From the moment the insistent, “dun dun dun” beats of “Mortal Kombat”‘s infamous theme song begins in the opening credits, every child born in the 1980s feels a little stir in their belly and a rush of adrenaline. That kind of heavy reliance on bombastic, overwhelming stimuli is exactly what’s needed for a one-on-one fighting game adapted into a fairly big-budget studio movie: The kids in the audience aren’t particularly interested in character development, narrative flow, or the exploration of heavy, symbolic themes. They want to see their favorite characters from the game duking it out on some cool sets with new powers and gadgets, and boy does the movie deliver in that regard. The set design is inventive and gorgeous to look at (reminiscent of the emphasis on style over substance that accompanied music videos of the era, like Madonna’s “Express Yourself” and Janet Jackson’s “If”), the costumes are faithful to the video game’s branded designs without being unimaginative, and the actors know what movie they’re in, and they carry an “let’s have fun with this” vibe that extends to the audience. Ultimately it’s not exactly a masterpiece or anything, but it’s definitely a light, fun watch once in a while.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)