Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge | Written Review

Mortal Kombat is easily my favorite nerdy franchise. I vividly remember pumping quarters into the arcade machine in 1992 and each subsequent iteration thereafter. I have purchased the Kollector's Edition of each version of the game since the switch to home consoles, whenever possible. And was almost a staff writer for one of the (at the time) top Mortal Kombat fan sites around the time that Armageddon was released. I say all this not only to illustrate that I am a HUGE fan, and this review might be a little overly flowery, but also to illustrate my deep knowledge of the franchise.

When it comes to the non-video game portion of the franchise, my knowledge is quite high as well, though admittedly not quite as encyclopedic beyond the 2 theatrical releases. Luckily for me, this movie doesn't require any of my previous knowledge to be enjoyed. Matter of fact some of the gaming mythology knowledge I do have is a hindrance to the enjoyment of this movie, but more on that later.

Looking at this movie as a stand alone piece of art. It is a great addition to any Anime collector's pile of movies. The art is solid, though by-and-large not super unique, and the voice acting is better through and through than the original live-action movie. Better than a fair chunk of live-action video game adaptations, and on par with the top of the pile in the WB Animated collection.

As an adaptation of a preexisting piece of intellectual property, this is where the chinks in the armor (however few there may be) start to show. While every non-video game adaptation up to this point has decidedly made it's own mythology, that only occasionally mimics that of the original, this version goes to great lengths to tell the current established mythology as accurately as possible. Though, there are some artistic licenses that the writer, Jeremy Adams, and director, Ethan Spaulding, took that seem to indicate they were trying to pay more homage to the original live-action movie than was probably deserved. The lack of special moves by any of the human characters from Earthrealm is a glaring omission. While there are some flares with the character of Liu Kang during some of the fight scenes, that seem to imply the special moves from the games, they only serve as reminders that the ACTUAL special moves are totally missing. That being said, it was a fantastic addition to the movie, and to the art, to see a version of the new signature moves, the "X-Ray" moves, make many appearances in the movie.

Now let's get a little nitpicky... also VERY Spoiler-y...
While the story was almost exactly what it should have been, there were some fairly major deviations that change the weight and effectiveness of some of the characters, and honestly will have some major influence if they plan on continuing this animated series.

First, Goro is not totally infallible. He can be defeated by technically any one of the original 7 characters in the first game (and honestly any of the established characters from any game). So, having Liu Kang not be able to defeat him not only makes Goro seem more powerful than he actually is, but also undermines the importance of Liu in other stories down the line. Also, having Scorpion be the one to actually defeats him adds a confusing piece to the already convoluted tournament element, that really just didn't need to be there (and wasn't in any other version of this part of the MK story).

Then we have the issue of Jax's arms. There are a couple issues with this. First, this had been retconned from it's original version (a voluntary "upgrade" between MK2 and MK3) to the new timeline version (Ermac ripping them off in MK9). So why did we need it to happen in yet ANOTHER new way? Also, doing that this early takes away a fair amount of character development that we get with Jax, and his confidence issues, as well as his relationship with Sonya.

Honestly, there are more, but these are the major issues.

In the end though this movie is as highly enjoyable as it is bloody. And it is VERY bloody. While not one for the whole family (technically neither are the games) it is one to be enjoyed multiple times to catch all the little things in the background, and just to enjoy the ride in general.


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