Devin's Sober Review: Mortal Kombat
If I was ever going to make a Mount Rushmore of video games, I have no choice but to put Mortal Kombat on there. As a franchise, it gave us action, it gave us adventure, it gave us an incredibly deep fiction with interesting lore and characters. It was also solely responsible for the ESRB bringing in the "M for Mature" rating, due to the violence and gore.
Mortal Kombat is fucking sick.
Its one of my favorite gaming franchises in history, and its one of the most popular fighting games of all time. It became so successful that it eventually made the jump to other forms of media. It got action figures (awesome), it got a cartoon (amazing), and it even got two live action films (cinematic abortions). I'm sorry, but in preparation for this I re-watched the original movies, and holy FUCK those things sucked.
Which leads us to this movie. I was absolutely fine with never seeing another live action movie based on this franchise ever again, then the trailer dropped, and I was immediately sucked in. I was, however, apprehensive about the whole thing, because we've been burned before with these movies and I didn't want to get let down again. Now that I've seen it, I can safely say...its pretty damn good.
Lets start with what I liked about it!
Right off the bat, I gotta say that the action in this thing is amazing. It hits that perfect balance of realistic martial arts, and over the top stupid martial arts. At times, it truly felt like I was watching a cutscene from one of the games. Everything from Liu Kang shooting fireballs, to Scorpion with his spear. It all felt like it was supposed to, it felt like Mortal Kombat, which made me happy.
Another thing I enjoyed was the level of violence they went for. Boy howdy, when this movie decides to be violent, it is VIOLENT! I actually yelped multiple times during this flick, especially when it came to the fatalities. They did not shy away from being as gory as possible, and I'm so glad. They absolutely nailed it!
And the cast? I fucking loved the cast! Are you kidding me? A few outliers notwithstanding, everyone they casted for their respective roles was top notch! Josh Lawson (Kano), was easily the best casting in the movie, and is the source of most of the movies comedy. While Joe Taslim (Sub-Zero), was a menacing and chilling force of nature. They both embodied the characters the best out of everyone, and deserve praise.
Also everyone in this movie was hot as fuck.
Not everything in the movie is all Babalities and Friendships, however. There is a lot of things I did not like, or simply downright hated. For example, while I really enjoyed the cast, the story that surrounds them is dumb as shit. From what I understand, this is a pseudo-prequel to the actual tournament the franchise is based on, but holy crap we didn't see ANY of it. A tournament movie without the tournament? Pal, c'mon.
And while I really dug the casting, it was the characters the movie chose to use that bummed me out. Nitara? Reiko? No Johnny Cage? Get the fuck out of here! They even replaced Liu Kang as the lead with a brand new character named Cole Young. Like...what the hell? Also, they found a way to make Shang Tsung AND Reptile look incompetent as hell. Shang Tsung, fine. Reptile? How dare you do my boy dirty like this!
Now the direction and the dialogue? Both get a yikes from me. While Kano's dialogue is fantastic, everything that comes out of Cole Young's mouth is so wooden, so bland. The script clearly needed a second set of eyes, or even a full re-write. As for the directing? I know that its Simon McQuoid's first feature, but man, its the most basic camera work I've seen in a while.
Honestly, at the end of the movie, I'm not sure how I wanted to feel. The nostalgic kid in me loved it for its action and its stellar character work, but the full grown adult in me was just let down by its narrative inconsistency and god awful character selection. Its a good enough action flick that I really hope gets a second installment, but it definitely needs more fine tuning. Maybe I needed to see it on the big screen to fully appreciate it, but after watching it, I can say that I'm glad I saved my money and watched it at home.