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Advice From A Fanboy: Mortal Kombat

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 7 Oct 2011 16:00
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Go Bloody, Go Big

Death and violence are serious stuff. Mortal Kombat, however, should never be serious but should always be violent. How do you thread that needle? Easy: Nothing exceeds like excess.

Here's a basic formula: Ever seen someone get a paper cut in a movie? It's cringe-inducing. Tiny little cut, tiny little bit of blood, yegh! Now, remember the last time you saw a torrent of blood come blasting out of a severed head or a huge gunshot? Chances are you weren't cringing - you were probably smiling, maybe even laughing, at the very least engaged. Why? Because going far enough over-the-top makes gruesome horror fun.

The guys in a Mortal Kombat movie should be spilling blood like a Mortal Kombat game - that means everyone is basically a big walking balloon ready to splatter buckets, rivers, oceans of blood (the bright-red stagey-fakey kind, too, not the realistic black, oily kind) with every successful punch. No little nicks and scratches, that stuff kills the mood. Need some recent cinematic reference? Machete. Punisher: WarZone. Planet Terror. Pirhana 3D.

Embrace That You Are Making Junk

Let's talk turkey, Warner Bros. It turned out to be a very good financial and creative decision for you to let Christopher Nolan take a hyper-realistic "What if this was the real world?" approach to Batman. This has convinced you, and a lot of other people in your industry, that such an approach is the way to go for other moribund genre properties. This is erroneous, a blight on the medium, and sadly seems to have informed your choice of direction for Mortal Kombat.

Here's the problem: Mortal Kombat is not Batman. You're never going to turn Mortal Kombat into a serious, somber meditation on broad political/social issues with richly-textured character dynamics. Batman, stripped to its basic DNA, actually is about crime and law and the morality thereof. Mortal Kombat, stripped to its basic DNA, is about magical ninjas, busty lady soldiers, monsters from heavy metal album covers and dopplegangers for characters from Big Trouble in Little China ripping each other's guts out. Some things are what they are - Candyland is a fine board game, but Candyland will never be chess.

Mortal Kombat is junk. Sincere junk. Often well-made junk. Enduring junk. But still junk. Silly, goofy, schlocky, cheesy, id-of-a-hyperractive-12-year-old junk. Even among fighting games, if Street Fighter is the Mona Lisa, Mortal Kombat is a blacklight painting of a goblin sitting on a pile of skulls. Don't run from it - embrace it. Make it a goal. Make something people will remember, even if it's with a semi-ironic eyeroll.

Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.

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