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Wednesday, June 23, 2021
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    ‘Mortal Kombat’: Flawed Victory

    Ben Nietzel
    Ben Nietzel works as the principal of Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School. He also enjoys coaching Muskie football and reviewing movies.

    Muscatine Living

    After winning 9 straight Mortal Kombat tournaments, Outer Realm is on the verge of being able to invade Earth Realm, and they will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals.

    Pro – Looking good

    “Mortal Kombat,” a movie based on a massive franchise of video games, is back with a reboot of its movie franchise. The first “Mortal Kombat” movie (1995) was impressive visually for its time. Since then, the digital effects in the industry have improved exponentially, and that’s all on display in this year’s “Mortal Kombat.” This movie is an absolute visual feast. It is a wonderful combination of big screen martial arts blended with digital enhancements to give the characters their signature moves. Anchored by Lewis Tan, Joe Taslim, and Hioyuki Sanada, the fighting sequences are fun, jaw-dropping, and plentiful. Everything looks, sounds, and feels amazing and seamless.

    Neutral – Insert a quarter?

    This is a reboot of a movie based on a video game franchise that came to notoriety in the early-90’s for it’s realistic and graphic depictions of fighting violence. “Realistic” looking fighters punched and kicked each other, which occasionally caused blood to pour forth. Even more egregious to watchdog groups was that if players knew the code and perfected their timing, the game allowed them to celebrate their win by triggering a gruesome fatality sequence against their helpless digital opponent. Since then, the game has added four armed monsters, cybernetic ninjas, and host of new and awful/funny ways to humiliate your fallen foe, all while making more and more realistic looking characters.

    If all that sounds familiar and fun, you will love “Mortal Kombat.” If that sounds terrible and childish, then you have nailed your future review of this film. “Mortal Kombat” is exactly what it says it is. Fanboys (and girls) of the series will no doubt enjoy the mindless but exciting romp. That said, there is nothing here for anyone not looking for exactly that. It is hard to imagine anyone watching this film and not leaving with the feelings they expected to have.

    Con – What story?

    This is a popcorn flick in the truest sense of the word. It’s the perfect movie to unplug and unwind with if you enjoy action for action’s sake. The movie does not try to be something it’s not, which his great. On the other hand, it would be a glaring oversight to not point that this is not a good story. People just show up to fight, with nary a back story for most of the characters we meet. The audience sees things happen, but why exactly they are happening or what the consequences might be remain unresolved. Anyone with no knowledge of the last 30 years of games and lore will be quite lost in what is going on and who is perpetrating it.


    “Mortal Kombat” knows what it is and what it’s fans want. It is fan service in the truest form, and fans of the franchise will have plenty to feast their eyes upon and cheer. Meanwhile, anyone wanting a little plot and subtly will find their hopes buzz sawed in half, which may or may not be a spoiler. Bicycle kick your way over the Fridley Palms Theater to check this film out if it sounds like a good time to you!

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