I love Mortal Kombat! Ever since I was a young lad, I was playing the games, learning the moves, and celebrating the use of digitized blood and gore that wasn't a thing in games back then. Of course it had its fair share of controversy, but it endured even until today where we still get stellar and incredibly violent entries in the long running franchise. When it comes to movie adaptations, Mortal Kombat isn't so lucky. The first movie, while still fun, wasn't the most accurate adaptation with it's PG-13 rating really limiting it, and the sequel being one of the worst movies of the 1990s. Funny enough, the new ANIMATED film Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge ends up being the least cartoony (in tone) and most accurate adaptation of the classic MK storyline yet.
Director Ethan Spaulding (Batman: Assault on Arkham) and writer Jeremy Adams obviously love Mortal Kombat. If you love Mortal Kombat, or even just like it, it's very apparent throughout the movies runtime that these two have reverence to the franchise. There are tons of easter eggs and fan service that in other films distract from the story (think something like DOOM Annihilation) but works here because each one is carefully woven into the story in smart ways. It's not just "Look at this thing! Remember this from the third game?" which I appreciated.
The pace is break-neck with the first five minutes setting up the plot perfectly while also having tons of gruesome violence that will please any fan. The film also perfectly sets up every character, which there are many, and does so in a very accurate fashion. Each character is how they should be with Johnny Cage being as goofy as ever and Sonya Blade being the most badass she's ever been. Overall, it's great!
Scorpion's Revenge retells one of the original stories of the series but decides to do so by focusing mainly on the character Hanzo, aka Scorpion. Hanzo, along with his family and clan, is brutally murdered by rival clan leader Bi-Han, aka Sub-Zero, and sent to the hell-like world of the Netherrealm. While there, he meets a sorcerer named Quan-Chi who promises him revenge as long as he wins the Mortal Kombat tournament. Hanzo agrees and is resurrected as the undead warrior Scorpion.
The rest of the plot is very similar to the original 1995 movie where various characters (Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, Raiden, and Liu Kang) are all introduced and sent to an island to compete in the tournament, and it's pretty much the same from there. It's a story we've seen many times in the series (most recently in the 2011 game), and it doesn't do a lot to justify being told again even with the Scorpion focal point being there. Luckily, it's so fun and brutal that it doesn't really matter. It's a great starting point for a Mortal Kombat animated film series, and it worked fine for me.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
I love voice acting. It's something that I've even considered doing in the future because of how much I appreciate the art. With a cast of very different and unique characters, you need to get the voice acting just right. Well, they freaking nailed it here. Scorpion's Revenge has a great mix of professional voice actors like Steve Blum and Darin De Paul and film actors like Joel McHale (who's the perfect Johnny Cage) and Jennifer Carpenter (who's an awesome Sonya Blade). Each actor nails their character’s personality from the games, which I appreciated considering how flat a lot of the performances felt in previous adaptations. Dialogue is serviceable and does the job. Nothing great, but works well with Mortal Kombat and has its fair share of funny moments.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
One thing I can say about Warner Bros. Animations previous work is I don't usually notice the music. That might just be me, but I never found their scores to be anything special. That's mainly the case with Scorpion's Revenge as well. While it does amplify the action and does sound like something you'd hear in a Mortal Kombat game, it's just not very memorable. It works for the film but doesn't leave a lasting impression.
Warner Bros. Animation has proven time and time again that they are kings of the straight to video animated films. Whether it be a DC film or not, they usually produce quality animations that can even rival some of the theatrically released animated films in terms of quality. That stays the case with the gorgeous animation in Scorpion's Revenge. The fluid movements, accurate character designs, and terrifically bloody action set pieces are some of the best that WBA has done, and I've watched a lot of their previous work. What I thought was especially well done was the few moments where the animation would blend other animation styles together. The use of 3D camera work with 2d elements usually doesn't work, but it's done flawlessly here. I also loved the anime influence that this had with some of the action having a very Japanese feel to the movements and character designs in certain scenes. I love when an animated film can blend different styles and still make a cohesive film.
"...Most accurate adaptation of the classic MK storyline yet."
Mortal Kombat Legends has violence, beautiful animation, tons of easter eggs, violence, plenty of fun action, terrific voice acting, violence, accuracy to the source, humor, and a lot of VIOLENCE! What a fun romp this ended up being. As a huge fan of the source, I'm very pleased with the time I spent watching this. Great stuff! Now, give me that sequel! I'm ready!