The new Mortal Kombat digital series has done a pretty decent job of adapting the iconic video game. But then, anything would be an improvement over the last Mortal Kombat movie, which might be the stupidest thing in human history.
While the original Mortal Kombat movie is actually not a terrible movie - it's not high art, but it's a schlocky good time with a surprisingly decent sense of humor - Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is another beast entirely. One of the worst films ever made, it's aggressively stupid and nonsensical, and it even seems to take an active dislike towards more than one of its ostensible heroes. But don't take my word for it - I've got audiovisual proof.
I'd never accuse this movie of actually having a plot, but theoretically the villain is supposed to be the dude in the dollar store Lord Humongous outfit who may or may not have just been pooped out of the sky. After an entrance like that, it's really important that your villain makes a good impression...and instead we're treated to what sounds an awful lot like a twelve-year-old boy desperately trying to appear menacing, complete with a cheesy one-liner that isn't even really a one-liner. C'mon, Shao Kahn, have some fun with it! At least say that "humanity will rest...in pieces!"
Amazingly, this is pretty much the high water mark for Shao Kahn as a terrifying villain.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation has the dubious distinction of being so bad that even Linden Ashby said, "Nah, I'll pass." Who's Linden Ashby? Exactly. But with the original movie's Johnny Cage unavailable, it fell to the writers to come up with a fitting exit for the character...and they apparently took the opportunity to work through all their lingering resentment towards Ashby, as Johnny Cage gets quite possibly the most pointlessly humiliating death in movie history. It's a wonder they didn't actually make Cage piss his pants halfway through the scene.
But hey! At least they gratuitously threw in that shadow kick move. It's just like in the video game!
Most of the movie is an endless mix of fight scenes and intense glowering, but they do break the monotony at least once...by introducing some giant balls in which our heroes travel through the Earth. Just in case you're not sure what to make of an idea so, uh, unique, Liu Kang helpfully supplies you with the correct reaction. This is "amazing", apparently. And I don't even want to ponder the implications of Liu Kang being embraced by his would-be romantic interest Kitana while they're both standing in what is essentially a gigantic blue ball. Some things are best left unpondered.
In fairness, Shao Kahn may offer a sick benefits package, generous 401k, the works. But that doesn't change the fact that his employees are constantly at each other's throats - do I even need to point out that I mean that literally? - complete with some of the grossest sexual tension in movie history. And then, Shao Kanhn throws one of his workers into a pit of fire over...what, taking two people prisoner while otherwise subjugating thousands without mercy? Or is he seriously just irritated that Rain didn't make them beg for their lives to the proper extent? Either way, I'm sorry, even for a genocidal dictator, that simply is not effective leadership.
Also, who had Motaro the hellish demon centaur taking over for Johnny Cage as the movie's comic relief? Dude's hilarious.
This has to be considered one of cinema's most balanced and respectful portrayals of Native Americans, in that Nightwolf isn't just a magical shapeshifting shaman who only exists to show the hero his destiny...he's also kind of an asshole. Seriously, there have to be better ways of knocking a guy out than throwing a sharpened ax at him.
Apparently, the writers weren't just angry that the original Johnny Cage refused to come back - they also were none too happy that Bridgette Wilson had passed on the sequel. In this scene, poor Sandra Hess is forced to pay for the sins of the future Mrs. Pete Sampras, as Sonya is kicked in the head and stomach, gets her hair pulled, is roughly thrown onto some rocks, and is forced to roll around in the mud. Oh, and just for laughs, a gloriously crap CGI monster shows up at the end so that Jax can punch it with his metal arms. Why? Shut up, that's why.
If there's one thing I can take away from having watched this movie - other than the last lingering shreds of my sanity - it's that this movie just runs on people doing flips. Seriously, if someone needs to move anything more than five feet in any direction, chances are they're going to do some flips to get there. This fight scene is the apotheosis of that, as Raiden is forced to fight a dude whose only two moves are apparently flips and, when he wants to shake it up, backflips. And, in keeping with the movie's rich thematic subtext, Raiden is only able to defeat his opponent once he too starts doing some flips.
Here's the nicest thing I can say about this movie - some of the costumes do actually sorta look OK. I mean, Shao Kahn and a lot of his inner circle looks kinda stupid, but the ninja costumes generally translate decently enough to the screen, and the robot ninjas (technically ghost cyborg ninjas, but I refuse to admit that I know that) aren't bad at all. If Mortal Kombat has one thing going for it, it's that the visual design of quite a few of its characters can be translated to live action without looking utterly ridiculous.
And then there's the dude with the bad Halloween mask and swords coming out of his arms. So yeah, forget I said anything.
There is apparently a pit of fire located every ten feet or so in Shao Kahn's palace, always at the ready in case he needs to terminate someone unexpectedly. And, when he gets bored with throwing people into pits of fire...there's also a gigantic killer worm available for all his minion-killing needs. If all that isn't fostering a hostile work environment, I don't know what is. Also, I've got to think there's an OSHA violation in here somewhere.
Oh, and apparently Motaro the hellish demon centaur has bought a thesaurus since last we saw him. Good for him.
I said this movie is the singularity of stupid, and I'm pretty sure this scene is where we finally pass through the event horizon. Five points to anyone who can actually identify what animals these are supposed to be - seriously, is this supposed to be a gargoyle fighting a hydra? - but really, I don't think there's anything I can add to this. This scene speaks for itself...and that's pretty much the problem right there.