‘Mortal Kombat’ Is The Best You Can Do With Little To Go On [Review]
Twenty four years after the release of the abysmal ‘Mortal Kombat: Annihilation’ the classic video game series returns to the big screen. This time, director Simon McQuoid and Warner Bros take a crack at of the popular fighting game. With an estimated budget of $95 million, ‘Mortal Kombat’ gives the series a much needed, modern polish of CGI and special effects.
‘Mortal Kombat’ struggles to find its feet when the characters are not punching
Unfortunately, much like other video game adaptations, ‘Mortal Kombat’ struggles to find its feet with story. Although the fight scenes are spectacular, you can feel the movie grind to a halt when there is no fighting.
‘Mortal Kombat’ introduces a brand new fighter named Cole Young who is meant to be the viewers entry point into this weird new world. Like the other fighters, Cole has a dragon birthmark (What does that mean? He was born with it) that sends him on the path to his destiny. Unfortunately, the film does a poor job of making a relatable character out of Cole. The movie gives viewers very few reasons to really care about him. Early on we get a few scenes with Cole and his family, but they fail to create any meaningful attachment. In fact, on first watch, we were unsure what the relationship was between several of the new characters.
Similarly, the adapted characters are not dealt a much better hand. Most characters get one or two big action scenes to showcase their style of fighting. Unfortunately, casting on these characters is a bit go a mixed bag. Sonya Blade, Jax and Kano all look like they are having fun and work with what they have. However, certain characters like Liu Kang and Lord Raiden are not given much else to do but chew scenery. The Outworld team doesn’t fair much better. Shang Tsung’s team of fighters are all one-dimensional cannon fodder essentially. With the exception of Sub-Zero, the villains seem to only exist to fight and be killed by the heroes.
Enough talking about the characters talking
Much like Playboy, no one is really watching this movie for the story. Where ‘Mortal Kombat’ shines is the action. There are a handful of larger action set pieces and on the whole each one is great. While the fight choreography isn’t the quality seen in films like John Wick or other Kung Fu movies, it is still really solid. The movie leans into its hard R rating and delivers a wide variety of bloody and visceral fatalities throughout its brisk 110 minute runtime. The only criticism that can be found are the sub-par surroundings during the fights. The video game franchise is known for its iconic fighting stages, while fights in this film generally occurs in warehouses, farms or dirt courtyards.
Overall, ‘Mortal Kombat’ delivers what it promises; brutally fantastic fights. Where this movie falls short is the same place every video game movie does and that is adding plot and story. The lack of compelling characters and the clear desire to set up future movies almost cheapens the mind-numbing action. Although, seeing Scorpion spear Sub-Zero and say his iconic catch phrase while the Mortal Kombat theme swells was pretty damn spectacular.