Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms review

Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms continues the Warner Bros. Animation take on the long running video game series with a less satisfying sequel to Scorpion’s Revenge.

There’s still plenty to appeal to Mortal Kombat fans from the array of characters, the fight sequences and an appropriately menacing big boss.

Shao Khan (Fred Tatasciore) wants revenge after the last tournament where his minion Shang Tsung (Artt Butler) failed to gain control of Earth realm.

mortal kombat battle of the realms review - Scorpion and Raiden

Standing in the path of Shao Khan’s domination is Raiden (Dave B. Mitchell) and his Earth realm allies —  Liu Kang (Jordan Rodrigues), Sonya Blade (Jennifer Carpenter) Johnny Cage (Joel McHale, Stargirl), Jax (Ike Amadi), Kung Lao (Matthew Yang King) and Stryker (Matthew Mercer).

The wild cards in this next round of Mortal Kombat is Scorpion (Patrick Seitz) and Sub-Zero (Bayardo De Murguia). Sub-Zero seeks revenge after Scorpion killed his brother. Their rivalry threatens to unleash another major threat. Sub-Zero’s ninja clan seeks to further stack the odds by upgrading its warriors into cyborgs with little trace of their emotions.

mortal kombat battle of the realms review - Sub-Zero

Returning screenwriter Jeremy Adams probably could have just chosen one plot or the other as both have enough storytelling potential for a full length animated movie. At 90-minutes, Battle of the Realms is as long as most feature films with greater depth. The two main plot format forces Adams to stretch the story beyond its obvious end point to create a resolution for both arcs.

It’s a situation where Adams could have teased one — preferably the Scorpion/Sub-Zero threat — and end the film with the final confrontation with Shao Khan.

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Shao Khan is built up like a considerable threat and his actions throughout the film reinforce the desire to see him defeated. Playing the film out for another 15 minutes diminishes the climax and wraps the movie on a less thrilling note.

Director Ethan Spaulding is also back for the sequel, which means Battle of the Realms is packed with high energy action sequences. Character designs still look too angular and overly cartoonish for the tone of the film. Johnny Cage tends to get portrayed as more of a comedic anime character instead of a cocky combatant fighting for his life.

mortal kombat battle of the realms review - sonya blade

It’s weird to complain about the gore and violence in a cartoon based on Mortal Kombat, but the violence feels exaggerated and gratuitous. Spaulding leans too hard into the game gimmick of showing an X-ray of bones breaking and shattering after a vicious hit.

That plays better in the game since it’s a quick death match. With the film, characters take insane beatings, stabbings, bites, etc. and walk it off as if it was a flesh wound.

mortal kombat battle of the realms review - jax vs kintaro

This clashes with the final act, which actually has characters getting killed in gruesome fashion. Those fatalities are perfectly in line with the game, but these deaths mean more as it’s done to characters that log significant screen time in the film only to get casually discarded for the sake of a flashy death scene.

Killing characters in the video games don’t matter since they’re back immediately for the next fight. In the film those deaths are far more permanent. In one particular case, a character’s death seemed inevitable based on an earlier questionable choice.

mortal kombat battle of the realms review - Stryker

Battle of the Realms hits all the required Mortal Kombat marks, but goes overboard in killing off fun characters. The extended final fight does more harm to the enjoyment factor than feeling like an unexpected bonus. This should entertain fans of the series, but it likely won’t create a massive demand for a third installment.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment

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