Wow, I’m grateful that I didn’t leave my morpher at home yesterday as Zordon made an emergency phone call about this intense viral video called “Power/Rangers.” Seriously, I just had a conversation two nights ago about the potential reunion of the original cast of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers on Dino Thunder. Talk about coincidental – “Power/Rangers” appeared of nowhere like a bunch of putties and garnered millions of views faster than you could say, “It’s morphin’ time!”
All hail the brilliance of YouTube and fan films – this is everything I love about the emergence of comic con culture as it brings out the absolute best in people’s creativity. Power/Rangers stars James Van Der Beek from Dawson’s Creek as Rocky DeSantos – the second red ranger – and Battlestar Galactica actress Katee Sackhoff as Kimberly Hart – the original pink ranger. Producer Adi Shankar – best known for his short film The Punisher: Dirty Laundry – teamed up with director Joseph Kahn to create a gritty fourteen-minute interpretation of our beloved Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.
The film revisits the first two seasons of Powers Rangers – Mighty Morphin’ and Zeo From what I understand, the Power Rangers disbanded during the Zeo era once the government signed a treaty to end the war with the Machine Empire. The only issue – the Machine Empire’s technology was integrated into society and took over the world (Think Skynet in Terminator). Rather than fight a losing battle, former red ranger Rocky DeSantos teamed with his former Zeo nemesis and betrayed his allies. Throughout the film, we witness the fate of the original Power Rangers as they were either murdered or died in battle. Rocky is on the hunt for Tommy Oliver – the green ranger – and Kimberly is being held hostage to lore Tommy out of the shadows since he’s the last remaining Ranger powerful enough to destroy the Machine Empire.
Cue in my “DAMN DUDE!!!!!!!” I’m a longtime Power Rangers fanatic and I seriously loved this interpretation of the original storyline. For anyone who drew a picture of the Power Rangers or played with the toys when we were younger, just imagine your storyline (very dark storyline) coming to life on a highly accessible platform. Much credit to the filmmakers, Ani Shankar and Joseph Kahn managed to rile our emotions by creating some heart wrenching storylines for each of our favorite fighters.
My first reaction to this film was, “HOLY SHIT, ROCKY IS EVIL!” His betrayal struck a chord since he was second in command on the team. This man used to embody the purest aspects of leadership and courage. Still though, I absolutely dug his resentment towards Zordon for recruiting the Power Rangers to fight a galactic war at such a young age. James Van Der Beek really conveyed the feeling that Rocky suffered from PTSD since the Rangers were portrayed like military unit along the lines of Halo or District 9. The hostility of a deteriorated team was evident, especially when Kimberly told Rocky, “You never were one of us.” I also loved Rocky’s pun insult to Kimberly, “Bullshit is an awful color on you” to which she replied, “I prefer pink!”
Speaking of original rangers, one of my favorite scenes occurred when Zack Taylor fought the rebellion army in North Korea. I absolutely hate that Zack joined the Machine Empire since it goes against his moral values. However, I love that he flipped the middle finger towards his enemies and yelled “It’s morphin’ time!” Truth be told, I lost my mind when they showed Zack’s “Hip Hop Kido” infomercial, so I would personally like to thank the filmmakers for giving me a reason to mark out.
As a longtime Zeo fanatic, I also appreciated this film’s integration of the Machine Empire. Since Mighty Morphin’ is always considered the gold standard, people forget how Zeo was a direct continuation of the original series. During the Zeo storyline, Billy Cranston relinquished his position as a Power Ranger to develop weapons for the team alongside Alpha-5. Talk about some unexpected plot twists – Billy grew up and become a billionaire by manufacturing weapons for his former nemesis. Billy inherently used his knowledge for financial gain therefore removing any moral compass from the character. Unfortunately, the Power Rangers were no exception to egotistical corruption. I applaud the filmmakers for approaching these sort of moral conflicts. This wasn’t some miniscule drama at the Angel Grove Youth Center – this was a life altering mix of military combat, CIA espionage, and political desolation.
My stomach nearly turned upside down when we witnessed the assassination of Jason Scott. For goodness sake, we’re talking about the original red ranger! To make matters even worse, Bulk and Skull exposed his true identity to the government and he was murdered on his wedding day. Also, am I the only who felt kind of eerie during Trini Kwan’s funeral since Thuy Trang – the original actress- tragically passed way from a car accident in 2001? The funeral served as a critical moment since Trini’s death might have been the final straw that destroyed the Rangers morale, yet I still felt uneasy since Thuy Trang passed away in reality.
Anyway, let’s not forget that Power/Rangers was a passion project with no financial incentives or sequels planned in the future. This is a FAN MADE FILM and viewers shouldn’t acknowledge this as a concrete representation of the Power Rangers franchise. This film’s dark maturity is geared towards the original fanbase currently in their twenties. I’m pretty positive Haim Saban – the creator of Power Rangers – will absolutely hate the violence and gore attached to Power/Rangers. Before Saban requests the removal of this film, he should look at the big picture and recognize this video’s viral power.
Straight up, I’ve had multiple friends hit me up and ask if I saw this video? I’ve also seen nearly twenty of my friends post Power/Rangers on Facebook. From what I gathered on social media, the audience reaction has been extremely positive. People are watching this video by the million’s and will likely be interested in the reboot next summer. This is viral marketing at its finest – Power Rangers will be a hot topic for the next couple of weeks.
Going off my last point, here’s my pitch to any executive or decision maker attached to the Power Rangers franchise. FOR YEARS NOW, Jason David Frank – the original Green and White Ranger – has asked Haim Saban to develop a mature and realistic “Green Ranger” series. This isn’t recent news either. I hope someone in the corporate offices of Nickelodeon or SABAN recognizes the full potential of this film. Power/Rangers managed to attract a huge portion of the 18-34 demographic. Honestly, I enjoyed how this film portrayed Tommy in a Batman-Dark Knight fashion, so I’d love to see the “Green Ranger” series resemble an “Arrow” sort of universe. Keep it PG-13 so it doesn’t alienate the younger fanbase but capitalize on the nostalgia and create a Netflix exclusive series for the older audience. Once again, it’s time to call on “The Dragon Zord” so strike while the iron is hot!