Not only is Annihilation a terrible movie, but it also manages to get rid of every element that made the original Mortal Kombat such an engaging guilty pleasure.
The original Mortal Kombat wasn’t a very good movie. Still, the flawed film managed to be consistently entertaining even when its core action was quite repetitive. As a consequence of that movie’s success, a direct sequel was planned and eventually released. Unfortunately, not only is Annihilation a terrible movie, but it also manages to get rid of every element that made the original Mortal Kombat such an engaging guilty pleasure.
This film starts with a “previously on”-like feature which vaguely attempts to explain some of the events of Mortal Kombat. Although quite inconvenient, this device is somehow necessary considering the ending of the previous movie. Those who have recently watched it may remember that at the end of that film, a portal communicating the Earthrealm and Outworld suddenly appeared. Immediately after that, new fighters from the Outworld are transported to our planet, resulting in worldwide chaos. As usual in this type of movie, an arbitrary number of days is given as an ultimatum. In this case, the good guys must defeat the evil forces of Outworld in exactly six (working?) days or our planet will perish.
Something that immediately becomes obvious to those who have watched the previous film in the series is that the director/producers weren’t able to cast some of the main actors and actresses. Consequently, characters like Sonya and Rayden are played by new actors. The fact that some actors have been replaced by new ones not only is strange, but also makes the film feel very contrived. Apart from this though, the film has many other inconsistencies.
Firstly, new characters from Mortal Kombat 3 were incorporated to the roster… I mean cast (including Motaro, Queen Sindel, Nightwolf, Jade and Jax, among some others.) As there are so many new characters, some of them appear for a few seconds only to be killed moments later. That is the case of Johnny Cage, who is violently murdered during the introductory scene and quickly forgotten by his best friends. Sub-Zero also makes an appearance only that he isn’t the original Sub-Zero (as he was killed in the first film,) but his good-natured brother instead. As he’s good, the fighter helps Liu Kang and Kitana fight Scorpion. The epic fight between Sub-Zero and Scorpion feels extremely forced and provides unnecessary fan service.
Secondly, the film relies heavily on special effects and these quickly becomes a distracting annoyance, mainly because the choreographed fights don’t necessarily need these effects. The extreme use of lackluster special effects quickly becomes ridiculous and they definitely overstay their welcome.
Ultimately, it’s really hard to keep up with the extensive cast of fighters who are part of the tournament. There are so many characters that some of them were only given one or two lines and then, before you know it, they die (like Sindel and Johnny Cage.) In addition, the humdrum storytelling leaves a lot to be desired, dialogues are laughably bad, there are lots of awkward moments and ridiculous one-liners are repeated ad nauseam. Oh and by the way, magical tattoos that transform into flying dragons are an important element of the story and the explanation for that happening is absolutely nonsensical.
Additionally, there are many other elements that contribute to the audience’s tedium. There are myriad references to the games and while some of them are subtle enough (like the use of phrases such as “get over here” and “finish him,”) some others are just overly alienating. I don’t know who liked the idea of characters transforming into beasts (known as Animalities in the games,) but that person shouldn’t be allowed to write movie scripts ever again. As if it wasn’t enough with robots, magical tattoos and four-armed women, we get to see two terrible-looking CGI creatures fighting to death in the most awkward and unnatural ways possible.
Furthermore, even the regular fights represent a problem because the relentless action rarely slows down. I know the movie is based on a fast-paced fighting game, but films don’t actually work that way. During certain scenes, following the action is downright impossible as the viewer is taken through settings pell-mell.
Other scenes are so incoherent that they seem to have been included as a result of a lost bet. Picture this: Rayden (aka thunder god) goes to see the Elders (the most powerful beings in the universe who also act as mediators between the Earthrealm and Outworld) and he is granted three questions whose answers add absolutely nothing to the story. After that, Rayden becomes a mortal and he’s given a new look and a new attitude, becoming one of the most obnoxious character ever. He starts giving compliments to girls, starts minor quarrels with other men and on top of that, he has no powers. Unfortunately, the only thing he lacks is a giant bullseye on his chest.
Mortal Kombat Annihilation is a train wreck. Its plot is so incoherent that it doesn’t attract casual movie goers like the first Mortal Kombat did, the use of lackluster special effects ruins the choreographed fights, the dialogues are a mess, the breakneck action is impossible to follow and I could go on and on. Some movies are so bad, they are hilarious. Some others are so bad, they are unbearable to watch. Undoubtedly, Annihilation falls into the second category.