FATALITY! Sorry, couldn’t help it.
I am truly loving Warner’s 2021 plan for simultaneous theatrical and HBOMax release! This weekend I, like many others, had the pleasure of watching the new Mortal Kombat. Was it a flawless victory or a brutality? I really need to stop, sorry again.
Here we go! The good and the bad.
Used its Time: It doesn’t need to be explained that the film is based on one of the most iconic video games of all time. We all know the theme song and, even if we’re not avid players of the game, we can recognize figures like Raiden, Sub-zero, and Scorpion. Aside from them, there is a giant roster of characters from the ever-expanding thirty-year game universe. How does one bring these characters with their own backstories and abilities from a simple fighting game into a film? Well, I think they did it pretty well!
All of the characters from the original 1992 game (except Johnny Cage), along with some others from future installments, make their appearance in the movie. Not only that but a good chunk of them manage to have arcs within the film as well. In total I believe there were fifteen characters in this 1hr45m movie!
Yes, many of those fifteen were reduced to very small roles, but for the characters that the story decided to focus on, especially the heroes, were balanced very well.
Great Set Up: I say I hate it when movies, especially first installments, make more of a point to set up a franchise than to just tell it’s individual tale. I don’t think Mortal Kombat fell into that trap. Yes, it left many pieces for the anticipation of another installment, but it never lost focus that it was meant to be a movie telling the story about the tenth tournament to save the world. What pieces the film did lay out for the future it sold well. I want to see more of these people. I want to see what other threats those from Outworld will unleash on Earthrealm. If you’re a player of the games, like myself, you’re probably curious to see the characters that the movie teased! I hope the movie succeeds at the standard that the studio has set up for it so we can get more installments.
Decent Action: Thinking about the 1995 version it ocurred to me that there was literally no blood in that movie. Yes, there was fighting, but for a franchise famous for ripping hearts out of chests and cutting off heads to create blood fountains, that thing played it very safe.
The 2021 version gives fans some GREAT fatality scenes. That being said, considering the games once more, I think they could have had a little more fun and creativity with deaths in the movie. However, I digress. We laughed out loud and celebrated the gore where it appeare and it was fantastic.
Faithful: Despite the budget on this project (more on that in a bit) the creators behind this really cared about what they were making. They didn’t want to be Mortal Kombat in name alone, but rather make something that was faithful to its source material. The conflict between Scorpion and Sub-zero, the tournament, the role of Shang Tsung, the rivalry between Sonya and Kano (really appreciated the approach to this in particular) the friendship between Jax and Sonya, the brotherhood between Kung Lao and Liu Kang, etc.
I would even say there was a subtle nod to the relationship between Liu Kang and Kitana. No, she’s not in this movie, but Mileena is. For those unaware, Mileena is supposed to be the evil clone twin sister of Princess Kitana of Outworld. In other words, Kitana, wherever she may be in this cinematic universe, looks exactly like Mileena minus the demonic teeth. The movie had this moment during the electric force field scene where both characters had a moment of eye contact. Simple! But it felt like a wink to the players of the games in the audience let them know they’re aware of the story.
I appreciated that the movie really did the best job it could to honor the canon of these characters.
Fun: Overall, this is just a really fun movie. It’s not an Oscar winner and it’s not the MCU. It’s just a really good time to get something great to eat and enjoy on the couch.
Fifty Million? I Believe It: I cannot believe that the budget allocated to this movie was just 50m. That is ABSURD. The budget for one episode of The Mandolorian is 30m!
Despite this being the tournament to decide the fate of Earth, it all did feel rather small. Even for the climax when the team splits up to face off against the villains, I found it odd that the sets were just repeated such as Sonya’s home. The bridge where Jax had his fight felt very lowkey, we spend a great chunk of the movie at Raiden’s temple, and everything feels just slightly not epic.
Now, at the end of the day, despite the quality feeling rather cheap at times, this might be a benefit for the film. Despite the crappy wallet it still managed to be great. During the age of Covid, it is also a benefit because it will certainly make back its budget at the Box Office.
Now, with a potential hit on deck for Warner, what does a sequel to this 50 million film look like with an appropriate franchise budget?
I cannot wait.
Mortal Kombat earns four out of five potatoes!