Movies

Mortal Kombat (2021)

As is tradition with the Mortal Kombat movies, this one, like all predecessors, will have a terrible plot and execution but the fatalities will be glorious. And after viewing, this was precisely the case. I understand now why Warner Bros released the first 7 minutes on YouTube. That opening scene is the best fight of the entire movie.

Let me list the good in the movie before explaining the bad. The good parts are:

  • Fatalities: gruesome and what fans of the games wanted to see.
  • Character quips: in-line with the games, and well deserving of the characters.
  • Special effects: the budget clearly was spent mostly on this and it shows.
  • Camerawork: easy to follow along with the action and clear focus.
  • Costumes: great job at adapting the video game characters into real life.
  • Game References: fans will catch many of these and put a smile on their faces.

To address plot, which one doesn’t come to see with a Mortal Kombat movie, it is an incredible shame that this film decided to, once again, make it a set-up and prequel to the tournament. You can’t and shouldn’t call this movie Mortal Kombat if there’s no tournament. I would have called it something like “The Defenders of Earthrealm: Mortal Kombat Stories”. That makes better sense and helps diminish the disappointment when someone watches this movie expecting to finally see the tournament, for once.

What we got was a poor man’s attempt to put a coherent story for this franchise. Which is doubly shameful because the video games, especially the most recent MK11, have an actually decent plot. In fact, you’d be better off watching all the cutscenes of that on YouTube and you’d have seen a better told story. This film starts with a great scene between Hanzo Hasashi versus Sub-Zero and then jumps to a piss-poor MMA fight scene with our new protagonist Cole Young played by Lewis Tan. The actor here did a great job with what he had to work with. His martial arts background was clearly displayed, and it helped with the camerawork because there were no rapid cuts between stuntman and actor. Anyways, the story quickly develops into Cole on the run from Outworld assassins and on a journey to Lord Raiden’s temple. And then it simply stays there.

Enough on the plot, let’s talk about the fights. Some were enjoyable, others were a bore. Some were CGI fests and required even more suspension of reality – Goro would have killed his opponent with one punch, or the many that he threw in the barn would have ended them. I actually found myself reading stuff on my phone several times because the fights were merely fluff on the way to the fatalities.

Overall, it’s a fun watch for fans of the game. Kano is hilarious at quipping, and often references the game. The characters are worthy of their in-game counterparts. And as often stated, the fatalities are worth the price of admission. I didn’t talk much about the actors/actresses or the screenwriters because this is Mortal Kombat, and all people want to see is gruesome death and combat. Acting skills are of little importance as much of the movie is stunt work. This isn’t a movie you take to pad your resume, but rather because you wanted to have some fun. However, for the screenwriters, this is the opposite. This will not pad your resume in the slightest because the writing was banal and atrocious. Inserting game quips is not a testament to your skill. Lines such as: “How’d you get that?” – “He was born with it.” – “What do you mean?” – “It’s a birthmark.” This will forever cement one as a terrible screenwriter.

Mortal Kombat is available now on most streaming services and in theaters.

TV Shows

The Purge Season One

After a series of movies about the so called Purge, where all law is suspended for 12 hours and everything is legal including murder, comes a television show about the said events. I was hoping for a real in-depth exploration as to what such an event would mean, and the impact it would have on the lives of people after such an event took place. Unfortunately, season one is merely yet another torture porn scenario where the politics are glazed over in favor of showcasing brutal violence. There is quite a bit of societal comparison to current events and political climate, and some allegory to be had, but not nearly as much as there should have been.

Season one focuses on an interconnected story of several individuals that culminates in an explosive finale with all parties involved, but the steady rise to get there is not worth the journey of all involved. Only one of the stories was truly interesting, while the rest merely served as allegory on current events. We have a couple, Jenna and Rick, that make a deal with the devil, a founding father/billionaire to invest in their company so that they can help change the world. We have a finance manager, Jane, and her struggles to make it in the world as a professional, black, business woman. We have Joe, an iron worker who feels misplaced and angered at the treatment of his kind in the world, and his solution to it all when Purge night comes. And finally, the best and most captivating story, a brother, Miguel, trying to save his sister, Penelope, from a cult and the entire night of the Purge.

The main story, and that which you root for most, is that of the brother trying to save the sister. It also brings the most emotional impact. The couple serves to narrate how billionaires run the world and their funding is what keeps events such as the Purge going. Similarly to real world events, and how politicians are kept funded by similar entities. Jane speaks volumes as to how all professional women have to bide their tongues and wag their tails, so to speak, while being passed on for promotion and ridiculed by small time jokes about their “ass”. To put it more eloquently, they have to bide their tongues while being the brunt of sexism and gender jokes, bide their tongues while men make small racist jokes, and have to apologize when they don’t feel interested in a man as if it’s somehow their fault and not the man who should simply learn to move on. Joe is the antagonist of the story and the reason why everyone connects in the end. He is angered at being replaced by foreign workers, and by machines. He is angry for being played by legal loopholes that screw over the common man while ensuring those above continue to line their pockets.

Besides these characters, we have minor characters that help develop such a world. Such as Pete the cop, who runs a bar during Purge night to help ensure there’s a safe haven for all. We have the Matron Saints, a collective of trained women that go around saving and protecting other women found in dangerous situations. We have the Stanton family, the aforementioned people that are the deal with the devil, and their socialite lifestyle. We have Lila Stanton who provides an intimate experience with the couple and helped rekindle their marriage. We have Rex the collector, so called because he collects people on Purge night to be given over to a sadistic carnival that allows for bidding of humans to be massacred. And we have Henry, the ex-boyfriend of Penelope and hardcore drug user that provided the reasoning as to why Penelope joined a cult – run by a social worker by the name of Tavis.

It was well acted by all, and I particularly enjoyed Lee Tergesen as Joe. He had quite the charisma as to what basically amounted to as an incel. The camerawork was well done and helped capture an uneasy attitude with crooked angles and rotating the picture to appear upside down. Overall, I recommend it if you’re a fan of the Purge series. And if you’re not, and torture porn/brutal violence is not your thing, give it a pass. You’re not missing anything.

Movies

The Devil All The Time

The following review contains mild spoilers, and fair warning, if you like dogs, avoid this movie.

Directed by: Antonio Campos
Starring: Bill Skarsgard as Willard, Tom Holland as Arvin, Haley Bennett as Charlotte, Sebastian Stan as Sheriff Lee Bodecker, Riley Keough as Sandy, Jason Clarke as Carl, Robert Pattinson as the predator Preacher, Harry Melling as the mad preacher, Eliza Scanlen as Lenora and others.

A movie not about God, but as it’s aptly stated in the title, a movie about the devil. God doesn’t ask anything evil of men, men forget that the devil exists. It’s a movie about wicked men who use the Lord’s name as an excuse for their own evil ways. In some matter or way, or another, every male character is so far gone from the light. It’s a movie about sin, and wickedness, and how they all intertwine together. A mad preacher, a flashy preacher who clearly is a predator (spoiler, pedophile), a burgeoning pair of serial killers – a husband and wife team, a dirty cop blinded by ambition whose sister is the wife of the pair of killers, a man suffering from PTSD and his son who’s affected by his father’s actions in his upbringing. The only good that comes out of it is the parents of the war veteran, Willard, that take in Lenora and his son Arvin.

The movie ilicits a feeling of unsettleness and dread. Only when we are with Arvin, and Lenora do we feel a sense of normalcy. Even then, Arvin has clearly developed his father’s sense of morality. His justice is swift and violent but not without purpose. There’s no room for innocence in this world portrayed in this movie. There’s only those with sinister intent, corruption, and brutality. This movie is a satanist’s wet dream.
I could say I had better to say regarding the story, but I honestly don’t. I don’t recommend this movie in the slightest. In fact, I regret watching it. That being said, all the actors and actresses involved did a phenomenal job portraying their various characters, and that might deserve some awards.

One could try and find meaning in the film, but I’ll leave that to others. I don’t wanna find meaning in this movie. I don’t even wanna offer a second passing thought to it. As I said earlier, it’s a satanist movie. Hard pass.

Movies

Project Power

Great, another superhero movie… Except it isn’t. Like the Boys, this movie appears to be about superheroes but in reality, it’s a whole other bag. Part of it is majorly anti-government, and the bad guys are defense contractors. Well, one company, but still, both The Boys and Project Power share the same kinda baddie. And I enjoy that because it ain’t far from the truth. Why would some stranger in a desert be the bad guy, when those in power would be the ones to want to hold onto that power? They would do anything to keep it. And such is the case in this movie. One of the main characters is Art aka the Major, played by Jamie Foxx, who is on a mission to rescue his daughter from American scientists working for a defense contractor because from him, and his daughter comes the source of superpowers. The delivery mechanism? A pill that will either kill you, or for 5 minutes will give you powers.

What follows is slick action scenes and impressive CGI showcasing various powers, while still having heart in the story. It briefly touches on several issues such as teens dealing drugs can’t play the “but I’m just a child” card when they’re fully aware of what they’re doing. Briefly it touched on how the system is designed to keep young black men and woman from surviving and that they gotta learn to game the system because that’s all the system does to them. They gotta find what they’re good at, and exploit it for their own benefit. It also touches on mass police corruption in New Orleans by suggesting to the other main character, a cop played by Joseph Gordan-Levitt, why would they test the drug there? Because the cops are all easily paid off.

The acting here is phenomenal, not just by Jamie Foxx but also by Dominique Fishback who turns in quite a performance playing a teen dealing drugs to support her diabetic mom. Jamie Foxx chewed the scenery he was in, and I just thoroughly enjoyed watching him. The movie is fun. It feels a little bit like a remedy against superhero movies, and it was nice to see a somewhat original idea. We need more of that for the SciFi genre, instead of rehashing older movies.

Overall, I recommend this movie for a Friday night watch. It’s got action, heart, and just an all around good time… Except for the bad guys. They get their due.

Movies

White House Down

“If you feed a man, you take away his propensity for violence.” This is what immediately sets this movie apart from all other Presidential movies, because the president is a legitimate good guy who wishes to improve the state of poverty within the United States. Secondly, it’s established that the war in the middle East is a massive waste of money that could have been spent bettering the people of that area. And that they’ve established peace talks with Iran in addition to removing all troops. This is within 10 mins of the movie starting. Could you imagine how much better the world would be?

The best part is the news stations talking about how American companies who do business with the military wouldn’t like that one bit. A nice bit of foreshadowing. “All they wanna do is keep the cycle of war going” and “these corporations have been in bed with radical regimes for years.” And another goodie, “those bases are just for show, we could launch a drone off any carrier in the gulf and hit any target we want.” Another gem “The military industrial complex. Those are the manufacturers of the weapons. They think the own the system and they will do anything to keep that power. They profit off your sacrifice.”

With those political leanings out of the way, the movie gets into the nitty gritty with a bomb set off inside the White House and soon armed men take over. What follows is quite enjoyable action scenes with rewarding fights that see our hero, John Cale, played by Channing Tatum, kick ass and taking names. Baddies just fall to his guns, and he essentially is John McLane (even the name is similar). It’s basically Die Hard but inside the White House. And going with that comparison, the jokes are similar and the tone is as well. Jamie Foxx plays the president and he did a good enough job. I mean there’s no standard for it given the current president in the US is far below standards, so if anything, this is quite a great job by Jamie Foxx.

James Woods does a fantastic job of a bitter head of secret service because his son, a marine, was killed during a black ops mission orchestrated by Mr Foxx’s character. He tends to chew the scenery around him, and makes the mercenary head bad guy pale in comparison (played by Jason Clarke). I enjoyed this movie because the bad guys weren’t international but good ole homegrown Americans that wish to keep the status quo going. It feels reminiscent of the times. The director, Roland Emmerich, did a great job at navigating his story. Several scenes are done with his signature style of CGI and explosives, and he even gets his own movie mentioned, Independence Day.

Overall, I recommend this movie if you’re in the mood for some light hearted comedy and action. If you enjoy Die Hard, then you’ll enjoy this as well.