Joseph Kahn directed two profoundly underrated motion pictures: Torque and Detention. Both films play with tone and intent in ways that confused many audiences; Torque in particular seems to have flown over the heads of too many people (It's not a serious movie, guys). Khan has continued that aggressive fucking with your expectations in a fan film - a 'bootleg' from the guy who produced the dismal Punisher short, Dirty Laundry - called Power/Rangers, which takes everything awful about modern fanfilms and dials it up to 11. It's a hyper-violent, mythology-heavy take on an empty children's show, exactly the sort of thing that pops boners in the cargo shorts of manchildren who can't let go of being 9. And it's worked - the response to this deadest pan satire has been rapturous. "This is what the Power Rangers movie should be!" is the refrain of 30something guys who are still attached to the visual equivalent of poisoned cotton candy.
And I'm not just reading into this. Kahn gave an interview to HitFix where he spelled it out:
It's funny… I've seen repurposed stuff on the Internet where they take a property that's serious and make it even more so, like a Batman fan film or something like that, or a video game or whatever. I've actually seen stuff like where they've taken ridiculous stuff like Mario Brothers and then tried to make the dark and gritty version, and they obviously play it for laughs.
I think the trick that I really wanted to do with this was to make that dark and gritty version that everybody keeps talking about, but really do it. Really see if I could totally accomplish it with essentially a really incredible incredibly silly property.
In many ways that's the ultimate form of satire - take a bad idea and just run with it. Show what is so ridiculous in the idea by just doing the idea. It's brilliant.
Kahn is no fan of fan films, either:
Two of the worst types of filmmaking out there that are not credible to filmmakers… one is porn and the other is fan films.
It was that lack of credibility that made Power/Rangers fun for Kahn. Looking at Torque and Detention it's easy to see that this is a guy who likes taking garbage and doing something truly unique and unexpected with it, which is what I think makes him one of the most interesting filmmakers out there. Which is also why he only makes movies every half decade and nobody really gets them. It's a bummer - Kahn isn't just a great visual stylist, he thinks hard about what his films mean and say. I think you could spend hours dissecting the themes of Detention.
Even the casting of this is like a joke - Katee Sackhoff is the most over-fancast person on the internet, so getting her is a coup. And then taking Dawson himself, James Van Der Beek, and making him the scarred-up bad guy speaks to the continual need to 'grit up' silly shit from the past.
I don't know a damn thing about Power Rangers, so I don't know if there are in-jokes or whatever in the film (Kahn didn't know a thing about them either, by the way. I think that was part of the appeal for him), but I'm sure there are lots of easter eggs for the fans. In the meantime I'm just going to enjoy people eating this up and saying it's what they want from their children's property adaptations, secure in my knowledge that the culture is fucked.
The embed above is the SFW version. Kahn had an R-rated cut, but Vimeo yanked it. I imagine it will appear again.