James Van Der Beek), who has sided with their enemy the Machine Empire. Van Der Beek has never looked less like the lovable Dawson. He’s a creepy, badass with facial scars and a cybernetic leg that he drags around with an almost symbolic weight. It screams backstory.
Rocky questions Kimberly about their since disbanded team: Blue Ranger Billy (Yves Bright), Yellow Ranger Trina (Camilla Lim), Red Ranger Jason (Stevin Knight) and Black Ranger Zack (Gichi Gamba), who has become an adrenaline junkie and continues to fight alone. When a group of Korean terrorists ask him if he has any last words, he tells them “It’s morphin time.” His helmet unfurls rather than materializing from hammerspace. It has more realistic Sci-Fi feel. The helmet even becomes a weapon unto itself as a bludgeon and deflect bullets back at the shooters. Zack survives the fight but is later assassinated as are his teammates. The most brutal and tragic death is that of Jason, who is murdered on his honeymoon with Kimberly. He is gunned down by their ineffectual school bullies Bulk and Skull, who are sick of being the comic relief. Not even a dystopian future could toughen but the Power Rangers’ robotic assistant Alpha 5. He’s a no show but had he survived to see this bleak future he surely would have cried out his corny catchphrase: “Aye-yi-yi-yi-yi!
Rocky uses Kimberly as bait to lure the Green Ranger Tommy (Russ Bain) whom he suspects being involved in the deaths of his former teammates. Tommy shows up for an epic sword fight. Rocky unfolds his blade and drags it along the floor like a scene out of an samurai anime. Kimberly shoots him before he can deal the final death blow then reveals she’s actually the evil witch Rita (Carla Perez), who tricked Tommy into becoming a Power Ranger to infiltrate the team. Rita explains she is the one responsible for his friends’ death. The scene cuts to black just as Tommy charges her. Unfortunately, this cliffhanger will never be resolved.
“I strictly made it as a short film,” Khan said. “No interest in making it a real movie. It’s designed to be 14 minutes, no more no less.”