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Mortal Kombat & Mortal Kombat Annihilation Review
By Justin “]{0MBAT” Deering on April 15th, 2011


Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat first hit theaters in 1995, and was widely regarded as the most successful videogame-to-movie adaptation at the time. In fact, it is still considered the greatest such film adaption by many, even today.

Let’s begin by talking about the quality of the main film.  Here is a synopsis:

Lord Rayden (Christopher Lambert) has rescued them, but he cannot fight for them. They – a martial artist, an action film star, a soldier – are the chosen three. And while the world’s fate rests on their shoulders, the rest of us can enjoy the thrills as they compete to save us all in the body-slamming, mystical-tinged, full-tilt spectacle of creatures and conflict that is Mortal Kombat. Paul Anderson (Resident Evil: Afterlife) directs this astonishing and trend-setting experience that showed how to turn a smash-hit video game into a movie smash. Cheer these intrepid three Kombatants – they’re fighting for you!

As is common with Blu-Ray discs, there is a bit of film grain present in the movie.  This is more noticeable in the outdoor scenes, especially during the daytime, but after a while you get used to it and can’t tell that it’s there any more.  This is an inherent feature in High-Def movies because of the increased resolution, which sharpens the entire picture including the film grain along with it.

The picture quality is a dramatic improvement over DVD.  You can discern much more detail on the Blu-Ray version of the film.  Through the magic of the pause button, I was able to read the back of the National Examiner (the newspaper that has “JOHNNY CAGE A FAKE” as its headline) and notice that horoscopes were written by real-life astrologer Wendy Hawks.  I was able to notice the skeletal husks in the background, when Shang Tsung has his first conversation with Goro.  Reptile is easier to pick out while he is invisible.  In short, the amount of details you are able to pick out when watching the film really lend to a new appreciation of the film.

The special effects still look great, even in high definition.  Sub-Zero’s freeze, Scorpion’s fire, and even Reptile’s... er... reptilian form all look as good as they ever did.

The 16:9 aspect ratio has been preserved for the Blu-Ray release.  In other words, this is the exact same ratio present for “Widescreen” DVD release.  A small note for those who are interested: When using the skip buttons to jump ahead to the next scene, they are also divided the same way as they were in the DVD.

Next, let’s talk about the language options.  You can listen to the film in English, Spanish, or French – a clear improvement over the US DVD release, which only featured English and French.  Fun trivia fact: Christopher Lambert did his own voiceover for the French track in his role as Rayden.

The subtitle options are English for the hearing impaired, as well as Spanish as French.  The subtitles have totally been redone since the DVD release, and are much more accurate now.  See a comparison of the subtitles from the DVD (on the left) and the Blu-Ray (to the right), below.

Since these were done with the hearing impaired in mind, events like [THUNDER RUMBLING] and [GRUNTING] are subtitled.

Finally, let’s take a look at the special features.  Included is a trailer for the film (standard fare).  Also included is a trailer for the new Mortal Kombat (2011) – something Warner Bros. has been including on a lot of their newest movie releases, such as Due Date.  Finally, they threw in Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins.  This was a wonderful choice because this animated adventure was never released on DVD (only VHS and laserdisc).  Not only is this a great piece of nostalgia for the older MK fans, but this will be the first time that a younger generation of fans will be exposed to this.

The Journey Begins is shown in standard definition, as there is presumably no high definition master copy in existence.  Also, the only audio track is English, though subtitles are present in English and Spanish (but not French).

The only disappointing thing here is that there weren’t more special features.  Longtime fans of the series are already aware that there were TV spots, and an audio commentary track (recorded by producer Larry Kasanoff and visual effects supervisor Alison Savitch), and multiple behind the scenes featurettes.


Download this clip in 1080p (Quicktime)

Click here to see a screenshot of Liu Kang vs. Kitana in DVD resolution
Click here to see a screenshot of Liu Kang vs. Kitana in Blu-Ray resolution


Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

Not much time will be as dedicated to Mortal Kombat: Annihilation due to there being less fan interest in the film.

A new era... but for whom? The Mortal Kombat victory in the Outworld was supposed to give rise to a generation of peace on Earth. But never trust the word of the fiendish and the power mad. They’ve opened the portals linking their dimension to ours, and Earth will be overwhelmed – if a gutsy band of human heroes doesn’t acquire new kombat skills that will crush Outworld’s imaginative array of bad-ass warrior creatures. John R. Leonetti, cinematographer of Mortal Kombat and 2010’s Piranha, directs the fighting fury of Mortal Kombat Annihilation. Smash evil!

Needless to say, the special effects are not quite up to par with the first film, so the Blu-Ray treatment doesn’t do quite as much for the viewer.

Mysteriously enough, there is no French subtitle or language option – only a choice between English and Spanish.  This is perplexing, because the U.S. DVD release of Annihilation featured French audio and subtitles (though not Spanish).

Again, more special features would be nice, as the only ones present on the Annihilation disc were the trailer for the movie and the trailer for upcoming game.  I know of several fans who have stated they would be willing to buy the movie again if the infamous deleted scene featuring Quan Chi would have appeared on the disc.

Overall I would have to say that, provided you have a good enough television set where you’ll be able to perceive the difference, shelling out the extra bucks for the Mortal Kombat movie on Blu-Ray is worth it.  The digital copy for your mobile device is a nice inclusion.  And, if you’re a PS3 owner, then this is an even better deal due to the inclusion of the Classic Jade costume.  Keep in mind that Warner Bros. has a site, DVD2Blu, that will allow you to trade-in your DVD’s and exchange them for Blu-Ray discs.  As of right now, WB will do this for 104 titles.  No word as of yet whether Mortal Kombat will be included, though we at Mortal Kombat Online will keep our eyes on the situation.


Download this clip in 1080p (Quicktime)

Click here to see a screenshot of Kahn’s invasion in DVD resolution
Click here to see a screenshot of Kahn's invasion in Blu-Ray resolution

These titles will be available April 19th, 2011 coinciding with the release of Mortal Kombat on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.  Order your own Blu-Ray copies of Mortal Kombat (Includes Free Exclusive Original Jade Character Costume Download) and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation today. Also, get the inside scoop on WB movie & DVD releases! Visit  www.wbreelnews.com  today.





* These movies were watched in 1080p using a Sony PlayStation 3 connected to a 46" Sony Bravia LED 3DTV through HDMI.

    
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