Note: The following article contains spoilers!
When I first heard they were making another Mortal Kombat movie, I was a bit nervous. I had only heard horrible things (and I mean horrible) about the second Mortal Kombat movie (Annihilation) released in 1997 and did not know there was a 1995 Mortal Kombat movie till about five minutes ago while writing this. Needless to say, both films did not get much attention or were infamously bad. Having seen the trailer and getting maybe a little too bit hyped up about the film, found out it was playing in an actual movie theater in Norwalk. I grabbed my friend (who knew the game MK (Mortal Kombat) and the characters, which was great), a bag of movie popcorn, a Coca-Cola ICEE, and sat down to watch the film. Same process as usual, folks: Spoilers in bold!
Mortal Kombat follows Cole, a former boxer who is playing matches for $200 a pop. When he is approached by a man who has the same dragon marking as he does, Cole's life turns upside down and is pulled into a life he never imagined possible. While watching, I had no idea who Cole was. He isn't in the games and has never been referenced in them, but in the movie (much to my surprise) he fits very well. Usually, when movies throw in a new character outside of the source material, it flops, but this one didn't, so good job Mortal Kombat! However, the plot is simple, but honestly a little... eh? I understood what was happening, but that was about it. They weren't trying anything new in this film, but due to the two 90s films, it is understandable due to producers not wanting another flop. I would say my least favorite part was the final battle. Not the fighting itself, no no, that was actually very enjoyable. The part I am referring to is when Hanzo (Scorpion) comes back from Hell to fight Sub-Zero. I was sitting in my seat thinking, "uh WHAT, I thought Cole was going to be Scorpion" (That is still a possibility due to the film setting up for a sequel). I thought that it was a bit forced, and honestly, I found it kinda ridiculous. But hey, at least the fight was good.
While on his quest, Cole meets new allies: Jax, Sonya, Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and Raiden, who all have some sort of special ability (Granted, Jax and Sonya don't get their powers till later on, but I digress). This group also meets new enemies: Kano, Kabal (who is a PAIN to play against in the games), Nitara, Reiko, Shang Tsung, the crowd favorite Mileena, and the big bad, Sub-Zero. As you can see, there are a LOT of characters in this film, which is to the film's advantage and disadvantage. We don't get to grow with the characters or feel their pain when something bad happens, but we do get to cheer when they get some cool powers or they do something fighting-wise that is true to the game. We don't see too much character development, but I think that's okay for a film like this. What I feel 'professional' critics are failing to understand is that this format is just like the games: You jump from one character to the next, see them fight someone one or two times, and then move on to the next character. That is the point of MK. It is literally a fighting game who's story is to go along with the fighting. I think that the film did a good job of introducing the characters, their motives, and giving them a good amount of battle screen time, although we don't see Sonya or Jax use their new powers much, which was a little disappointing. (I wish Mileena got to wreak some havoc like she does in-game, but that's what sequels are for!). The character that stands out the most is Kano, the comic relief. He is hilarious and makes serious moments a little lighter, which is good to have in any movie.
The special effects for this movie are great. Every single scene with Sub-Zero is, from a technical standpoint, marvelous. Can you freeze someone's blood and stab them with it? I don't know, but it looks cool! Some backdrops are CGIed in, which was a little noticeable, but only were shown for maybe a minute total through the overall movie. Some characters' effects were passable, while others were great. Raiden's eyes did look a little silly, with the glowing white and all, but you get used to it. When Mileena is fighting Cole, and her mouth begins to split open to reveal sharp fangs, I thought that it looked awesome although it was only on screen for a short amount of screen time. Liu Kang's fire powers looked very similar, y'know, actual fire, and were very cool to look at. This may sound ludicrous, but I would dare say keep an eye out for this film in terms of visual effects next Oscar season (Just saying).
The fighting in this film was well done, and very true to the games. Characters often used the same moves that they do in-game (like Liu Kang's rapid-fire kicks) and there were some CRAZY fatalities that my friend and I lost it over. This movie is NOT FOR CHILDREN. Don't believe me? Okay then. Here is a list of some of the things that happen: A man gets his arms frozen off very graphically, a woman gets photon blasted through the gut and you can see her spine through the gaping hole, someone gets buzz-sawed in half...Do I need to go on? The graphic violence is what makes Mortal Kombat Mortal Kombat, however, and the movie stuck the landing perfectly on that aspect. They even threw in the line "GET OVER HERE!!!", which pays homage to the game.
Video game movies have a track record of crashing and burning due to their poor plots, boring characters, or not remembering what the movies' source material is (a video game). Movies like Assassin's Creed, Silent Hill, Warcraft, even the Mario Bros, are all very infamous due to the things listed above. But when movies like Sonic and Detective Pikachu come out, it shows that a video game movie can succeed if they embrace their lineage, rather than trying to re-write their source. I am pleased to write that Mortal Kombat, to the surprise of many, has joined among the ranks of video game movies that embrace their lineage. Is Mortal Kombat a perfect movie? No, but it knows what it wants to be, and succeeds at it. I am even going to create a new ranking just for this movie: The video-game movie ranking.
Overall, this movie is a fun ride to watch with friends and is even more fun if you know the game Mortal Kombat well. I hope to see future installments of this series, and cannot wait to see who they cast for the new heroes and villains. If the franchise is setting up what I think it's setting up, we're about to get Caged. VIDEO-GAME-MOVIE REVIEW: 7.25/10 - REGULAR RATING: 6.5/10