You know, movies share a lot of similarities with video games. Pretty visuals. Imaginative worlds. The lack of originality and an over-reliance on rebooting financially successful properties to play on people’s nostalgia in order to drain their wallets dry. Especially that last part! The Mortal Kombat video games were rebooted back in 2011, and after that game made a lot of money, someone in Hollywood said, “Let’s do that, too!” And so, here we are again, watching pretty visuals form an imaginative world that’s devoid of originality.
I’m just going to go ahead and say this: the opening to this movie is freaking amazing! No joke! I was so hooked after the prologue…and then I was quickly reminded that I’m watching a video game movie. The story is merely an excuse to introduce a full fighting game roster of characters to us and get plenty of fights in. If you're looking for something with emotional depth or some glimmer of a life lesson, look elsewhere. This is Mortal freaking Kombat. There is fighting. There is yelling. There is blood. Moral of the story? Punch your way out of your problems. Oh, and love is important too or something like that. To be fair though, as far as video game-based stories go, this isn't the worst one. It certainly establishes the world and its nonsense in a comprehensible fashion. As someone who hasn't played any of the games outside of the original arcade machines, I followed along just fine, but I definitely had to tell myself to turn off my brain and enjoy the carnage before me.
Speaking of, the whole point of Mortal Kombat is to pit two expert fighters and have them beat the brains out of each other--literally! So how are the fights? Honestly, outside of the first and last fight, I wasn't too impressed. Don't get me wrong, though. There were definitely some cool and absolutely brutal moves thrown around, but I felt like I needed a better view. In some of my favorite martial arts movies, you can see the intricacies and masterful movements done by the actors, and it can be mesmerizing watching them block, counter, and evade each other. That certainly happens here but, unfortunately, not enough. Most of the time, the fights are so claustrophobic that the camera angles can't showcase the talent in the choreography. There were a lot of over-the-shoulder shots and close-ups that hid a lot of the technique in the moves. A punch isn't merely a punch in martial arts. It's an extension of so many moving parts, and you can't admire the bodywork if the camera is hiding behind a shoulder. The fights could have been showcased better, but I think the filmmakers can do better next time, now that they've had some practice in the making of this movie.
As for the punches and kickers, everyone did a good job…with the script they were given. I never thought anyone did a bad job acting, but I can see some people being turned off by some of it. It's like the games themselves–over-the-top, edgy, and cheesy. I found it appropriate for the tone of the movie. Everyone basically is so serious that it comes off campy, which resulted in more or less a fun experience. They even keep their faces straight when saying catch phrases while being broody. Basically, the actors are fun to watch, despite the dialogue being absolutely ridiculous at times, if you don't mind being reminded of Saturday morning heroes fighting obnoxious villains that laugh as they make their getaway.
As far as video game movies go, Mortal Kombat can safely say that it's not the worst one. In fact, my wife, who knows even less about Mortal Kombat than I do, watched it with me (as payback for having me watch every Tinker Bell movie), and to my surprise, she had a decent time with it. I don't think she'll ever watch it again, but she didn't hate her time watching it. It's not a flawless victory, but it won the fight that it set out to win. Just by a smidgen.
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