Story Details

Death Is Only Another Portal: Mortal Kombat (2021) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 1184 days ago on Entertainment -  Video games are notoriously hard to adapt to the screen. The type of story works in short bursts or as cut-scenes, or depending on how old the game is in a paragraph in an instruction manual, is hard to expand on. Conversely, story-heavy games often have 30-40 hours to use to flesh out characters and narrative and this has to be condensed onto a feature length film. Either way, filmmakers have their work cut out for them.Mortal Kombat is a franchise that started out as a campy and ultra-violent Western alternative to Japan's Street Fighter series, that over the course of eleven mainline games (and various spin-offs) has started to take itself comparatively more serious. For whatever reason, this newest adaptation for the most part ignores this evolution and plants the majority of the film's tone square in the goofy category. Mortal Kombat is infamous for its gory Fatalities, over-the-top finishing movies where combatants are dispatched in gruesome and inventive ways. That isn't the only thing that should be the focus of the story, at least if you want it to be interesting. The film starts off on a good foot, with a well directed sequence featuring some back story with Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) and Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada). After this, the viewpoint switches to the main protagonist Cole Young (Lewis Tan) a MMA fighter who bears a mysterious dragon birthmark on his chest. This mark designates him as a champion who represents the Earthrealm in a multidimensional fighting tournament. The evil fighters from Outworld have come to Earth to kill him and Cole must discover his inner power and protect Earth along with other champions.Unfortunately, Cole is devoid of any personality and only serves as an audience surrogate to have things explained to him (and us). I have played these games so I can fill in the unsaid plot elements, but if someone has no experience with them, the pacing and info dumps will be confusing. The movie itself seems like it's embarrassed of its own lore constantly undercutting important story elements with self-deprecating jokes or dated quips. I realize that many reading this will say to themselves "Well, what did she expect it's a Mortal Kombat movie" but the writing doesn't have to be bad just because it's based on a video game. The games themselves have lots of great storytelling there is no reason to be lazy and sell it short.  For many people the main draw will be the fights, and they too are bland and lifeless. The fight choreography is underwhelming with too many cuts and edits to establish a good flow. It's obvious they are just a means to get to the bloody fatalities, and while they are fun to see, it's not enough to keep it engaging. The costumes fare much better and some of the set design is creative and fans will spot a few familiar locales. There are a lot of Easter Eggs (my favorite of which is a snarky reference to sweep kick spamming) but references only go so far.Mortal Kombat feels like a lazy studio cash grab that throws in enough game references to satiate surface level fandom, but fails to capture the spirit of what has made it beloved for decades.--Michelle Kisner (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();

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