NEW MORTAL KOMBAT MOVIE: ‘GOOD’ OR REALLY, REALLY BAD?
-New Mortal Kombat movie adaptation receives mixed reviews in online media.
-Our FCKN Reviewer has ‘mixed’ feelings about the film.
It ain’t “woke”, that’s for sure!
The release of the latest film adaptation of the popular 1990’s fighting title ‘Mortal Kombat’ has propelled a cavalcade of reactions, of both the positive and negative kinds: While more traditional movie critics panned it for the poor execution in the acting, tone and direction, the vox populi has expressed a kinder view, stressing aspects mostly to do with “faithfulness” as applied to the representations of its famous characters, their ‘superpowers’ – now referred to as “arcanas” -, their motivations, among other more fan-oriente pet peeves.
Rotten Tomatoes is showing a split score, of a depressing 55% Tomatometer by certified movie critics, and a whopping 87% FRESH score by the average fans/critics.
The movie is both good and bad. Sure, it isn’t a Cannes Film Festival-worthy film by any account, but it does succeed in making use of some long forgotten tricks in movie-making to entice an audience and make them want for a sequel, and then again… Isn’t that what all movie studios desire nowadays? – A ‘franchise’ of their own, like ‘The Avengers’ or the ‘Harry Potter’ series. We bet they do!
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New Mortal Kombat film: Good or Bad?
For starters, the new Mortal Kombat movie is a fairly short film, with only about a little more than 1 hour and 40 minutes of running time, so giving it a couple of hours of your time to check it out shouldn’t represent much of a waste. – Is not like we’re telling you to watch the Twilight movies… God forbid!
There’s plenty of fan service applied all around, and that alone will suffice to put a smiley face on the die-hard, detailed-obsessed fans, so you will see Sonya shooting sonic waves from her wrists, and Sub-Zero freezing everything he touches, Scorpion has his hook’n-chain, and so on.
The setting is different though: Those of you who were teenegers back in the days of the original Mortal Kombat movie (as are we), might remember that it made use of very similar plot lines to classic martial arts movies such as Bruce Lee’s ‘Enter the Dragon’, and his unended project ‘Game of Death, from 1972, in which several fighters are forced to compete in a deadly fighting tournament. The MK adaptation from 1995 had thus a very simple plot: Five fighters board a mysterious ship in Hong Kong and depart for a secret island, where a special tournament is about to take place, the same that – as we later come to find out – will come to define the fate of the whole of mankind. – Quite the premise!
Now, the new Mortal Kombat movie goes about the same story arc, though a tad differently: There’s still a magical tournament in place, set in order to define an old domination quarrel between the realms of ‘Earth’ and the “Outworld”, but the backstories of the main characters are slightly different from the original. Yes, there’s the classic ‘Kano hates Sonya’ thing, and the brotherly relationship between Liu Kang and Kung Lao (portrayed to visual perfection by Ludi Lin and Max Huang), but other more established character arcs were given a tiny makeover, as was the case with the classic Scorpion/Sub-Zero rivalry. There’s still family drama, there’s still Scorpion coming back from hell to claim his vengeance, and there’s the unmissable “Come Over Here!” line used at a very apropos moment (which we TOTALLY loved), but if you know the backstory as well as we do, you’ll definitely notice a couple of tweaks made to that plot. We’ll let you figure that one out 😉
The next point leads us to the most relevant part of our review: What the f*ck happened to Johnny Cage?
At first sight, it looked as if the New Line Cinema movie producers had decided to cut out the annoying Hollywood starlet-type, Mr Johnny Cage entirely, for a more “inclusive” Asian-looking guy (maybe pandering to China, maybe?), but it seems to us now, that **HUGE SPOILER ALERT**, the reason behind Johnny Cage’s absence is none other than that they wanted to use him for the sequel. Sadly, this only became evident to us at the end of the film, where the sight of a boxing poster featuring Cage’s name hinted at the possibility of the next film finally featuring the movie star in its cast.
Cage’s replacement, Cole Young, is not part of the established MK canon and lore, which results in a bit of confusion during the very poorly-directed first minutes of the film, but according to films creators, Young’s presence served the purpose of introducing newer audiences to a film that would otherwise appeal to die-hards only, and we think they succeeded at that too: Cole is a likeable fella, has a nice family, is a caring, nice guy and has the ‘best for the world’ in his intentions, or so it seems. His particular arc is satisfying, though a little bland, and it works just fine as the one story to help wrap around the others…. Though, upon second thought, there isn’t much of “secondary stories” to talk of.
The special effects are pretty OK (though I personally still prefer the original real-costume Goro deal, as opposed to the CGI monstrosity of today’s version), and they worked particularly well with the character’s fighting superpowers. We finally got to see a decent fire dragon emerging from Liu Kang to gulp up his opponent, and Kung Lao’s super-sharp hat did away beautifully with that annoying vampiress villain thing, though the poor girl’s only line in the movie was a screeching squeal. – She should probably seek a different movie agent… just a thought.
In terms of gore, MK also satisfied: Body parts cut here and there, some dismemberments, hearts being ripped apart from the cages, and other typical Mortal Kombat fatality must-dos. Two Thumbs Up!
What SUCKED about the movie?
Alright… The acting was indeed terrible, especially so during the first half of the film, and we can’t hardly think of other movies with similar histrionic handicaps (probably the Resident Evil movies… but that one deserves a WHOLE article of its own).
The directing was also a bit off, then again, mostly during the first half of the film. It sometimes felt as if the director had actually shot the movie in perfect sequential order, and he only managed to get a “good grasp” of his directing as he went along with the project. By the time the movie finishes, it feels more cohesive and grounded; the first 30-45 minutes – in comparison – feel disjointed, vacuous, unfulfilling. Just wrong.
The soundscore? We hardly even noticed it, though at times, we could hardly hear the speeches next to the loudness of the thematic music in the background.
And almost by the time we’d completely forgotten about it, they decided to squeeze in the classic Mortal Kombat theme – though with some new dubstep alterations – for a fine final fan-finishing move.
You can’t watch Mortal Kombat without taking a MASSIVE grain of salt: it’s campy, terribly acted and couldn’t be more ludicrous in its plot aspects, but it managed to impress us due to the complete lack of any apparent “woke” features, which seem so prevalent in most of the entertainment media of our day.
The only chauvinist archetype we could really find in the film was Kano, but then again… he had been a total douchebag since his birth back in 1992, and the movie makes sure that you notice that aspect very quickly. Besides that, the interactions between the genders, the diversity of skin tonalities, and all other “concerning” aspects of woke culture, don’t really become an issue at any point, and is just as easy to see Sonya fight a guy, as it is to see her try her fists with a lady, and same goes for the guys.
Btw, this new Sonya kicks some SERIOUS ass.
Our positive Thumbs-Up go to the new Mortal Kombat movie for giving a rats’ a** about woke conventions. Takes balls to confront the tide of political correctness.
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