Power Rangers Bootleg Explores Child Soldier PTSD

Produced by Adi Shankar and directed by Joseph Kahn, this 14 minute Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers bootleg explores the emotional damage that the young Rangers would suffer if the show had taken place in a more realistic setting. Shankar produced the 2012 Dredd reboot and this short feels like it takes place in a similar world. I kinda cringed when I heard that the Power Rangers reboot would be a grim and gritty remake, but after seeing this short, I kinda believe it’s possible to take this material seriously.

James Van Der Beek is the traitorous Rocky. When I was watching the show as a kid (who am I kidding, I was in high school) I felt kind of betrayed when Rocky took Jason’s place as the Red Ranger. It’s like Shankar knew that’s how some of us felt and has channeled that betrayal through the Dawson who turns in a truly venomous performance.

Katie Shackhoff as Kimberly gives the Pink Ranger a gravitas that she’s never really had. Kim was always the care free one throwing Peter Parker like quips in the heat of battle. Starbuck’s version of Kim has had all the joy stolen from her. You can see the pain in her eyes as she recalls her fallen comrades.

The call backs to the original series are subtle. When they hit, I could hear my fan brain saying “Aw yissss! Some shit’s about to go down!” The grimdark atmosphere might not be for everyone. But it hit all the right notes for me. And dammit, now I’m kinda looking forward to see what they can do with this reboot movie. Gaaaah!!!

Here’s Shankar explaining his motivations behind the project.