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Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
There are a lot of bad sequels out there but rarely does a follow up film suck as hard as Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. While the first movie might not have been the greatest movie ever made, it was at least an entertaining action/martial arts romp with some fun characters and a reasonably coherent storyline.
Basically picking up where the first film left off, the movie begins with the death of Johnny Cage (Chris Conrad) when the evil Shao-Kahn (Brian Thompson) disregards the rules of Mortal Kombat established in the first movie and ports his evil minions to Earth. In a few days, his evil realm will basically gobble up our world and he will reign supreme. This makes it sound like we're pretty screwed, right? Well, thankfully we've got a few good guys to stand in Shao-Kahn's way in the form of Liu Kang (Robin Shou), Sonya Blade (a noticeably bra-less Sandra Hess), Jax (Lynn Williams) and the mysterious wizard-like guy Raiden (James Remar in the strangest role of his career).
Unfortunately for our heroes, Shao-Kahn has got some super soldiers of his own, like Sindel (Musetta Vander), Motaro (Deron McBee), Rain (Tyrone Wiggins), Ermac (John Medlen) and Sheeva (Marjean Holden). Lots of people fight, then more people fight, characters appear and disappear fairly randomly, and we're bombarded with some of the most amazingly awful digital effects work you will ever see in a film that supposedly cost thirty million dollars to make, all of which leads up to one big final fight that doesn't really clear anything up or redeem this film in any way whatsoever.
So right away, this sequel throws away everything that was established in the first film, ignoring the logic, rules and plot points that were established there in favor or a rudimentary setup that basically allows for different characters to fight at different times for reasons that don't really matter. This results not so much in a linear story but in random characters popping up throughout the movie for inconsequential reasons to fight, and then pop out of the movie as quickly a they popped in. The result is a completely confusing film that doesn't actually make much sense. If the filmmakers were to compensate for this with character development or plot twists or try to hide it with good special effects then maybe it'd be easier to forgive, but none of that happens. The characters are so thin and flat that you don't care for them at all - the heroes are simply good guys and the villains are simply bad guys, that's all we're really given to work off of. The effects, almost all of which are digital, are dated even by the standards of the year that this movie was made and the whole thing is just impossibly awful in every way you can imagine.
To the film's credit, there are a couple of moderately cool fight scenes and some of the hand to hand combat is impressive, but then you've got James Remar showing up with a weird hair cut spouting off dialogue that hurts and you wind up trying not to crawl up into the fetal position and cry. There are some amusing so bad its good moments here for those who want them, so the movie has that going for it, but even by the frequently low standards of big dumb action movies this one is just too dumb, too flat out stupid, to really matter.The DVD:
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation arrives on Blu-ray in a 1.78.1 widescreen AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that really doesn't look so hot. Now before anyone throws Warner Brothers to the wolves, it has to be said that much (though not all) of the reason that this Blu-ray fails to impress is simply because of the effects work that dominates almost all of the film. With the vast majority of the movie being one giant dated special effects piece, expect things to look soft and lack detail. The CGI and computerized backgrounds do not hold up well at all and while there are a few facial close ups here and there that remind us that we are watching an HD presentation, for the most part this doesn't offer much of an improvement over a DVD. Black levels aren't anything exciting, there's constant ringing and color reproduction is flaky at best, meaning that in the same scene someone's face may be flesh colored, then in the next shot look orange, and then in the next shot look pink. This is a very odd looking movie by nature the colors are spastic at best and generally just all over the place. Random compression artifacts in some of the darker scenes don't help much and neither does the occasional instance of macro-blocking. So while Warner had a tough road ahead of them making a dated and weird looking film shine on Blu-ray, a few of the authoring problems could have probably been avoided.Sound:
The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track on this disc has got plenty of punch when it needs it and it's aggressive enough right out of the starting gate that you will stand up and take notice. Dialogue isn't always delivered with as much depth and range as we might hope for but there are plenty of wild directional effects that come at you from all over the place. Your subwoofer will be working overtime in a few key scenes as the movie has a very strong and heavy lower end to it while channel separation is frequent. All in all, it's as wacky and loud as you'd expect it to be. A Spanish language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is included here as well, as are optional subtitles in English SDH and Spanish.
Aside from a promo spot for the video game, this disc includes animated menus, chapter stops and a trailer for the feature in HD. That's it.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is a stunningly horrible film in every conceivable way. Completely devoid of logic and almost entirely lacking in storytelling, it's honestly quite remarkable just how horrible it is. Bad movie fans will no doubt find a lot to love here, but you've really got to be a glutton for punishment to want to go back to this one. Warner's Blu-ray isn't much to sneeze at, offering up a fairly lousy transfer without much in the way of extras to make up for it. The audio is good, but it's not enough to save this one. Skip it. Forget it ever existed in the first place.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.