For many, the phrase Mortal Kombat brings back childhood memories of the best fighting games ever made. Whether you have been playing since the first game hit the market in 1992 like I have, or you came into this franchise somewhere along the way, you probably have a certain amount of nostalgia related to this game and franchise. Mortal Kombat as a video game provides an excellent experience for all who play it. However, Mortal Kombat as a television and movie enterprise has left viewers disappointed in the past.
Does the 2021 cinematic version of Mortal Kombat deliver what past performances have not – a good viewing experience and entertainment worth the 1 hour and 50 minutes you will spend watching this movie? Yes. The Mortal Kombat franchise has finally released a movie that the fans will actually enjoy. Is it perfect? No, there is room for improvement, as one would expect. However, the good news is that the movie was good enough to set off a series of films, so they will have plenty of time to improve on some of the places that it fell a little short.
The one caveat I think is essential to understand is that the more you are into this franchise and fandom, the more you will enjoy the movie. Fans of Mortal Combat will think that this is an excellent movie with a few flaws. However, if you are just looking for the latest action-adventure, this movie may not provide what you are looking for. This was made for the fans first. I do not think the storyline and characters were well thought out enough to bring in people who have no experience with this franchise.
Let us take a deeper look at what the die-hard fans or the causal viewers may like or not like about this movie.
Mortal Kombat 2021 – Pro’s and Con’s
Pro’s = Good Story, Even if not Fully Fleshed Out:
I was pleasantly surprised to see that this Mortal Kombat movie actually had a good storyline. In past films and television shows for Mortal Kombat and other video games that became movies and television, the storyline never emerged.
Often, the creators rely on name recognition and the fandom to carry the product. Therefore, it is more challenging to create a product based on the franchise but still make a good movie. Mortal Kombat ticks this box. There is a storyline and good characters. However, it essential to note that there were areas of the story and character development that could have been fleshed out a little more.
A reasonable effort was made, but the writers and creators still relied on the people watching this film to understand the world and history. This is fine for the established fans, but it may not work if you are trying to bring in new people. However, this movie was good enough that we could get future installments into this world. If we do, hopefully, they will fix this issue in subsequent films.
Mortal Kombat 2021 – Action Packed
If you are going to watch a Mortal Kombat movie, you would expect there to be a lot of action. This movie delivers heavily on this theme. If you go into the movie understanding that the whole premise of the game is a tournament, you should expect this. This is why you are here – the action and the characters you know and love.
However, suppose you decided to see this movie without ever playing the games. In that case, the action sequences could feel a little over the top for you.
Personally, I think it falls squarely under the Pro column. If there was less action, it would not feel like Mortal Kombat. However, to a non-fan, the action sequences could feel like a ploy to cover up the lack of story and character development.
The movie does feature multiple fights, and the ends of these fights are appropriately full of blood and gore – as any fan of this franchise would expect. If you come into this movie not knowing anything about Mortal Kombat, this could turn you off. However, fans of the game would be expecting this, and the film delivered.
Props to the Costume and Set Designers:
One of the things this movie did really well was taking you to their world. The film starts out in 1617 Japan to explain some of the backstories to new viewers. Later parts of the movie include current day earth and the Outworld, and the temple of Lord Raiden.
All of these different locations are done really well. It is crucial for a movie that is not about everyday society to be able to create a world and immerse you in it., They did an excellent job with locations, costumes, and themes.
Aimed at Mortal Kombat fans:
Although a casual viewer can watch this movie and enjoy it, it is clearly aimed towards genuine fans who understand the world and all of its characters. Therefore, there are many Easter eggs put into this movie for the fans. Here are a few you might notice:
The special marking. Each of Earth’s champions is marked – either after defeating someone or in the star of the movie’s case, Cole was born with this marking as a birthmark. The marking is the same that was used as a logo for the original game.
There were several famous lines and phrases from the game. Some of the more in-your-face Easter eggs for the fans were favorite lines such as Scorpion saying “Get over here,” and Kung Lao tells Cole to “test his might” while training in the pit. Kung Lao says other famous phrases such as “Fight!” and “Flawless victory!.” At one point, early one in the movie, Kano says, “Kano Wins.”
Sub Zero’s iceball move. The initial fight between Jax and Sub-Zero features graffiti on the wall that shows ↓ → + LP. This is a huge Easter egg as that is the button combo in the game to have Sub-Zero throw an ice ball at your opponent to temporarily freeze them.
When Sonya is trying to convince Cole of the significance of his birthmark, she shows him all of her research, including a poster of the tournament, which is called Mortal Kombat. He is unimpressed and retorts, “They spelled it wrong.” This is a shoutout to the original game because the creators originally wanted to spell it correctly but ultimately decided against it as the phrase mortal combat is too common. They would not be able to trademark it.
Finally, the movie’s last scene shows Cole walking by a poster for Johnny Cage right after saying he is going to LA to find someone. This is likely a nod to who you can expect to see in the next Mortal Kombat movie.
Not Critically Acclaimed:
If you want to see a critically acclaimed action movie, this is not the one for you. There is a vast difference between how everyday moviegoers responded to this versus critics. Most of the critics did not like it at all. They hammered this movie as another film based on a video game without any actual substance. However, most fans disagreed. Although there are some fans, who were unhappy with the film, most enjoyed it.
The storyline is better, and it is evident that it is their best try at bringing Mortal Kombat to the big screen. To be fair, they had to do a relatively good job here to make many sequels. If the fans did not enjoy it, there would be less of a market for future movies except for the hardcore fans.
The biggest issue in this movie, especially for long-term fans from this franchise, is that there was no tournament. The film’s plot did explain why no tournament was happening, but it still stings to watch a movie based on a game that is solely about the tournament.
However, since this is the first installment, fans should assume that future movies will include a tournament that will only want them to see the newer movies more.
Characters / Backstories Seemed a Little Rushed:
This is one of those areas where it really depended upon how much you knew about Mortal Kombat going into this film. If you are a fan, you do not need a ton of backstory on most of the characters. However, there is not much on Cole, the new character. Also, people who are new to the story or who have only casually played the game a few times may need more background to understand what was happening in the movie and why.
However, this could get moviegoers interested in the game enough to pick it up and learn more for themselves from a marketing aspect.
It would Be Difficult To Understand if you Never Played Mortal Kombat:
This is similar to the lack of backstory. However, this is not just not understanding the backstory or a character or the character’s motivations but why this is happening at all. Why is this other world and Earth in a constant fight? Why are they evil, whereas the fighters from Earth are good and righteous? Why do they want Earth so bad – why is the goal to win (or in this case circumvent) the tenth tournament with the prize of now controlling Earth? A little more explanation would have made the movie easier to follow for the non-fan.
After reading they laid out the pros and cons of this movie, you can see that the pros definitely outranked the cons in both number and significance. Even the cons of this movie were smaller items – the storyline was good, and we knew who the characters were. This was just a point that could be improved upon in future installments. It certainly does not ruin the overall experience.
If I was a non-fan, I would still give it at least a 6 or 7. It is an action movie with lots of blood and gore, has multiple settings, and has a defined storyline. As a fan, I would give it an 8.5. This was by far the best Mortal Kombat movie and, honestly, more than I was expecting considering past failures. The plotline was effortlessly followed. In addition, there were a ton of Easter Eggs to remind me of my original gaming experience.
They also did a great job bringing the characters to life. Finally, they set themselves up for sequels in an unforced and natural way. This fight was won, but there is still much to do.
Whether you are a fan of the franchise or not, I would recommend this movie. It is certainly worth the 1 hour and 50 minutes you will spend watching it.
Top 10 article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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