Given the recent slate of DC Animation films, there was little doubt Warner Bros. Animation could handle the bloody carnage of the Mortal Kombat series. Not to be outdone by the DC films, Mortal Kombat: Scorpion’s Revenge is even bloodier, gory and spectacularly violent. In other words, Scorpion’s Revenge should satisfy most Mortal Kombat fans despite a few issues.
Any concerns this would be a sanitized version of Mortal Kombat are erased within the first five minutes. This is carnage in animated form. The level of unrelenting violence is actually impressive. Director Ethan Spaulding (Son of Batman, Batman: Assault on Arkham) doesn’t just have characters getting killed. They’re filleted, dissected, dismembered, decapitated and apparently all have 62 teeth and 800 gallons of blood in their bodies. Scorpion’s Revenge might test the limits of viewers who never considered themselves squeamish before.
The film is largely set up as an origin film for both Scorpion and the Mortal Kombat saga in general.
Although Scorpion (Patrick Seitz) gets top billing, his plot runs concurrent with the larger Mortal Kombat tournament. Raiden (Dave B. Mitchell) assembles Shaolin monk Liu Kang (Jordan Rodrigues), special forces soldier Sonya Blade (Jennifer Carpenter) and washed up actor Johnny Cage (Joel McHale, Stargirl) to help prevent Shang Tsung (Artt Butler) and his mammoth enforcer Goro (Kevin Michael Richardson) from seizing control of Earth Realm.
Scorpion’s subplot is simpler as he’s gunning for payback after his family and clan are killed by Sub-Zero (Steve Blum) and his minions. The fiery path of bloody revenge is astonishing in its brutality, but it’s understandable.
I didn’t love the character designs as they looked too angular and stiff. The recent games have seen a drastic graphic enhancement with fantastic borderline lifelike CGI for the characters. Going the more traditional 2D route results in a downgrade of the smooth animation style of the games. I’m curious if Warner Bros. experimented with trying out a CGI style for this film or if they knew right away they wanted to go with this more cartoonish style.
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While this is an origin film, screenwriter Jeremy Adams adds in several franchise fan favorites like Jax (Ike Amadi) to tease their larger involvement in potential future installments. It seems like some characters get shortchanged as cannon fodder although it’s possible Adams worked in loopholes to bring back some of the victims.
For the most part, the characters ring true to their usual portrayals in the video game universe. It’s clear Adams is a fan of the franchise and didn’t just take the screenwriting gig for a big payday. He name drops some characters who seem destined to appear in sequels, which is welcome unofficial confirmation this isn’t just a one-off project.
If there’s one character Adams tweaks too much it’s Cage, where he forces making him the comic relief by having him act like an airhead instead of a self-absorbed narcissist that gets thrown into this realm-spanning conflict.
The use of foul language isn’t as jarring here as it is in the DC Universe films, which always felt like a needless attempt to be edgy. It feels far more natural here and truer to the source material.
Occasionally the action sequences are a blur as the combatants move too quickly at times. Spaulding does the Mortal Kombat X-ray view of bones breaking gimmick to the point of excess and probably would have been better served limiting that to the major battles instead of every fight. That’s minor complaints though as the over the top action is a hallmark of the series in general so matching that in animated form isn’t the worst plan.
Mortal Kombat: Scorpion’s Revenge serves up a toasty appetizer for MK fans ready for a brutal and bloody take on the franchise with hints of a lot more carnage to come.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Photo Credit: Warner Home Animation
Get Mortal Kombat: Scorpion’s Revenge on sale this week at Amazon.