Note: sorry about the quality of the pictures. My recording equipment wasn’t working quite right.Robin Shou as Liu Kang
James Remar as Raiden
Talisa Soto as Kitana
Sandra Hess as Sonya Blade
Lynn Williams as Jax
Brian Thompson as Shao Kahn
Musetta Vander as Sindel
Reiner Schone as Shinnok
Deron McBee as Motaro
Irina Pantaeva as Jade
John Medlan as Ermac
Marjean Holden as Sheeva
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation has to be one of the most disappointing movies to me. Sure, I’ve seen a few — only a few — that are worse, but this one is a sequel to one of the 5% of movies based on video games that don’t suck. As a veteran gamer, I hoped that things were beginning to change, but then this unbelievable piece of shit came out.
One thing I can give this movie over other game adaptations is that outside of the incredibly stupid decision to make Earth thunder god Raiden and Outworld Emperor Shao Kahn brothers (I’m not kidding), this movie actually isn’t disloyal to the game. The writers clearly chose to base this movie on Mortal Kombat 3, in which our world has been merged with Outworld and taken over. The problem is how this story is executed.
For one thing, there are too many characters. That looks like a large cast up there, but the reality is that Johnny Cage, Scorpion, the younger Sub-Zero (don’t ask), Nightwolf, Baraka, what appear to be distant cousins of Reptile, Mileena, Smoke, Cyrax, Noob Saibot, and Rain are all in this movie for extremely brief periods before they are killed. And Sub-Zero and Nightwolf are actually presented as major characters before they just disappear without explanation and are never mentioned again. Additionally, Johnny Cage had been a very big character in the original. Here he dies in the opening minutes. Killing off a major character is one thing, but without any time to build up to it?
How do they fit all those characters into the movie? Easy. Almost no attention seems to be paid to plot, just action. For example, Indian shaman Nightwolf tells Liu Kang that to become ready to beat Shao Kahn, he must first pass three tests. Of these tests, one doesn’t happen and another involves someone who turns out to be a spy working for Kahn. A ninja named Rain is briefly the general of Kahn’s extermination squads, but is executed. For incompetence? No. We’re told that he actually has some hot kills to his credit. He’s executed because he didn’t waste time making those targets beg for mercy first. And of course, “blink and you’ll miss them” characters go crap-in-hand with bad plotting. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.
What does this movie do right? Well, the music score is a chore to listen to. If the song isn’t taken straight for the prequel, it’s an overbearing, faddy, song.
The acting? Some of the worst I’ve ever seen in my life. Only returning players Robin Shou and Talisa Soto turn in remotely passable performances. The rest are absolutely horrible. There are many athletes and models in the cast whose performances are either halfhearted or extremely over the top.
CGI is reasonably good for the 1990s. Then again, the centaur Motaro is an extremely awfully created monster. They absolutely have to use jump cuts and narrow the scope of the camera so that it’s not quite so obvious that Deron McBee is not wearing a costume. So the special effects could use work as well.
What happened? I think I can tell. Everything about this movie indicates an almost total lack of effort. Mortal Kombat was in a real down period by 1997 and it’s resurgence was still five years away. It seems that New Line thought that time that this movie could be profitable was over but had gone too far in production to back out.
Despite that, I saw Mortal Kombat: Annihilation in the theater. Despite all I’ve said about it, there was one truly enlightening moment: when Scorpion stared at those of us in attendance and yelled, “Suckers!”
Overall: 2 out of 10