Sage's Stray Thoughts Episode 14: No No Power Rangers

Earlier this week Adi Shankar's long-awaited "Power/Rangers" fan film came out, starring Katee Sackhoff and James Van Der Beek along with a handful of other known actors.  The film is set after the Machine Empire from Power Rangers Zeo attack the Earth, and sees a captured Kimberly (Sackhoff) learn what happened to the other Rangers after they lost the war.

Here's a look at the film below:

The short film has had an almost universally positive response, so of course I've got to be the contrarian asshole here: This film is so far beneath garbage that I'm surprised my eyes didn't projectile vomit trying to watch it.

I want to say there are some good parts.  The effects are half-decent, and that makes me excited because it means good things for fan films going forward.   You can tell the creators, if they aren't fans of the material, they at least did their homework, because there are some cute little references in the movie: Zach grows up and becomes a guy who does exercise videos, teaching "Hip-Hop-Kido".  Billy becomes a multi-billionaire selling his inventions, but if you pay close attention there's a magazine cover that shows him in the arms of another man, referencing David Yost (the original Billy)'s real life homosexuality.   These are cool little nods that show, if not an appreciation for the source material, at least that they had knowledge of it.

But everything else?   This film is a giant cliche of dubstep and gratuitous violence that manages to be a combination of every reboot I've ever seen, all rolled into fifteen minutes.  It opens with a brief flashback of shaky cam footage even though that's the only time you're actually going to see the entire team together. For some reason the Megazord looks like a stupid Bayformer.  There's unnecessary, Tarantino-esque violence everywhere--so many kills are headshots that splatter hilarious amounts of blood all over the camera.  The Rangers' suits are covered in dirt and grit even though they are quite literally magic and should recreate themselves each time the Rangers summon them.  (I think it was to drive home how serious! everything was, though.)  Why is any of this in a movie about the fucking Power Rangers?  Because a long time ago people figured out what appeals to Gen Xers and Millenials, and they know just what buttons to push to take you from "Eh, maybe" to "THAT WAS AWESOME!".

Which is fairly consistently the reaction its gotten.  I've seen "This is what Power Rangers should be like!" more times than a thread where someone introduces a group of people to a good Super Sentai.   It's certainly what I wanted from Power Rangers when I was a teenager, I guess.   But let me ask you: What makes it "adult"?   Skull pumping Jason full of lead?  Zach doing lines of coke after having a threesome?   Those are certainly hilarious scenes, but I wouldn't call them adult by any means.   It appeals to your baser impulses for certain, but just because something is "not for kids" doesn't automatically make it for adults.  

I'm not saying there isn't room for a more serious take on Power Rangers--but I think RPM managed to explore quite a bit of that territory without draining all the color out of the costumes and brutally murdering the entire team.  It could be just him towing the company line, but the real Tommy seems to agree with me.    

What's annoying is how close it could've come to being a decent film.  The Machine Empire make great villains, and the change over from Power Rangers to Zeo was one of the most tense and dramatic parts of the early, "connected" Power Rangers lore.  Showing the enslavement of the planet after the Power Rangers are beaten by the Empire, then following their quest to find the Zeo Crystal has tons of potential.   By all means--change the costumes from spandex to armor; that's a change that both makes sense and I agree with.  I'm pretty sure they don't do it for the shows because of the expenses, honestly.  By all means--crank up the martial arts to Raid-levels (something that would've helped this film quite a bit).  But leave some room for hope.  For optimism.  Don't be afraid to appeal to people's inner child, instead of the inner teenager.  

Now let's talk about something a bit less divisive.  Marvel recently convinced Sony to work with them on getting their premiere character into their cinematic universe.  This announcement meant a handful of things, but first and most importantly is that Spider-Man is getting another reboot, which officially makes him the superhero with the most amount of retries in films right now.    It also means it's time to look at a new actor to take on the role.

This news has been looked at as the chance to re-start the #Donald4Spider-Man movement.  As a huge Childish Gambino fan, I can't say I would be terribly disappointed if this announcement were to happen, but I wouldn't put much stock in it.   It's doubtful that Marvel is "afraid" to use a black Spider-Man, and honestly at this point if you have a problem with it you're just being weird about it.  There are five films with a white Peter Parker already--and at least three of them are actually fairly good--it's not going to kill you if he's black, or if they use Miles Morales this time.   But Marvel's already said they would prefer to use a younger, high school-aged actor this time, and considering Donald's already 31 and the first Spider-Man film isn't scheduled until 2017...that might be an issue.

So instead, allow me to point you to a different actor.

 Jaden Smith is sixteen going on thirteen, and even when Spider-Man actually launches in 2017, he'll still be 18 years old and likely won't look much older than he does now.  He's an actor that can be involved with the Marvel film franchise series for years to come.  He's already a well-known actor and it's a partnership that could only benefit both Marvel and Jaden going forward.   

As far as who should he play, I lean towards Miles Morales but I wouldn't be opposed to a black Peter Parker.  After all, the MCU hasn't strayed terribly far from the original comics in terms of origin stories, even if things aren't happening in the order they began in.  

Either way, I look forward to seeing Spider-Man team up with the rest of the Avengers in a few years. 


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