Joseph Kahn’s short experiment with franchising (as with his features) functions like guerrilla warfare. Power/Rangers dropped unexpectedly, and left those in its vicinity–primarily adults, curious about this latest take on something from their childhood–shocked and perplexed. Many seem to take it at face value, its grimdark tone and the often stilted attempts at “mature” dialogue (the F-bombs, James Van Der Beek’s insinuations Katee Sackhoff’s Pink Ranger is promiscuous, how an ethical question is posed about the Power Rangers as a concept but left to hang) all tonally consistent with similar, real-deal efforts like Christopher Nolan’s Batman or Michael Bay’s Transformers. Yet, little scripting/directorial choices tiptoe around the idea this is an Andy Kaufman-esque gag: the Black Ranger snorting coke and having threesomes; comic relief dimwits Bulk and Skull being junkies living in a trailer park; Green Ranger’s scowl and growl as he says “Who are you?”; the exaggerated blood spurts. Everything based on a juvenile sense of maturity. The impression I get is Kahn enjoying seeing how far he can go with a concept, while everyone else scratches their heads. Why else do a fan movie?
Meta-textual examinations aside, Power/Rangers is fun. Fights are blocked low and wide, absorbing the Rangers in their moment. The only times Kahn cuts away from the big picture is to emphasize gruesome kills (the Black Ranger seems especially fond of turning opponents’ weapons back on them, as when he stabs a gangster in the head with his own dagger). The rest of the film toys around with drifting camera motion and match cuts, surfaces touched by intrusive lighting and holographic displays, and a score composed of Sega Genesis beats. It begs the question of what we want and get out of adapting our nostalgia, then pushes those things to absurdity and revels.