Thoughts on Adi Shankar’s Power/Rangers

Like many of you, I watched Power Rangers as a kid. I recall vividly when the pilot for “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” aired that stifling summer of ’93. Way back in the day, there was absolutely nothing like it on TV, so my reaction to the first episode became forever forged in my memory. The concept of the show was fresh and so out of this world, what wasn’t there to like? You had a fun loving diverse group of teenagers who were plucked from their mundane lives and bestowed incredible mystical powers by Zordon, an interdimensional being who could only be seen as a floating head inside caught in a time warp (that’s kind of messed up).

Power Rangers had a lot of fun and heart and never took itself too seriously. Even at 11 years old, the cheap puppets and special effects were immediately obvious. The acting was less than stellar overall and the plots were pretty absurd, yet I kept tuning in every week. Of course, the absurdity of the show became more and more apparent as I grew a older. By my mid-teens and post MMPR the feature film, my interest started to wane as the cheapness of the show gnawed at my sensibilities. After an incredibly long hiatus of about 15 years, and now as an adult, once more I started watching some of the original series as well as the newer ones. The show still rife with cheap plots and effects, has gradually (albeit marginally) gotten better. Power Rangers Super Megaforce is now filmed in HD and looks crisp in 1080p. The monsters for the most part still look very fake, what with their mouths that barely move (some not at all).

Earlier in the week when sipping on a particularly delicious cup of coffee, I came across the news on Twitter that Adi Shankar and Joseph Kahn released a 15 minute fan-film, funded entirely by their own pockets. My Twitter stream was full of discussion about this dark and gritty take on the venerable 90s TV series. Once I heard that Kate Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) was playing the pink Power Ranger, my nerd brain practically exploded all over the walls of my apartment.

I watched the short and generally have to say it was well done for what it’s meant to be. It’s not a reboot because it was a non profit labour of love by a true fan of the original show, and it also wasn’t sanctioned by Saban Entertainment. The production quality, practical and special effects were impressive for a low budget short film. The caliber of actors that committed to the project were impressive and everyone did a fantastic job with the material provided to them.

Its’s been a few days since the video went viral and I trust Power Ranger fans have cooled off and have come to their senses that no one will produce an R-rated film based on a brand, yes that’s right, it’s a brand. Power Rangers was and has always been a show that was targeted at a younger audience, but just happens to also appeal to some adults; the ones that grew up on the original. With every new series comes a toy line and countless other merchandising opportunities. So let’s have a reality check and not get our hopes up that Lionsgate films would ever produce a movie even close to what we saw with Shankar and Kahn’s vision. I’m not saying that you can’t reboot the show and improve upon it, because there are a mountain of things to build upon, but you can forget about a hyper-violent MMPR.

I don’t think we need a uber dark, gritty, and bleak Power Rangers. PG-13 would be provide plenty of space for hardcore action and intense drama. What they should focus on for the upcoming movie and hopefully TV series, is better costume designs, improved monsters, and less ridiculous plots. In fact, I think a new series with one cohesive story arc about a group of teenagers forced to fight an intergalactic war would be awesome. There’s so much we can do with expounding on character backstories, how being a Power Ranger affects their daily lives, relationships with one another, and their mental health. Let’s make it happen Saban!