FlixChatter Review – MORTAL KOMBAT (2021)

mortalkombat-poster

As a teenager back in the 1990s, I was a fan of the video game Mortal Kombat. It was the most popular game in the early 90s, then a film version came out in the summer of 1995 and it was a big success. So much so that the studio fast-tracked a sequel that would come out two years later. Unfortunately, the sequel was so bad and failed at the box office that it killed the film franchise. Now, almost 30 years later a new reboot of the franchise is hitting the big and small screens.

The story kicks off in 17th century Japan, Hanso/Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada) is living a quiet life with wife and children. Suddenly, assassins show up and kill his men and family. The man who’s in charge of the attack is Bi-Han/Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim). A brutal fight between Hanso and Bi-Han ensued and unfortunately Hanso was not able to defeat Bi-Han. It’s unclear why Hanso and his family were attacked, the filmmakers somehow assumed that people already know their back stories. That’s one of the many mistakes they made for this reboot.

mortalkombat-hiroyuki

Fast forward to present day and we’re introduced to a has been fighter named Cole Young (Lewis Tan), he’s in an underground fight and got his butt whooped. While getting dinner with his wife and daughter at a restaurant after the fight, Sub-Zero suddenly showed up and started attacking them. Then Jax (Mehcad Brooks) came to their rescue, he instructed Cole to find Sonya (Jessica McNamee) who has the answer as to why suddenly his family’s life is in danger. Once Cole tracked down Sonya, she informed him that he’s one of the chosen fighters to defend earth from the evil lord named Shang Tsung (Chin Han) who lives in an Outworld and wants to rule our world. Sonya tells Cole that they have to find a hidden temple that house the world’s best fighters that can defend our world from the evil fighters from the Outworld. Cole agreed because he wants to save his family from danger. There’s not much else when it comes to the plot, the rest of the movie is full of bloody fights and special effects.

The screenplay is credited to Greg Russo and Dave Callahan, it’s a not bad script but not good either. By making the story more “grounded” and serious, it just took the fun out of it for me. The original 1995 film wasn’t great but at least it knows that it’s silly world they’ve created and just had fun with it. Here they tried to go all Nolan’s Dark Knight route and just didn’t work for me. Also, I thought there’s way too much fan service. I don’t mind if the filmmakers decided to include things from the source material, but this is a different medium and I expected something better from the creatives that are involved in making a film version. First time director Simon McQuoid moved things along by including brutal and bloody fights that fans of the video game will be happy to see. But narratively, he didn’t do a good job here. The movie also suffered from some very sloppy editing.

There’s not much to say when it comes to the performances. Some were cringeworthy and many were just wooden performances by the actors. The lead hero Cole is one of the weakest heroes I’ve seen in an action film. I don’t think it’s Lewis Tan’s fault since the character was so poorly written. The only stand out performance is Josh Lawson’s Kano, he’ basically the comic relief in an otherwise grim story.

Despite the shortcomings of this reboot, I still enjoyed it and of course the movie ended with tease of more sequels. Many fans of this video game are mostly in their 30s and 40s now, so I think some will enjoy it while many of us who expected more will likely be disappointed with this version. Me personally, I prefer the 1995 film version because it didn’t take itself too seriously and I had a lot of fun with it. I still think that original version is the “best” film based on video game.

TedS_post


So have you seen MORTAL KOMBAT? Well, what did you think?

Weekend Roundup: Cabin in the Woods + Fast & Furious 6

I ended up venturing out of my comfort zone a couple of times this Memorial Weekend. Thankfully neither one is disappointing. On Friday night, we were debating between three movies, as you can see in my tweet below.

Well, it came down to Cabin in the Woods as I’ve been curious about it for a while and the fact that Joss Whedon’s produced and wrote it sounds like it’s worth seeing. This is not so much of a review, but more of my reaction and overall thoughts of the movies. Here goes:

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2011)

CabinInTheWoodsPoster

Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

Now, I don’t watch barely any horror movies, but even so, the storyline seems pretty cliché. But from the trailer and even the poster, I had an inkling that there’s more than meets the eye here and sure enough it was. I think a lot of people have seen this movie by now as it was quite a hit a couple of years ago, but I’m still going to give a warning in case some haven’t seen it.

[SPOILER ALERT – keep reading at your own risk!]

Right from the start, you could pretty much guess just what is this cabin about. You see people in some kind of scientific facility, going into a control room with a bunch of TV monitors and what do you see no them? The cabin of course! Boy, that realization immediately made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and the goblins haven’t even showed up yet!

Trust me, even the scariest cabin you’ve been on, even those that’s supposedly haunted or whatever, is nowhere near as terrifying as this one. And that is because the whole thing has been rigged. Before you know it, one by one starts getting attacked, though at first I was under the impression that this whole thing is some kind of game, like a much sicker and deadly version of SURVIVOR where each had to do something drastic [kill each other] to survive or something.

CabinInTheWoods_Stills

Well, I’ll tell you that my reaction to the film kind of fluctuates as it progresses. Sure there are truly scary parts here, albeit some are run-of-the-mill horror stuff where people gather in a spooky basement even if they know they shouldn’t be there, reading and touching stuff they know better not to. But somehow, I kept thinking that the whole thing is human-controlled, which made it somehow less scary to me, and made me ten times more curious just WHO is behind this stuff.

The acting is not much to write home about, apart from the amusing roles of Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as the two main controllers. I haven’t seen them playing such jerks, ahah, but they’re quite convincing. Mr. Thor Chris Hemsworth is the only one I know from the rest of the cast, but there’s nothing extraordinary about the five college kids.

As far as the plot goes, I have to admit it’s pretty creative. So apparently the whole scenario at the cabin is part of an ancient ritual sacrifice that’s happening all over the world. There are footage shown at other facilities and there’s some kind of competitive nature between the various locations.

Now, here’s one main beef I have with this movie:

Just why in the world is a control room with a big red button that says ‘PURGE SYSTEM’ where two of the characters got into is NOT guarded as well as it should’ve been? I mean, if you’ve seen this movie, you know just how crucial and critical that the BIG RED BUTTON does NOT get pushed, whether by accident or not. It’s akin to a button that launches nuclear warheads being aimed at our own neighborhoods, no? Except that this sounds like a far more terrifying way to die than being nuked!!

If THIS is what's gonna happen w/ one button being pushed, wouldn't there be EXTRA security to guard the darn thing?!
If THIS is what’s gonna happen w/ one button being pushed, wouldn’t there be EXTRA security to guard the darn thing?!

Another thing that sort of bothered me after the movie is how my expectations about the plot doesn’t quite aligned with what actually transpires on screen. The whole time I was watching this, I was under the impression that ALL the monsters had been man-made somehow. That the people in labs all over the world created those creatures as killing instruments, and they have a system to trap unsuspecting victims that’d become the ‘stars’ of their shows, for a lack of a better word. So the main purpose of this whole ‘game’ is motivated by greed or fierce competition (where the facility that produce the most killings the fastest win). So when that Purge System button got pushed releasing the creatures from their confinements, the people lost control of their own monster creations, and they’re running rampant killing everybody as they’re basically built as killing machines. I feel like it’d be far more sinister when humans actually create those monsters that end up being the root of their own demise.  Anybody else feels this way, or am I the only one??

Still, the idea of mixing supernatural things with technology – and the idea that people could actually contain ALL of those goblins and demons and confine them into elevators – is pretty imaginative. I could see why this movie was a hit with the critics (92% on Rotten Tomatoes for a horror flick is impressive!) Director and co-writer Drew Goddard thew plenty of humor thrown in as well to lighten the mood, though it certainly has plenty of blood and gore as well to please horror fans. Again this is NOT my genre, but I do appreciate the unusual storyline and overall it’s pretty entertaining.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


FAST & FURIOUS 6

Fast6Poster

Hobbs has Dom and Brian reassemble their crew in order to take down a mastermind who commands an organization of mercenary drivers across 12 countries. Payment? Full pardons for them all.

So, another movie that’s not exactly my cup of tea. I’ve got to admit the high rating from critics and audiences alike got me curious about this one. No, I didn’t bother watching the other five movies in this franchise as I don’t think I’d be at a loss in regards to the story, and I was right.

All I had to do was go to the IMDb page for this movie and after about five minutes, I got enough ‘history’ of Dom and his ‘family.’ Interesting that his name is Dom (short for Dominic), is it to suggest he’s like the Don in a racer ‘mafia’ or something?? [shrug] In any case, so basically Dom (Vin Diesel, still clad in his favorite wife-beater) and his BFF Brian (Paul Walker, the pretty blond former LAPD) was involved in a Rio heist the last time around which toppled some kingpin’s empire and thus left their crew with about $100 mil. The crew are now scattered all over the globe since their run-in with the law, unable to return home. But then Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson w/ the perfect moniker The Samoan Thor) shows up in his posh villa in Spain offers him a chance at redemption in return for his help to catch a ruthless criminal Shaw (Luke Evans). Apparently one of the catch Hobbs threw at Dom was a photo of his lost love Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) who’s supposedly been killed. So the chance of finding Letty again PLUS getting a full pardon for his entire crew turns out to be an offer he can’t refuse.

Fast6Stills

As this is the first time I encountered Dom’s crew, I’m most entertained by Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) who’re constantly bickering. They’re the comic relief of sort and I love that they’re not above making fun of their whole group. The women are pretty much the killer eye candy, not quite a femme-fatale but at least not the ‘damsel in distress’ type. There are endless fight scenes between Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez, but then again what else is Gina to do, we all know acting nor emoting is not her strong suit. The rest of the guys are pretty much only rehashing what they’ve been doing in the last five movies (except for Dwayne Johnson who’s only joined the franchise in the previous sequel Fast Five). The two main players Diesel and Walker are the least interesting people in the whole bunch. Yes I know the rest of the group aren’t exactly magnetic either, but still, those two are pretty dull indeed.

But hey, you go see this movie not really for the stunts and well, Taiwanese director Justin Lin delivers the goods big time with the most ridiculous car chases from start to finish. Seems as if the filmmakers go out of their way to create some extra outrageous stunts, which is ludicrous even by Michael Bay standards. Case in point: two people from two opposite vehicles jumping across a bridge with cars on the highway going 100 MPH, then somehow manage to catch each other midair and landing on the hood of a running vehicle and come away absolutely unscathed. I mean, come on!! The funny thing is, the very same characters were discussing just a few scenes ago about how they got their scars from doing relatively ‘safer’ stunt than this one they pulled off here!! If you’ve seen the latest official trailer, you’ll know exactly which scene I’m referring to.

Fast6Stunt
Trust me, this is nowhere near as ludicrous as what’s about to happen next

Luke Evans as the villain Shaw started out quite promising. The Welsh actor is hunky with tons of sex appeal and screen charisma to boot (hence he’s one of my choices to play 007), but I feel like his role is underwritten. He appears cool but lacks menace as there’s not much substance to his character. Plus the ending is rather anti-climactic despite such a bombastic action sequence. Oh, it was fun to see an Indonesian actor Joe Taslim (The Raid) displaying his kick-ass fighting skills as one of Shaw’s minions, though I’m still baffled as to why he was speaking Indonesian at one point in the movie, ahah.

Well overall this movie was worth the price of a matinee showing. It’s still a heck of a lot better than Die Hard 5 and according to my hubby who had to endure the G.I. Joe sequel, it’s a hundred times better than that one, ahah. I’m not about to check out the other five movies prior to this, but you know what, I just might give Fast 7 a shot. Yes, with $310 mil worldwide gross so far, I don’t think we’ll be seeing the end of this franchise any time soon!


3 out of 5 reels

What are your thoughts on these movies? I’m especially curious to hear what you think of my reaction to The Cabin in the Woods Let me know in the comments!