Mortal Kombat (2021)
The highly-anticipated reboot promises Mortal Kombat, yet delivers a weak attempt at fan service buried by a poorly-constructed script and limping to life with overworked, cheapened visual effects.
New addition Cole Young (Lewis Tan) searches for the best that Earth has to offer in order to defend the realm from Outworld forces seeking to eliminate the defenders of the world. The good news here is that the film breathes new life into the iconic characters of Sub-Zero and Scorpion, each scene pertaining to that subplot the hands-down best of the film; the fight between the two in the third act, largely seen in the marketing for Mortal Kombat, features incredible choreography. Sadly, much of their story takes a backseat to the assembling of Earth’s champions, led by Tan’s Young, who is the standout amongst the rest of the amateur performances.
Make no mistake, Mortal Kombat is an epic letdown beaten down by the forcing of mature dialogue that always feels out-of-place and an over-reliance on the much-publicized inclusion of fatalities (which are, to the credit of the filmmakers, quite fun). The reboot does what I never would have expected in that it makes 1996’s version, which didn’t take itself too seriously, look like a masterpiece.
The soundtrack is a solid complement to the action, which vacillates between boring and familiar, never quite elevating to what we were being sold. The visual effects are also hit-or-miss, sometimes presented in appealing, satisfying fashion and other times looking unfinished. It all takes away from what could have been the monumental start to a desirable franchise, which the final moments make clear is the intent.
Remember when Power Rangers was rebooted in 2017 and a lot was expected? (oh hey, Tommy!) We saw what happened with that and I would not be surprised if history repeated itself here. While Mortal Kombat successfully brings the games to life and will no doubt satisfy some fans, it fails to present any reason to want more.
Mortal Kombat hits theaters and HBO Max tomorrow.
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