The Latest From the Insane-Sounding ‘Power Rangers’ Reboot
Hollywood has recently dove down a deep rabbit hole of taking universally loved properties, and then trying to reboot them in the most “dark and gritty” way humanly possible. Calling something “gritty” though has pretty much become the norm, with filmmakers more often than not shooting everything in grey tones, focusing on a tortured anti-hero, and usually featuring death and gore left and right. It’s not an inherently bad way to make a movie, but it’s nothing if not played out in today’s climate in cinema. What the upcoming Power Rangers movie reboot looks like though seems to align directly with this trend.
Details leaked to Heroic Hollywood, describe characters in pulpy paragraphs that sound like something straight out of a Danielle Steel novel edited by Tom Clancy. Take for example the classic Power Rangers villain Rita Repulsa:
A huntress. A striking, yet subtly alien-looking woman. She carries a metallic staff topped with a distinctive crescent shape. Advances with a soldier’s confidence, guided by some sort of compass… Her staff is actually a device of immense power. She points it at the ground. Heads emerge, built layer upon layer like 3-D printing, made from the earth itself… The staff’s technology grants her the ability to create humanoid figures, soulless and robotic.
It practically screams “gritty reboot” of The Dark Knight‘s ilk, only this time it’s using source material that’s never attempted to go in this direction, save for Joseph Kahn’s controversial unlicensed short film starring James Van Der Beek and Katee Sackhoff. Incidentally, it worked beautifully for Kahn in the abbreviated format, but he also wasn’t subject to things like studio approval or demands for rewrites. For Saban’s feature-length reboot in development, what we get could be something that completely misses the mark in the name of trying to be “gritty.”
The original Power Rangers was about as campy as you could possibly get. Everything from the acting to the fight sequences was patently ridiculous, and yet a whole generation of kids grew up loving it. It would serve any movie reboot to understand these roots, and to try and infuse that same spirit into the final product. Attempting to darken the tone could backfire in a big way, especially when you’re working with a built-in audience expecting a particular product. Unless you’re on the short list of directors capable of delivering a effectively gritty film, odds are things will get mucked up in the attempt.
All this aside, a modern update could very well make for an intriguing movie. There’s a whole mythos to unlock with vaguely defined terms, that any creative screenwriter worth their salt could turn into an expansive new universe. It’s just a question of balancing the campy tone of the source material with today’s storytelling techniques. If it’s going to truly be “gritty,” don’t let the humor die in the process. Otherwise, you risk alienating those same people who grew up on the cheesy TV show.
Whatever the final product ends up being, there’s a fair amount to be learned from Kahn’s short film in terms of stylizing the Power Rangers’ world. Even as an effort without the blessing of Saban, Kahn gave us one of the best fan-films ever to hit the web, something that any director who takes this project on should remember. Anything put out will immediately be measured up against what’s become the gold standard for how the new Power Rangers should look and act. That said, it’ll be important for the reboot to do one of two things: Commit to this new tone full-bore, or completely revamp the universe into something entirely different. Here’s hoping for the former.
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