GET OVER HERE: Movies Based On Video Games Are A Mixed Bag: Will The New MORTAL KOMBAT Movie Slated For 2021 Be Any Good?
Movies based on video games are a mixed bag, and that's to put the matter kindly. We can count the number of great films based on video games on one hand. We'd need both hands, both feet, and some additional limbs borrowed from our friends to count the number of bad movies based on video games. 'Street Fighter' might take the title for being the absolute worst, but there is a whole host of them out there - and the 1990s 'Mortal Kombat' movie is one of them. It might, therefore, surprise you to hear that a new big-budget 'Mortal Kombat' movie is being made, and if all goes to plan, it should be with us in 2021.
While movie fans might be surprised by the news of a new film based on the game 25 years after the first one, video game enthusiasts won't be. 'Mortal Kombat' is still a big deal on video game consoles. The eleventh incarnation of the fighting franchise has been released within the past twelve months and attracted almost universal praise from critics. Go to an online slots website, and you'll find that there are casino games there based on 'Mortal Kombat,' too. In fact, there's also an online slots game based on 'Street Fighter II.' We weren't aware that people who grew up playing classic fighting games on their consoles automatically gravitated towards playing slot games in adult life, but it seems like they must do.
What makes this the right time to go back to ‘Mortal Kombat’ and make a new film is unknown, but fans have been anxious to see someone do justice to the characters and the story of the fighting tournament since the 1995 original. The hokey child-friendly film didn’t go down well with audiences at the time, and when people have gone back to it to reappraise it in more recent years, words like ‘awkward’ and ‘dated’ have been among the kinder adjectives used to describe it. It’s fair to say that the existence of that film will be completely ignored by the new production. If you’ve spent the past three decades praying that someone will follow up on that movie with a sequel featuring the same cast (and no, we’re not counting ‘Mortal Kombat: Annihilation’ because the majority of the roles were recast and it went straight to video), you can put that dream to bed forever now.
If the new film is to be a bigger success than the previous one, then it's going to have to stick closer to the things that 'Mortal Kombat' is known for. If you ask the general public what they know about 'Mortal Kombat,' those who know anything about it at all will tell you that it's known for violence. The game distinguished itself from the 'Street Fighter' series and the other major fighting games of its era via its gratuitous use of violence, including the introduction of 'Fatalities.' Seeing video game characters die in endlessly gory fashions is part and parcel of many new releases now. Back in the early 1990s, when the very first 'Mortal Kombat' game was released, it was almost unheard of. To replicate that experience on the big screen, the film has to be Rated R. The 1995 movie wasn't. Fortunately, we've already been able to confirm that this one will be. That isn’t much, but it’s a promising start.
In what we'll take as another step in the right direction, the film is going to have some serious martial arts talent among the cast - something else that was missing in the 1990s. Christopher Lambert might have been in that cast, but his performance was so phoned-in that he may as well have faxed it, and he has no martial arts acumen whatsoever that we're aware of. That can't be said about Joe Taslim, who's been cast as Sub-Zero. The icy ninja is one of the most iconic characters in the video game series, and so should be a major role. Taslim, who has represented the Indonesian national Judo team and blew people's minds with his fight-scene performances in the 2011 version of 'The Raid,' fits the bill perfectly.
It would have been great if the studio had been able to bring in another genuine combat star in the shape of Ronda Rousey, but sadly that hasn't happened. Rousey provided the voice of Sonya Blade in the most recent 'Mortal Kombat' game and has some acting experience from her time in WWE, but either wasn't approached or was considered too expensive for the role. Instead, the part has gone to Jessica McNamee, best known for 'The Meg.' Unlike Taslim, she doesn't appear to have any significant fighting experience on her resume. That's not the be-all and end-all; this is what stunt doubles are for after all, but it would have been nice to see a star of Rousey's caliber get involved. It would have almost guaranteed more publicity for the film. Without any star power among its cast or production crew, it might struggle on that front.
As well as starring a range of new faces (aside from Joe Taslim and Ludi Lin as Liu Kang), the feature also has a first-time director attached to it. Simon McQuoid is in the big chair, and this is his debut. That could either go very well or very badly. Hopefully, the more experienced supporting pair of James Wan and Todd Garner as producers will help him along with the task. The screenplay has been handled by Greg Russo and Dave Callaham. There's a lot of young, hungry talent involved in the making of the movie on paper, but a worrying lack of experience. We think we'd have been inclined to address that balance before giving the project the green light, but then it's not our money, it's New Line Cinema's and Warner Bros.
It's too late to ask whether the cast will gel together, and the team will work as intended - the movie has already been shot. The whole film was committed to film between September and December 2019 on location in South Australia, and the movie is now in post-production. As things stand, it will be released to movie theaters across the world on January 15th, 2021. It looks to stand a better chance of being viewed as a success than the 1995 movie did, but there's still a high risk that the only 'fatality' when the credits roll will be the popularity of the franchise. We must wait and see!