It’s been just over a month since Mortal Kombat (2021) was released. Traditionally, films based on computer games are terrible. This isn’t always the case, but certainly there’s more bad examples than good ones. SciFiPulse didn’t get around to reviewing it, but have seen it (Mortal Kombat’s Rotten Tomatoes Reviews do a great job of analysis). So, we’re here to tell you that for us, it was largely a decent film. With that in mind, let’s look at what went well, and how other game franchises might be successfully become good films.
This was an important factor. The game was so iconic for those who grew up playing it (and, still is!). A failure to tap into this would have been punishable by a suitably violent fatality . . . In fact, we saw more than one of those memorable (and ridiculously difficult to administer) moves. For example, the one involving Kung Lao (Max Huang) worked fantastically. Viewers experienced in live-action what they used to enjoy witnessing at the end of a round (those few who could actually manage to perform them!). Furthermore, there was a theatrically delivered declaration of “flawless victory”, too. The language was always a huge and vital part of the franchise.
Fun and Humour
Another crucial element. After all, this is the primary reason people loved the game. Often, film adaptations of games try to be too serious. Consequently, they fail to capture what attracted so many to the franchise in the first place. Getting the mix right isn’t easy, though. Fortunately, Mortal Kombat (2021) did manage to do so. There was never any doubt that the team behind the film have a clear love of the game. They managed to draw on the trademark, often dark, humour, and work it into key scenes, with some great timing.
The game was horrifically graphic. Especially as the franchise went on. But even the very first installment was dark. Certainly, Mortal Kombat set itself apart from other fighting games. Choosing to make the film for an older audience was definitely the right choice. Quite simply, Mortal Kombat just doesn’t work without serious bloodshed. Perhaps that’s partly why previous films haven’t done well. This time we saw some awesome sequences, that were true to the original game(s). That bring us to the next point of discussion . . .
Inventive Use of Source Material
These days games are much more detailed, in terms of storylines. It’s not unusual to get entire mythologies and larger universes grow out of video games, now. That wasn’t always the case. Mortal Kombat (2021) relied on the basics of the original story, but managed to expand some aspects. It did a great job, especially in relation to the origin of Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada), and the all important clash with Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim). Additionally, seeing Cole Young (Lewis Tan) came to adopt the persona of Johnny Cage was cool, too.
Given the implied power of Shang Tsung (Chin Han), it was good that the “big bad” wasn’t seen off. Furthermore, the fact that the powerful sorcerer’s role is to wage war, via his army, came through. There have been many sequels to the original Mortal Kombat game, in 1992. Should we get sequel films, then there’s no shortage of characters to use. So, fans of certain characters will perhaps get to see their favourite, in a live-action setting. They’ll likely face off against the original cast members from the first reboot of the film.