It dawned on me earlier this week that in the space of a little over 3 months I had written nearly 50 movie reviews. If I keep this pace up I could do 200 in a year. Is that good going? How many does Ebert do in a year? Does Google want to pay me to do this? All are questions that I’d like to be answered with the word “yes”. Even the second one. Anyway, I figured I should pick out a film that means something to me. A film that managed to kill dead my interest in a whole franchise for a number of years. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Citizen Kane of movies referred to ironically as the Citizen Kane of videogame based movies… Mortal Kombat Annihilation.
So the first film I reviewed on here was Mortal Kombat. I still kind of enjoy that film even if it isn’t a particularly good film. Despite all it’s story, character and pacing flaws it still manages to be a piece of fun entertainment. Mortal Kombat Annihilation is not at all like that. There is not a single aspect of this film that I could even on my most generous day say was good. Or even competent. Within the first 3 seconds you’ll know you’re in a bad place when the title logo comes up and it’s the exact same one from the first film. They start the movie with a recycled effect. Then they give you a quick recap of the last film with a load of cropped and zoomed shots to avoid showing the 2 people smart enough to not allow their name to be signed to this shit. Bridgette Wilson and Linden Ashby both both decided to not be a part of this as did Christopher Lambert. Now Lambert has never been one to be picky about his roles and I doubt Wilson and Ashby are either so it makes you wonder just how bad this looked from the start that they decided to drop out. In their place we have Chris Conrad as Johnny Cage for about 30 seconds (SPOILERS He get’s killed like a bitch in the first scene) and Sandra Hess and Sonya. To add to that the usually really quite good James Remar (Dexter’s daddy!) picks up the role of Raiden.
So here’s the story… see if you can follow this. Somehow Shao Kahn is merging Earth with Outworld after he invades Earth in the first scene. Apparently this takes 6 days. Why, I have no idea. Raiden says in the opening scenes that in order to stop this Kitana must make up with her recently resurrected mother Sindel. Later, when consulting the Elder gods, Raiden is told that in order to stop this Kitana must make up with her recently resurrected mother Sindel. They split up… for some reason… Kitana gets kidnapped by Scorpion, remember when he blew up in the first film? The writers of this don’t. Scorpion is never seen or heard from again. Liu Kang is told to go seek out Nightwolf, who as cliche dictates, will find Liu because Liu is incapable of finding him. Liu is told he must succeed in three tests in order to be strong enough to defeat Shao Kahn and prevent the realms from merging… Which I thought was what Kitana was needed for. He completes a task, Jade turns up and is apparently the second task (SPOILERS She’s a bad guy so I guess she wasn’t) and the third task is forgotten about entirely. Sonya goes looking for Jaxx…. I’m honestly lost now.
This isn’t a plot. This is stuff. Things and stuff. Just a series of poorly thought out and continuously contradictory events that appear to play out in only the loosest sense of proper order. Why does Raiden know what will stop the merging of the realms but then consults the Elder Gods to be told that same info? What’s the purpose of Liu’s three tests when he only passes one of them? … maybe two, the second is unclear really. I’m just gonna go ahead and warn you that this review contains a ton of spoilers because I’m really gonna have to delve into this boggy mire of crap in order to accurately describe just how shite this film is.
So here’s a scene I can’t make sense of. Sonya goes to some building that Jaxx is apparently in. Well he’s there bolted down to a table with new robotic rubber arms that increase his strength by four times. This building is deserted. So let’s think about this. He’s had these arms put on by scientists who aren’t there. He’s bolted onto a table. Who was it that either A) Bolted him to the table? or B) Why was he left there? Sonya can’t free him because, well LOL computers. They do the fail or something. So Jaxx breaks free with his new super arms, which makes you question why you’d bolt him down in the first place. Then ninjas turn up and a dude in yellow motorcross gear decides to join the fight. Jaxx can break steel and punch through walls with his new arms. He can’t break through the very plastic looking armor of Cyrax though.
So here’s a scene I can’t make sense of…. hang on… Another scene I can’t make sense of. Liu Kang and Kitana are in some underground caves apparently on their way to meet Nightwolf. They use these big ball things to transport themselves around a load of secret underground tunnels that can get them anywhere on Earth. Why they stop in not only some random cave but a cave infested with ninjas and a dude in motorcross gear… oh, Cyrax is actually the second of these guys to show up, Smoke is the first. So they, I guess fight, it looks more like a bunch of people making shapes whilst the editor cuts around them, and suddenly Sub Zero shows up to freeze Smoke. This is Sub Zero’s brother though so it’s all good. This is when Scorpion shows up, fights Sub Zero and kidnaps Kitana. This whole scene happens because the ball things that are meant to take them to where they want to go drop them off in some random cave that Shao Kahn happened to leave a bunch of ninjas in. This is the formula for the rest of the film.
Every single scene involves this progression. Characters walk into some place that’s oddly deserted. Ninjas and some dude in cosplay shows up. People flail their arms and legs around to techno music. The scene ends. Tell a lie, there’s at least 3 scenes in the film where this doesn’t happen. A scene where Shao Kahn’s Daddy gets all angry at him for not killing Raiden. A scene where Shao Kahn gets all angry and kills Rain for not killing Stryker and Kabal (Who are only mentioned but never seen). And finally a scene where Raiden consults the Elder Gods as mentioned before. This last scene raises some questions by the end of the film. Basically (As I said SPOILERS) Kahn’s daddy is one of the Elder Gods. In this scene, whilst in the form of some terrible CGI, he tells Raiden the thing about Kitana and Sindel and stuff. Now why didn’t the other Elder Gods go “Hang on mate, that aint true”. Cos it’s not. The thing Raiden said would save the day, and the thing Kahn’s daddy in disguise said would save the day actually would not. Surely the other Elder Gods would know this and figure out that Kahn’s daddy is setting Raiden up for a trap.
Raiden decides to become Billy Idol and which makes him mortal so he can go to Outworld with the other Kombatants. This leads to him fighting a bunch of Reptiles. Well his stunt double does anyway. The whole scene is shot in a wide shot and it’s quite clearly Ray Park jumping around and not anyone remotely similar looking to James Remar. Hell, Park is like a foot shorter. Oh and Raiden gets killed.
Rewind back a little and Liu Kang has met up with Nightwolf who seems to be portrayed as some sort of surfer dick. Liu needs to learn his animality. Nightwolf can turn into a real wolf. Liu turns into an atrocious CGI dragon man thing. Shao Kahn can apparently do this too and in the final battle of the film we are treated to a CGI dragon man fighting some King Ghidorah looking thing in some of the most robotically animated CGI since the Power Ranger movie. At least in that it was a meant to move like a robot. There’s another CGI creature that crops up at times that appears to be some sort of skinless demon and it’s equally bad looking. Jaxx punches it in the arse and it disappears down a hole. Like I said earlier, this film is just a series of things and stuff.
In one scene Sonya has a mud fight with Mileena. If you think that the producers were just throwing every Mortal Kombat character they could into this you’d be right. Some aren’t even mentioned by name. Anyway, they get all covered in mud and Sonya says she needs to find a river after the fight. She not only finds a river but apparently some soap, shampoo and detergent as the next time we see her she is spotless. Even her white top it whiter than white again. It’s kind of odd that this is one of the smallest suspensions of disbelief required of the viewer by this film.
Special effects are universally terrible. Not a single one is effective. Sheeva’s arms clip through parts of her body. Actors shot against green screen are surrounded by the thickest Chroma Key distortion I’ve ever seen. Especially in the opening scenes. Every set looks like a set. Not a single one looks like a believable location. The first film used a lot of beaches and naturally existing locations which balanced out it’s slightly fake looking sets. But at least those sets were dressed well. These sets just look like they were made with someone’s home crafting kit. They’re then lit by someone who’s only method of adjusting the colour tone is to hold pieces of primary coloured plastic over the lights. Costumes look plain ridiculous. The first film made an attempt to make the costumes look a little more real compared to how they look in the game. These look like they were rented from Midway. It is pure cosplay on a level far outreaching that of the Tekken film.
The “Director”, John R Leonetti, has only ever helmed 2 feature films. This and The Butterfly Effect 2. He’s actually been cinematographer on a number of decent films, generally ones that require a more comic book aesthetic, such as The Mask and this years genuinely excellent Piranha 3D. He also worked on Insidious. I put down his absolute failure here to not being experienced as a director at all and seemingly not knowing a thing about story. I think he has been wise to stay away from the directors chair. It would be unfair to blame him for the films failings. It appears the producers wanted more special effects than the budget could allow and more characters than the story could withstand.
Overall this is easily one of the most piss poor films I have ever seen. I’ll try to say at least one positive thing about the film before I end this review though. … … … The credits appear to be spelled correctly. There is not a single element of this travesty that is done to anything near an acceptable level. I’m amazed I got through the whole film. But somehow I did. It wasn’t as painful as a certain other film. See there’s one film out there that to this day… ever since late June 1997 I have been unable to watch all the way through again, there was one day where I saw this film on VHS but I managed to keep sneaking out. What is this film? I can’t say. But more so than Mortal Kombat Annihilation it is the most horrible, terrible and painful cinematic experience ever made for a large budget by Hollywood. One day I may subject myself to it again for the sake of the site. For now I’ll just leave it at this, the second worst film made for a large budget by Hollywood: Mortal Kombat Annihilation.
Also, Battlefield Earth isn’t the other film because that was independently financed by Scientology and (probably) Nazi gold.