Warner Bros.’ Mortal Kombat reboot doesn’t hit US theaters and HBO Max for another nine days, but the video game adaptation was released in seventeen international territories last week, scoring the biggest debut of the pandemic era in Russian cinemas. Stateside reviews are still embargoed for the time being, but international outlets have been happy to praise Simon McQuoid’s feature in their write-ups.
As much as the fans have loved every shred of footage they’ve seen so far throughout the various trailers and TV spots, the real struggle for Mortal Kombat in terms of finding commercial success is how much it manages to appeal to casual viewers that have never played any of the games and couldn’t tell you anything about the intricately complex lore.
Based on the reviews, though, the pic appears to have mostly struck that balance, although there’s said to be some sections of the expositional worldbuilding that’ll go straight over the heads of the uninitiated. For instance, IGN Middle East was suitably impressed, but the publication did point out the aforementioned accessibility issues.
“If you’re a Mortal Kombat fan, you’ll have a blast since you’ll fill in the gaps with your pre-existing knowledge of the series and just revel in the violence. But for the average viewer, there will be little reason to care for the stakes here. Ultimately that’s what 2021’s Mortal Kombat comes down to – a solid video game adaptation full of fan service for the gamers (stay for the sequel tease) and a decent action movie for everyone else.”
South China Morning Post’s summary, meanwhile, certainly makes Mortal Kombat sound as though it’s exactly the movie longtime fans of the series have been waiting so long to see.
“Nuanced character drama this most certainly isn’t; instead, this is boxers with ninja blood and green berets with robot arms pummeling invisible lizards and bat-winged demon babes to a bloody pulp. When they’re not fighting, characters bicker and spout pseudo-spiritual idioms until it’s time to square off again. Mortal Kombat is not for the discerning palate, but for those in the know – get over here!”
And finally, Fortress admits that there are definitely issues in term of story and pacing, but the balls to the wall insanity of the action sequences is more than enough to make up for any narrative shortcomings.
“Mortal Kombat (2021) doesn’t come without its knocks. From pacing issues to lack of character development and strange editing, it isn’t just a quick win. Yet, despite the occasional blow, the film still keeps kicking and comes out victorious in the end. Sometimes, you just need to watch a movie where a character freezes another one’s blood and stabs him with it.”
The general consensus is that there’s more than enough on offer to see Mortal Kombat send the diehards home happy while still managing to be a broad and entertaining enough fantasy martial arts action movie, which is no doubt hugely encouraging news for the studio who must already have one eye on potential sequels and spinoffs.