Due to some antiquated filming techniques and bland storytelling, Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins is painful to watch in this day and age.
Released several months before the first live-action Mortal Kombat movie, the Journey Begins is an animated tie-in that focuses on some of the most popular characters from the fighting game series. Back when this movie came out, its biggest selling point was the fact that it blended traditional animation with 3D computer-generated graphics. Sadly, this technique hasn’t aged well, making The Journey Begins painful to watch in this day and age.
In terms of story, The Journey Begins tries to explain some of the important events in the series in a 40-minute animated film. The result is a confusing mess of events that are introduced at a breakneck speed and the way in which iconic fights are presented leaves a lot to be desired.
This animated movie follows Johnny Cage, Liu Kang and Sonya Blade as they travel to a mysterious island to participate in an ancient tournament known as Mortal Kombat. In the competition, the most powerful fighters from Earthrealm and the Outworld fight each other to decide the future of the universe. Some of the characters that make an appearance include Scorpion, Raiden, Shang Tsung, Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, Sub-Zero and Goro, among others. Despite being a prequel to the live-action Mortal Kombat movie, there’s plenty of opportunities for confrontations between fighters from both realms, the problem is that all the fights happen in horrendous CGI.
Some specific parts of the animated movie switches to segments that were made entirely in CGI and they look horrible. The traditional animation isn’t that good either, but in comparison, the CGI segments are almost unwatchable. To put it in perspective, the 2D scenes resemble those terrible CD-i games made for the Phillips console. I can’t emphasize how bad this looks.
There’s not a lot to like in this animated movie: the animation is horrendous, the blend of 2D and 3D is horrendous, the story’s confusing and the entire film feels like a quick cash-in to promote the live-action movie. As a consequence, I would only recommend this movie to Mortal Kombat fans who are interested in watching everything based on the series regardless of how obscure (or in this case, poor in quality) they may be. For everyone else, there are better ways to follow the lore and know about these characters such as the live-action movie or the fantastic reboot that came out in 2011.