Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

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"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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Nightwolf: Cool, huh? It's my Animality.

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Trivia: In the beginning of the movie, when Rayden 'shoots himself' against Kahn, he makes a strange cry, which is actually from the Mortal Kombat II games.

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Question: Is there any story as to why the overall quality of this production was much less than the first Mortal Kombat? For example, the computer-animated creatures and morph effects seemed much worse than the first movies, and certainly worse than any other movie of the year. Also, the costumes and sets were of a lower quality than the first movie. Everything seemed to be a step down from Mortal Kombat 1. You would think that the sequel would have a bigger budget, but it seemed just the opposite with this movie.

Answer: Mortal Kombat 2 was given a budget around the same as the first one probably indicating that New Line (makers of the film) were not convinced the film would not be as much an success as the original was. The buget of 30 million is not too high of a risk for a major film studio. The original was more built on the novelty of the video game and the interest of how it would translate to the screen so a sequel was always going to be tough. While it's hard to find out why the quality was unimpressive, this can just be more from different film crews from the first or just tougher f/x to try and create for the film in the time available. Take The Mummy Returns for example. The Scorpion King near the end looked far too computer generated. This was despite a massive budget and impressive CGI for both films.

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Answer: From what I've gathered about the film, the entire production was rushed by the studio and producers, as they wanted to capitalize on the first film's success. Pre-production was troubled at best. Funds weren't allocated to the right places. The film was often being re-written on the fly on set, so large chunks of the movie were being changed at the last minute. It also had a first-time director at the helm who supposedly had a very bad time making the movie due to how hectic it was. And finally, the studio forced them to release the film before it was completely finished, hence the effects and editing were never finalized. So basically, it was a perfect storm of a rushed production without a finished script, an overwhelmed first-time director, and a studio that wouldn't let the producers properly "complete" the movie. Hence, the entire film was a complete mess and was very low-quality.


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