Uppercuts and Fireballs: "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation" Review
When will game developers and Hollywood finally realize that no one
plays Mortal Kombat because they like the story? No one. We aren't
playing these fighting games because we care about Johnny Cage's life
as an actor or Sub-Zero and Scorpion's sibling rivalry. Despite this
being fairly obvious, the MK franchise continues, to this day, to
spread its wings into the realms of film, animation, and live-action
television. It can take a leap into The Pit for all I care.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation may be one of the most faithful videogame
adaptations in history, proving once again that games involving two
people fighting (just fighting) make for awful movies. Short of me
plugging quarters away at the arcade until a much more skilled high
schooler challenges me, destroys me, and wrestles the machine from my
grasp, the film nails my experience with the Sega-era franchise.
That's not a good thing.
For starters, this Robert Altman-sized cast of characters (most
prominently featured in the game Mortal Kombat 3) is not only hastily
assembled, it drifts through the film without any focus or
development. Sure Liu Kang (Robin Shou, Death Race) is technically the
star here—Shou is also one of the few returning cast members from the
first film—but most of his time is spent away from everyone else, on a
Luke Skywalker-esque journey of self discovery or something. He's got
to release that "animality," as Nightwolf (Litefoot, The Indian in the
Cupboard) tells him. Just you wait; when he does the mid-90s CGI will
melt your brain.
The rest of the fighters (Jax, Sonya Blade, Kitana, etc) just go off
on their little adventure, spitting catch phrases and doing
superfluous flips. It's all at the direction of that
lightning-shooting demigod, Rayden (played with zen-like cheese by
James Remar, Dexter), who is perfectly content explaining away the
questions of his friends—and subsequently the audience. Why is
everyone fighting? Because the Outworld is merging with Earth. I
thought we stopped that last movie? Nope. You thought you did, but
then the film made too much money, so you didn't.
Annihilation tanked at the box office because it's only generally
appealing to fans. The kind that finds phrases like "Finish him!" and
"Feel your Animality!" totally believable in the realm of
videogameland. That stuff works in the arcade, but doesn't make for a
compelling (or even ironically enjoyable) movie. The plot isn't long
enough to summarize, the characters are half-dimensional, and the
camera work is a confusing mess. Really, this movie, with its nonstop
acrobatic fight scenes and Jock Jams soundtrack, is a lot like an
episode of Power Rangers, except occasionally someone melts.
FINISH the rest of the review at DVD Verdict!
Mike Rubino is a Pittsburgh-area writer, improviser, and actor. He is
also a writer and performer in the locally-produced radio adventure
serial Dodge Intrepid and the Pages of Time.
Dodge Intrepid and the Pages of Time Radio Play
Friday, May 6th at 8:00pm
Steel City Improv Theater, 808 Tripoli St, North Side
$5, All Ages