Mortal Kombat (2021) – Movie Review

TL;DR – Gory, gruesome, and yet also just a ton of fun.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.

Mortal Kombat. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Mortal Kombat Review

When I was growing up, Mortal Kombat was this illicit thing that everyone knew about because the adults kept trying to get it banned. A baby Brian’s first experience with the Streisand Effect. So when you got to play it, well, it was almost an act of defiance, which of course, added to its appeal. As time when on, it mostly faded from my radar, and the two past films did not help, well more the second, the first still had the banging soundtrack if nothing else. But when you hear that they are doing a remake holding nothing back … well, this is something you need to check out.

So to set the scene, we open in on 1617, Japan, at the house of Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his family. Hanzo is the Shirai Ryu ninja clan leader, and as such, his home is well protected from threats. However, one fateful day while he was out fetching water, Bi-Han (Joe Taslim) of the Lin Kuei assassins arrived and killed all the guards and Hanzo’s family. They fight, but Bi-Han uses his ice to win the day and stop the prophecy of Hanzo’s bloodline being Earth’s salvation. Well, almost, as Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) arrives, he hears a cry call out from the house, for a baby had been hidden away and was saved from the slaughter. Today, Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is just going about his life as an MMA fighter when that birthmark shaped like a dragon turns out to be a bigger deal than he ever thought.

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DOTA: Dragon’s Blood: Season One – TV Review

TL;DR –A little convoluted yet strangely compelling ride through the expanded lore of one of the most popular video games out there.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this series.

DOTA: Dragon’s Blood. Image Credit: Netflix.

DOTA: Dragon’s Blood Review

DOTA is one of those video games that I know, but I have never been able to get into, and that is not from a lack of trying. It is this phenomenon that I have watched from a distance with this odd curiosity. While the game itself feels like an impenetrable mess, there is a lot of style and intrigue going on, and I know that there is a whole lot of lore built into the game that could be good to explore.    

So to set the scene, we open with a huge info lore dump that you probably don’t need to understand fully. We then cut to the middle of a battle as many militiamen get ripped apart by a dragon that dives in and out of the ground. It is a losing conflict until Davion (Yuri Lowenthal), the Dragon Knight, enters the fray as his squire Bram (Josh Keaton) watches on. It is a glorious battle that dives in and out of the ground, and eventually, it is killed. It a moment of rejoicing. However, Frühling (Matthew Waterson), the captain of the guard, is less than pleased because an elder dragon still sleeps nearby, waiting to attack. But when he goes down into the lair of the best, he finds there is more terror there than he expected. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead. 

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Monster Hunter – Movie Review

TL;DR – This is a film dipped its toes into the weirdness, and I wished it had done a bomb dive of the highest platform into the weirdness instead    

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Warning – There is extensive use of strobe lighting effects

Disclosure – I paid to see this film.

Monster Hunter. Image Credit: Sony.

Monster Hunter Review

Alas, another video game adaptation bites the dust. I wish this were something I didn’t have to keep saying, but time after time we see that adapting a video game to the big screen is a difficult job and very few films can pull it off. In today’s entry into the list, we have a film that should get credit for adding elements of the gameplay into the film and then frame it around one of the most generic action films imaginable.

So to set the scene, in some desert on Earth (there are actual GPS location coordinates but I was not quick enough to jot them down, if you got them, please let me know) a military expedition is out exploring trying to discover what happened to another of their teams. The United Nations team is led by US Army Ranger Captain Natalie Artemis (Milla Jovovich), and they find the last position of Bravo Team just as a large sandstorm appears out of nowhere. As Alpha Team tries to outrun the storm, markers on the side of the road start flashing, and then the world falls out from underneath them. They wake up on some sand dunes that look nothing like where they left, which is about the point where Alpha Team comes under attack from things that lurk beneath.    

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Movie Review – Sonic the Hedgehog

TL;DR – Unfortunately this is a film that mostly falls flat in-between shout outs to Olive Garden.  
Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Review

For a long time, there has been a drive to find a great adaptation of a video game, and on the whole, the best we have gotten is mediocre. Well, today we look at a film that is trying to break through that history and alas it does not quite get there even though it is clear that all the cast is giving their all.  

So to set the scene, in a magical kingdom far away, there was a young blur bouncing across the green world with in-built loop-d-loops. His power is almost limitless, but that comes with danger and one day that danger comes home to roost. As they are attacked, Sonic’s (Ben Schwartz) adopted mother Longclaw (Donna Jay Fulks) helps him flee by giving him rings that allow him to jump from world to world keeping ahead of the kidnappers. Well, many years later, one of those jumps leads him landing on Earth where he watched the residents of Green Hills, Montana like the local sheriff Thomas Michael “Tom” Wachowski (James Marsden) go about their lives. All is good, until one day when he accidentally sets off an EMP, drawing danger in the form of Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) right to his door.

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Movie Review – NiNoKuni (Ni no Kuni/二ノ国)

TL;DR – A really good film up until the point it gets bogged down in its own worldbuilding   

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene

NiNoKuni (Ni no Kuni/二ノ国). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

It has been a long road trying to adapt video games to the big screen and so far there have not been many (if any) that have actually pulled it off. Some have got close and today we take a look at one that also is very close, even if it just does not quite get there.  

So to set the scene, in Japan, there are three good friends Kotona (Abby Trott), Haru (Alejandro Saab), and Yu (Max Mittelman). Kotona and Haru are a couple and Yu is the third wheel, but not really, though he is confined to a wheelchair after a childhood accident that killed his parents. Life is great, school is good, however, all is ripped apart when one-day Kotona realises that she is being stalked by a creep. Yu and Haru rush to help her but they are too late when they arrive a masked figure stabs Kotana with a weird blade. They rush to try and get her to a hospital when in the middle of the street they are ripped into another world and now Kotona is missing, their phones are compasses, and everything is different.

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Movie Review – Detective Pikachu (Pokémon: Detective Pikachu)

TL;DR – I had a smile on my face for the whole film, filled with joy and heart.     

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Detective Pikachu (Pokémon: Detective Pikachu). Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Review

Before we start I should mention that I am probably the easiest sell when it comes to a live action Pokémon movie. I grew up with the show and the video games, so this is honestly the perfect setting for me if you want to hit that rose-tinted nostalgia that people in the industry crave. With this in mind, I walked into the cinemas with a sceptical mind, but I have to say it got caught up in the world almost instantly.

So to set the scene, we open in on Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), there was a time long ago when he wanted to be a Pokémon trainer, but that time has passed and now he is happy being an insurance claims adjuster (which I think they chose because it sounds like the most boring job in the world if you were a child … or adult). His best friend Jack (Karan Soni) is about to leave town to be a Pokémon trainer and he fears for his friend being left all alone, so they try and catch a Cubone, this way he will have a companion. After that all falls apart they walk back into town only to discover Tim has several missed messages from Detective Hideo Yoshida (Ken Watanabe) from Ryme City where his dad works. There has been an accident and his father has been killed in the line of duty and Tim needs to come to the city to settle his affairs. However, when he arrives he finds someone lurking in his dad’s apartment, a Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) that only he can understand.

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Movie Review – Rampage

TL;DR – Rampage knows what it is and leans into it hard, with giant monsters crashing into buildings and Dwayne Johnson being his charismatic best

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Rampage

Review

Now, this is the point at the start of the review where I talk about how there has never been a great movie adaption of a video game so far, and I talk about the problems about adapting and trot out examples like Assassin’s Creed (see review) and Tomb Raider (see review). However, this time around I don’t think I have to do that because while this is by no means a masterpiece I think it is the first film to really crack that adaption puzzle or at least the one who has got the closest to it. With that in mind, today we are going to enter the realm of giant monsters crashing into buildings, and who doesn’t love a giant monsters crashing into buildings.

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Movie Review – Tomb Raider (2018)

TL;DR – A solid action flick, with a good homage to the titular video game, but it is not the golden gem the video game adaptation that is still eluding filmmakers

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene after the title card

Tomb Raider banner

Review

The elusive video game adaption, for years Hollywood has tried to crack that particular gem. While comic book films like The Avengers and unfilmable literary epics like Lord of the Rings have found their feet, video game adaptations have remained just out of reach for the industry. In this battle, we have had disasters like Super Mario Bros. and close-but-no-cigar films like Warcraft. So today we have our first major attempt in a while to cross that divide … and it almost gets there.

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Movie Review – Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

TL;DR – Somewhere in here is a good movie, unfortunately, it is smothered in poor action, the need to jump cut eight times every second, and an entirely predictable story.

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Image Credit: Sony.

Review

So Hollywood has been on a bit of a bender recently bringing back franchises from the 2000s to give them another try. First, it was Underworld, then XXX, and now the granddaddy of them all (by a couple of months) Resident Evil. Now, of course, Resident Evil does have a bit more stability in its releases compared to the other two, but when in Rome, lump a bunch of stuff together to make it easier to analysis, so who am I to disagree. Honestly, I do have to say I did quite like the first two films in the series, the first Resident Evil had some iconic scenes, and the second really made the most out of its unfolding zombie apocalypse setting, you know before we got sick of that particular setting, thanks, Hollywood. However, since then the Resident Evil films have felt more like rehashes of each other, different movie, same themes, so I was actually quite excited when they named this next film ‘The Final Chapter’. I wanted to see them really go for it, take that final chapter mantra to heart, and knock it out of the park, but alas once again my optimistic nature has been dealt a blow.

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Movie Review – Assassin’s Creed

TL;DR – The best movie adaption of a video game, but that was not really a high bar to cross and Assassin’s Creed kind of just stumbles across it.

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Assassin’s Creed. Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Review

It is one of those weird things of Hollywood that no matter how many times they try, no one has made a decent adaptation of a video game into a movie. Now part of this has been that people have been adapting video games without understanding what there were, and also there are a lot of difficulties condensing a long interactive experience (sixteen hours for the first Assassin’s Creed game) into a two-hour passive movie. To the point where the most successful and critically acclaim versions of this genre Wreck-It Ralph & Tron used video games as just the backdrop for their story. This can be complicated even further as video games are big multi-billion dollar industry so if you’re making a film, you’re gonna want to franchise the heck out of it, the big problem with last year’s Warcraft (See Review). So within all this mess comes the Assassin’s Creed film, based on the incredibly popular series of games that has the fascinating caveat that you could set it at any point in human history. So how does it go, well for a video game adaptation movie, it goes quite well, for just a movie, it is a bit meh.

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