This time last year I never would’ve dreamed that I’d be so excited to sit down and watch a movie based on the Mortal Kombat video games. But these are strange times we live in and as it turns out Mortal Kombat was quite an enjoyable experience.
As the name implies, Mortal Kombat is based on the iconic video game series of the same name and sees Earthrealm under threat from Outworld. After losing 9 Mortal Kombat tournaments, if Earthrealm loses once more, they’ll belong to Outworld forever. Quite the high stakes wouldn’t you say? While the film does try to explain the ramifications of everything, I couldn’t help wondering more than once if my understanding of the movie would have been greatly enhanced if I’d played more of the games (my exposure is currently limited to Mortal Kombat X).
That’s not to say that you can’t follow the movie if you haven’t played the games at all. The film does a pretty good job in explaining who is who and why they’re important. It’s just that some of the bigger aspects could have used a bit more exposition, like why Outworld wants to rule Earthrealm so badly. Or why, and this was my biggest issue with the film, a certain character is able to engage Sub-Zero in the fight that dominates the trailers promoting the movie. Don’t get me wrong, that fight (you all know the one I’m talking about) is beautifully shot and is a lot of fun to watch, but I legitimately do not understand how it was able to happen. There’s the loosest explanation given, but it wasn’t quite enough to satisfy me. Sometimes it’s best to include that extra five minutes of exposition, even if it does risk slowing the plot down a little, and part of me wishes Mortal Kombat had done that.
Aside from those issues, Mortal Kombat really is a lot of fun to watch. My favorite part has to be the sequence that emulates the video game (you can’t miss it), right down to the different combat arenas and fatality sequences. While it is a little cheesy how they would duplicate the game’s performance (one character even proclaims “Flawless Victory”), you can tell it’s all done in good fun. I mean, if you’re going to adapt a video game to film, an homage like this is probably the best way to go. A word of warning though about those fatalities: they really are as gory as you’ve been led to believe. So if that bothers you….you’ve been warned.
Of all the characters in the film, my two favorites are definitely Lewis Tan as Cole Young and Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade (with an honorable mention to Joe Taslim as Sub-Zero). Watching these two get thrown into the world of Mortal Kombat was a lot of fun, and I feel like Tan perfectly played Cole Young as someone who is initially disbelieving but quick to buy in once he realizes his family is at risk. Part of me was disappointed the film didn’t include Kitana (my favorite Mortal Kombat character) but there IS an Easter Egg reference to her if you look closely. I also have to briefly mention Taslim’s performance as Sub-Zero which is one of the best in the film. The only real complaint I have is that I feel like we don’t know enough about him, his motivations and why he is what he is.
The music, which I’ve already reviewed, is just as amazing with the film as it is without it. I stand by my previous thought that in terms of music, the Mortal Kombat soundtrack is one of the best that’s come out this year. Especially during the fights in the latter half of the film, the music sucks you into the drama and adds that extra layer of detail that makes the film fun to watch.
One last note: the film ends with a blatant tease for a sequel and despite the many flaws I would be more than happy to see a sequel happen. There’s so much more they could do with the Mortal Kombat story and I’d like to see the filmmakers given an opportunity to keep the story going. This has the potential to be a really fun popcorn film franchise, so I’ll be waiting eagerly to see if a sequel gets greenlit.
While deeply flawed with some aspects of its storytelling, Mortal Kombat is a really enjoyable experience that does its best to faithfully bring the story of Mortal Kombat to the big screen. There are more than enough Easter Eggs and references to satisfy any fans of the video games and the teased sequel left me begging for more. My final verdict: Go see Mortal Kombat, it’s worth it.
Let me know what you think about Mortal Kombat in the comments below and have a great day!
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