"Mortal Kombat: Annihilation" is perhaps my biggest guilty pleasure. From any objective standpoint, it's a complete and utter failure. The story is nonsensical. The characters are flat. The direction is bland. And the special effects are utterly laughable. And yet... it's one of the most entertaining movies of the 90's, provided you go in with the right mindset. If you're a fan of B-movie schlock or enjoy the occasional so-bad-it's-good film... then this is the movie for you! It's so incompetent, it's hilarious.
Picking up moments after the ending of the first film, the dreaded Outworld Emperor Shao Kahn manages to open a series of portals in order to invade the Earth. And it's up to our heroes Liu Kang, Kitana, Sonya Blade, Jax and Lord Raiden to save the day! And of course they must save the day through the power of... dozens of barely connected sub-plots that go absolutely nowhere and an onslaught of constant fight sequences!
If I were to say anything to film's actual credit, I will say some that some of the cast members do a pretty good job. Robin Shou and Talisa Soto return in the roles of Liu Kang and Kitana, and they're just as likable as they were the first time around. I also kind of liked James Remar as the new Raiden. While he's not quite as good as Christopher Lambert was in the first movie, he's still serviceable. But that's where the positives end and the negatives begin.
The film is a complete mess. The script makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Dialogue is comprised almost exclusively of ham-fisted exposition, or shaky mentions of "legends" and "prophecies," which often make no sense or contradict one-another. And the movie is loaded with sub-plots that come and go on a whim and never pay off. There's also a staggering lack of character development. More specifically, the characters all seemingly "un-learn" the lessons they learned in the first film... only to re-learn them in this film.
Visually, the film is ridiculous. Director John R. Leonetti seems in over his head, with sequences that feel flat and uninspired at best... and laughable at worst. He may be a talented cinematographer, but he doesn't understand pace or composition at all. Heck, even the fight sequences feel really bland. The movie is also loaded with blatant mistakes that are virtually impossible not to notice. And the effects? Whoo, boy! They are some of the worst that the 90's coughed up. From atrocious green-screen with hazy edges to idiotic digital monsters that looks like something out of a cartoon... you almost gotta see these effects to believe them!
So why do I enjoy this movie? Well, to me... the movie hits that delightful stride where there's so much wrong, it's endearing. Much like "The Room" or "Troll 2," the level of incompetence in the script and execution is so staggering, you can't help but laugh at it and have a good time picking it apart. It's the perfect movie to watch with a group of friends (and maybe a couple beers) and riff jokes. While the first "Mortal Kombat" was fun for all the right reason, "Annihilation" is fun for all the wrong ones.
I have to give it a 1 out of 5 just to be fair and objective. Because it is a terrible movie by any stretch of the imagination. But it's so much fun to watch! If you like a good-bad flick, check it out.
Revealing mistake: At the end of the Sub-Zero vs Scorpion fight, Liu Kang jumps over to help Sub-Zero and Scorpion teleports away. A few moments later you see a shot where you see all the actors, (Liu Kang, Sub-Zero and Kitana), if you look closely you can see Scorpion waiting in the background just waiting to pop up and snatch Kitana.
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