I wanted to like the latest Mortal Kombat film. It was one of the few movies that I was genuinely looking forward to seeing in a long time. The last three Mortal Kombat games have been fantastic in their storytelling, content, and gameplay mechanics. No fighting game out there has put together a better complete package than what the modern Mortal Kombat titles have done. Which is why the latest movie was such a disappointment.
Compared to the Mortal Kombat films in the 1990s, the production and special effects were much better. Some of the fighting sequences were as well. But the acting was very unconvincing and I kept feeling like none of the actors truly embodied the characters they were supposed to be portraying. Liu Kang, Shang Tsung, and Raiden were nowhere near being portrayed as the iconic and strong characters they were supposed to be. Characters such as Mileena were miscast. Johnny Cage was nothing more than just a tease at the end of the film. As a longtime Mortal Kombat fan, it was frustrating to watch.
My gripes with the film are in no way indicative of the talent level of these actors overall. It’s important to point that out because a bad film doesn’t mean that a person is to be characterized as a bad actor, director, or producer. What I’m getting at is that this film just was not good and was not even close to the high standard that the Mortal Kombat games had set for the brand.
To this day, I am floored by how brilliant the Mortal Kombat reboot in 2011 was. The game’s story mode featured top-notch writing and is the best I’ve ever seen in a fighting game. Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat 11 also contained excellent narratives, but I know I’m partial to the reboot’s focus on the classic characters that I’ve known since the 1990s. The storytelling style also afforded the player the chance to see the narrative from multiple perspectives as you used different characters throughout the story mode. This continued into the two sequels as well, which is one of the main reasons why the story modes were so well received.
Mortal Kombat 9’s story could have just been copied and used in the live-action movie to produce a much better final product than we ended up with. Raiden would have appeared more powerful and better conveyed his care for humanity. Liu Kang would be presented as a stronger and more formidable fighter. Shang Tsung would have been much more menacing and conniving.
I can not in good conscience recommend the latest Mortal Kombat film to gamers who are fans of the video game series. Simply stick with the video games. They have a much better story, better representation of all the characters, and you get to play it. The movies just keep struggling to get it right.