Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is a follow-up to the one of the most successful video games adaptations. There were significant changes in casting and direction, yet most of the production team returned. So why second Mortal Kombat movie practically killed the franchise? Let’s have a look.
The story starts where the previous movie ended. Our heroes return to Earth realm after victory in the tournament. Unfortunately, they are attacked by main villain Shao Khan, his army of generals and fighters literally falling from the sky. This type of “aerial incursion” happens in movie multiple times and is even by creators remarked as pretty stupid (the scene where Jax is asking why they are not wearing any parachutes). During this introductory scene, two things are noticeable. Already mentioned the change in cast and overall style of dialogue. You will see for the first time that Raiden, Sonja, and few other actors were replaced and a plethora of new characters are introduced (Shao Khan and his generals Sindel, Motaro and the generic pink/purple sub-zero type dudes). The change of actors can be forgiven under circumstances, but the total degradation of any character dialogue cannot. Sindel, played by Musetta Vander, is wonderfully overacted character. It’s this kind of overacting that adds an additional layer of bizarreness on top of completely weird sentences actors have to say.
Let’s have a look at two examples. Sindel introduction and dialogue between Sonya and Raiden about what is going on. Both examples sound exact like something out of the video game.
Kitana exhaled in surprise, “Mother, you are alive!”
“Too bad, you … will DIE!”, barked Sindel.
“I thought by winning the tournament portals closed”, Sonja said towards Raiden.
Raiden calmly replies,”What can be closed, can be opened.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Sonja looked completely puzzled.
WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN will be most frequent sentence flying around your mind if you keep thinking about story and dialogue. I suspect there is a message within the movie that acknowledges this issue, at least symbolically. When Liu Kang meets with Nightwolf, he learns that earth is invaded because tournament rules had been broken and don’t apply anymore. Nightwolf says… “this time, anything goes.” It is exactly like this with the whole movie. Any logic and common sense are thrown out of the window, because this time, anything goes! (plus the movie tagline from poster says Destroy all expectactions). Who cares that Raiden is supposedly tricked by elder gods into thinking reuniting Sindel and Kitana will close portals. He alone proposes this idea 10 minutes into the movie start. Long before he met with any of the elder gods supposedly tricking him into pursuing this idea. Who cares that Sub-zero aids our heroes by creating a very nice ice bridge. Bridge that is destroyed mere seconds after it is created, but don’t worry because our protagonists can just jump over the ledge to other side. Why the hell is Sonya telling Jax she cannot explain what is going on when they are walking together side by side for hours? There are many pieces and scenes during the movie.
On the other hand, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation surprises also in the good sense, in certain scenes, I dare to say surpasses original. It is apparent that the John R. Leonetti (director) has very good eye for a great shot. For example, Raiden’s fight against 3 dudes was an impressive mix of choreography and great music. It was like watching a dance and damn good one. Architecture, sets, lighting and special effects seemed cheaper than previous Mortal Kombat, but they were still quite impressive (Nightwolf morphing effect) and “pleasant” to look at. All this is accompanied with music composed by George S. Clinton who returned to score after first Mortal Kombat. Some tracks are better, some worse, but the overall feeling is very positive.
After fleetingly meeting many characters of the Mortal Kombat universe only so they can share a little nugget of their wisdom or show who kicks higher, our heroes show up in the final battle. With less than an hour to save the world. Jax vs. Motaro, Kitana vs Sindel, Liu Kang. vs Shao Kahn and Sonya gets leftovers (as quoted in the movie). Lots of ass kicking ends when elder gods step in and decide to restore everything back as it was in the beginning. They declare that fate of Earth will be decided as it should be through Mortal Kombat tournament. Are you freaking kidding me? After saying that you will not interfere in the middle of the movie, you decide to interfere? And what about the last tournament Earth won? Didn’t Earth win another 1000 years of peace? Are we going to ignore that? What the heeeeeeeeeeeck???!!!!
Trivia: Musetta Vander played also prominently in videogames (Dune 2000, Emperor: Battle for Dune, It came from Desert TurboGrafx-CD version etc.).