Monday, November 16, 2015

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation - 1997

It should be evident from the first 5 minutes of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation that it is an extremely second rate sequel. I know what you're thinking....but Grindhouse Review, Mortal Kombat (the first one) was an already second rate (third rate even??) action movie!  And it has a second rate sequel?  Dear god.  Dear god is correct, my movie watching public, and if you've seen even part of this movie, you know exactly what I mean.

I'm gonna use the term "classic" here loosely when I say Mortal Kombat 1 is a an action classic.  A video game movie that was made in the early 90's, right at the peak of the video game's popularity, and right when the first video game movies were being made.  We'll refer to this as the "8 bit age" of video game movies.  They were still being made for kids too, or with them in mind, so even with a bloody video game like Mortal Kombat, this had to be a very mild PG-13 so that kids could persuade their parents to take them, or go see it themselves if they were old enough.  Side note: I worked at a movie theater, but it wasn't like a kid-movie showing one.  I have no idea how you'd check to see if a kid was over 13 or not.  Especially if you're working at a theater when you are young, so you're not like familiar enough to know or estimate....  What are you supposed to do?  They don't have ID!  All kids look hella young to me.  Are you just supposed to guess?  I never encountered a situation where kids would come in without their parents, so I have to assume that in theaters all over the place, tons of 11, 12, even 10 years old's could have probably snuck into movies like this.  I wish I had.

Okay, back on track.  Mortal Kombat, silly as it is, is one of the only video game movies that really looks, feels, and sounds like the game.  It uses the exact characters, allegiances, languages, finishing moves, etc.  They did a great job showing exactly what the game was like.  I think if I'd never played the game, I'd well know what to expect from the movie.  The only major discrepancy would probably be the lack of a "life bar" in the upper corner of the screen, not mashing the controller life fuck, and doing the same move like 8 times in a row cause it's the only one you knew how to do.

The second rate sequel qualities are all over the place in this.  First of all, in the first 5 minutes, we see that out of a cast of 7 major characters, 2 of the actors returned.  NICE.  It's really apparent too, they should have just got a whole new cast at that point and kind of done something like a warped dimension thing, to explain what happened.  Don't just assume we won't notice!  The actors in both movies are pretty second rate, with a few exceptions, and this movie got the bulk of the bad actors.  Also, this movie features even more of that glorious mid 90's CGI that you just gotta love!

This movie feels to me like the kind of thing you'd see as a kid, say when you're 14, and you'd think it was okay.  Then, later on in life you'd show it to someone else, remembering it as a pretty decent movie, and the whole movie you'd sit there, totally embarrassed, praying the movie would just end.  It's the definition of 90's trash, and it has the silly look and feel of every movie you might know from that era which was stupid, weird, bizarre, cartoonish, cheap, badly made, full of cliches...oh man, it's just glorious.

At first I really, really felt like turning it off and not even watching it.  But then I reached the plateau, the chi, if you will.  Accept it for what it is.  It's the 90's and this movie is chock full of it.  Dial your brain down to "dumbest" level, sit back with bong in hand, and feel like some early teenage kid again as you watch ridiculous dudes in costumes say outlandish things to one another.  This movie feels like every weird memory I have from childhood.  Especially those memories of movies.  I saw Mortal Kombat 1 when I was a kid, I think I was like my early teens, like 13 perhaps.  Mind you, this was in 1999 since I was a 86 baby.  So the movie was already 4 years old.  But dude, I fucking loved it.  The games had been an establishment since 1992, I had been playing them at least 5 years on and off (I didn't have any gaming consoles, so just at friends houses sometimes) and this movie defined video game movies for me.  

I bet you that Super Mario Bros has the same kind of fans - the people that saw it when the video game was new(ish) and they were young, and they absolutely loved it.  I didn't see the movie until I was like 17, and at that age I just laughed at it.  Around that age I was convinced I had really immaculate, profound taste in movies and I would never "lower" myself to view movies like Super Mario Bros.  The thing I really like about Mario and Mortal Kombat is the entire world they create.  It's not the same as animated movies, because animated you expect it.  It's part of the package deal.  But those old movies, where the sets are real and not green screen, where they actually built all these weird ass looking set pieces and then filled it with fire and smoke and bricks and dust and all....and then the characters would appear.  If you were a gamer you'd know them, but if you weren't (or like me, just a part time gamer) in my opinion it was better.  It created a mystery:  who the fuck is that guy?  I remember being amazed when I saw Goro for the first time in MK1, and when I saw Cyrax and Motaro in Annihilation. 

It seems to me that modern movies are too grounded in realism.  That or they dumb it down, they child it up by adding bright colors and soft edges to everything.  I dunno.  I really liked the dark, weird, budgeted movies from the 90's a lot more than any of the shit that's coming out now.

I liked this, I would give MK1 like 4 stars, this gets a star lower for being less entertaining, less story and more crummy effect, but damn, it does wrap you up in it's world, and if you're in the mood, this movie is great.  3 stars.

To think this fucker was what we got as replacement for Goro.  What a joke.


A quick word about my ratings here. When I give a movie like this 3 stars, I am not saying it's better than a movie that got 2.5. Case in point: this versus The House on Sorority Row. The two movies are not comparable. I think one of the reason critics get busted and given a hard time is that people compare just the rating without looking at what it's being compared TO. That is equally or more important than the rating. This movie can't be compared to Sorority Row, they aren't the same era, genre, style, etc. This is only in comparison to other lame action flicks, and more importantly, those of the same era. When it domes down to it, the rating is only within the realm of a particular movie. The ratings cannot ever be compared. But if you do compare them, it's not like you would ever compare this to like, Full Metal Jacket (most random movie I could think of). 80's war movie versus late nineties action that is based on a video game?! This should only really be compared to the first Mortal Kombat film, and maybe like, Street Fighter. 
 
The point is, don't ever assume that when one movie gets rated higher than another, that the higher rated movie is better in the traditional "this movie versus that movie" way. That is by no means what I mean when I rate these movies.

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