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Mortal Kombat (2021) Review

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Mortal Kombat (2021)

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence & offensive language
Cast:
Lewis Tan as Cole Young
Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade
Josh Lawson as Kano
Tadanobu Asano as Lord Raiden
Mehcad Brooks as Jax
Ludi Lin as Liu Kang
Chin Han as Shang Tsung
Joe Taslim as Bi-Han/Sub-Zero
Hiroyuki Sanada as Hanzo Hasashi/Scorpion
Director: Simon McQuoid

Hunted by the fearsome warrior Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) finds sanctuary at the temple of Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano). Training with experienced fighters Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Kung Lao (Max Huang) and the rogue mercenary Kano (Josh Lawson), Cole prepares to stand with Earth’s greatest champions to take on the enemies from Outworld in a high-stakes battle for the universe.

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I have played Mortal Kombat 9, 10 and 11, I’m a fan of the series but I wasn’t confident in the upcoming live action adaptation. Video game movies aren’t known for succeeding that well, and although the Paul WS Anderson Mortal Kombat movie in 1995 was one of the better video game movies, I wasn’t sure that it would be anything beyond just okay. Despite the mixed reactions, I decided to check it out, and I’m glad I did. It had plenty of issues, but I had fun with it.

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Many people expected this already, but the story isn’t great. There are plenty of things that don’t make sense, there’s some conveniences, and there’s a ton of explosion that is given by multiple characters. However I was constantly entertained by what was going on that it didn’t really matter. The first act is introducing characters and the story, and the third act is the climax with a lot of fighting, the weaker link is the second act. During this the pacing suffers and the movie can drag quite a bit. In the movie, a tournament is coming that could decide the fate of earth, so the main characters have to prepare to be Earth’s champions for said tournament. In a sense, that means that this movie is a more of a setup to the coming tournament, which will actually happen in the sequel. It does mean that the climax of this movie does feel like it is missing something at the end, even if it is enjoyable. This movie definitely has sequel bait, however I’m actually interested in a sequel so I guess it works.

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Now about the tone. I can see some people saying that this movie has a dark take and is actively trying to avoid being cheesy. While it certainly is more serious than the 90s Mortal Kombat movies, I was constantly entertained for what it was. So many of the dialogue and moments were so cheesy and silly that it still felt reasonably self aware. There’s so many things that were here that were really silly and ridiculous that for most of the movie, I couldn’t take it seriously (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing). The one confusing aspect with regard to tone is with its opening scene. This scene is a flashback involving the character Scorpion, and it’s actually the best scene in the movie. It is dark in tone, it’s shot and performed greatly. It feels like a genuinely great martial arts movie with some fantasy elements. Then that scene ends, and the tone switches and doesn’t change again. It legit felt like a different director was brought in to do that scene, or that it was from a completely different movie entirely. So in a way that’s a positive and a negative. Mortal Kombat is pretty faithful to the video games they are based on, more so than the 90s film at least. There are plenty of references to the lore, the world and other characters that fans will recognise. There’s also moves, lines and other references which fans will really appreciate. There’s particularly a rather meta joke involving Liu Kang and Kano during a practice fight which I loved. If you’re not a Mortal Kombat fan you could probably still enjoy the movie but you won’t quite get the full experience that fans would have. Also it might just be me, but with some of the absurd things that happen in this movie I just thought that it was very typical for Mortal Kombat, which is why I was willing to go along with them.

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The acting for the most part isn’t great, but they are decent, and they were cast to almost near perfection. There’s a surprising amount of iconic Mortal Kombat characters in here, including Sonya Blade, Jax, Kung Lao, Liu Kang, Raiden, and Kano. The villains were also greatly done here with Kabal, Mileena, Kabal, Shang Tsung, and Sub Zero. This movie particularly did a great job of showcasing them, showing off their powers, fighting styles and overall characters and personalities greatly. The standouts out of all of the characters for me were Scorpion, Sub Zero, and Kano. Hiroyuki Sanada isn’t in the movie a ton as Scorpion, but the casting is great and he’s really good when on screen. Joe Taslim as Sub Zero is the closest thing to a main villain for this movie (even though Shang Tsung is really the big bad), and he was a great screen presence. Kano was the biggest surprise though. Josh Lawson is effortlessly entertaining, charismatic and hilarious in this role and a scene stealer for sure. Would love to see him in a Mortal Kombat sequel. There is just one issue with the actors and characters, that being Lewis Tan as the lead character Cole Young. Cole is actually an original character and not from the video games, which is fine if the filmmakers wanted to bring something new to the Mortal Kombat universe. However, he is really the audience surrogate character who is there to ask a whole lot of questions and has a lot of exposition dumped on him. Beyond Tan’s rather average performance, Cole is just not an interesting character. All there is to him is that he has a family he wants to defend, he has some hidden power with him which he discovers by the end, and that’s literally it. There is no other characteristic or personality trait that he has, and he especially suffers when just about every other character is at least memorable in some way.

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This movie is directed by Simon McQuoid. This is his first feature film, with his past work being from working on commercials. For a filmmaking debut, it’s decent enough. One thing that does hold the movie back a bit is that the budget is at $50 million which is pretty low for a blockbuster, especially one from Warner Bros. In some ways with the way things are shown, it does feel like a high budget fan film, but I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. People are here for fight and action scenes, and they absolutely deliver. They are violent, choreographed well, and energetic and exciting to watch. Speaking about violent, one of the notable differences between this and the 90s movies is the blood and gore, with this version having an R rating. The Mortal Kombat games are known for the over the top level of violence from the fighting and especially the fatalities. This movie has the freedom now to represent that on the big screen. At the same time, it was done with the right balance. It’s definitely a priority to include that, but it didn’t feel forced, and they also knew when to hold back, if only to space them out a bit. So people hoping for some brutal kills will be satisfied here. The visual effects aren’t that great (something brought down by the lower budget), but I thought they were good enough for this movie, especially the ice effects. Something that does bring down the action scenes a bit was the editing. Thankfully it wasn’t in a Taken 3 sort of way where it has 10 cuts within 4 seconds of an action scene. It was more like that sometimes it quickly cuts from one fight to another fight, it does this a bit too much and it just felt jarring. Benjamin Wallfisch composes the score, and while it isn’t as memorable or iconic as the music from the 90s movie, it still works well enough here.

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Mortal Kombat is not a great movie, I would not confidentially call it a good movie either. It’s a bit of a mess in many areas including the story and even some of the technical aspects. With that said, I enjoyed it quite a lot. The fight scenes are energetic and satisfying, the Mortal Kombat characters are portrayed well and enjoyable to watch, and the silliness really added to the whole experience. If you are a fan of Mortal Kombat, I do think that you’ll have some fun with this. If you aren’t a fan but enjoy action movies and don’t mind them being a bit messy, I think you’ll at least like some of it. I’m actually looking forward to a sequel, I just hope they learn the right lessons from this movie.

Silence (2016) Review

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silence

Time: 161 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and Cruelty
Cast
Andrew Garfield as Sebastião Rodrigues
Adam Driver as Francisco Garupe
Liam Neeson as Father Cristóvão Ferreira
Tadanobu Asano as The Interpreter
Ciarán Hinds as Father Alessandro Valignano
Issey Ogata as Inoue Masashige
Shinya Tsukamoto as Mokichi
Yoshi Oida as Ichizo
Yōsuke Kubozuka as Kichijiro
Director: Martin Scorsese

Silence tells the story of two Christian missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who face the ultimate test of faith when they travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson) at a time when Christianity was outlawed and their presence forbidden.

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Silence was one of my most anticipated films of 2016. Every time Martin Scorsese makes a film, I’m in, no matter what the premise. This film was actually a passion project of Scorsese’s, he wanted to make this movie for over 20 years. So I was definitely interested in what he had in store for us. Scorsese didn’t disappoint with Silence. This is a brutal, harsh and real movie about faith and the conflict that can be caused from it. With the complex story, flawless direction as well as the brutal performances, this is a fantastic movie.

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What I love about this movie is how complex it is. It doesn’t try to pick sides (Christianity or Budhism) or paint everything in black and white, it just allows the story to play out and its fascinating to see these people. The theme of faith is throughout the movie and it is fascinating, with the different ways characters see faith, to the way that their views change. This is particularly shown in the conversations. The screenplay is near perfect This movie is long, at around 2 hours 40 minutes. Now even though I felt the long length throughout the movie, I was completely invested in the story, my attention never wavering. The last 5-10 minutes however, I do think could’ve been better, the film could’ve been wrapped up a little faster. That’s probably my only problem with the movie however.

(L-R) Adam Driver as Father Garupe and Andrew Garfield as Father Sebastião Rodrigues the film SILENCE by Paramount Pictures, SharpSword Films, and AI Films

The performances in this film are amazing. Both Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver are great as these missionaries. Garfield particularly stands out, this is the best performance I’ve seen from him (though I haven’t seen Hacksaw Ridge yet). His character changes a lot in the movie, as seen in both the way he acts as well as the things he says and believes. His views on faith are one of the most interesting aspects to watch as it changes after he witnesses and experiences certain events. Liam Neeson is not in this movie a huge amount but he is great, very complex and interesting. The other supporting cast shouldn’t be overlooked. Yosuke Kubozuka is great as a bit of an ambigious character who pops up frequently throughout the movie (that’s all I’ll say). Also great is Issey Ogata as one of the Inquisitors that’s trying to remove Christianity from Japan. Like many of the characters, he is ambigious, he’s not portrayed as a one dimensional bad guy, he’s a lot more interesting.

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Martin Scorsese’s direction for Silence unsurprisingly is flawless. The cinematography was immaculate, every shot is framed perfectly, the way the camera moves always fits the moment. The locations also are beautiful and perfect, it feels like it’s right out of that time period and locations. This film in the technical department is perfect.

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Silence is hands down one of the best films of 2016. Unfortunately, this movie has been overlooked by many people. I will say that this movie is one that’s really only worth watching once, not because of the length, but because of the emotionally draining story. As long as you know what you’re getting into, I suggest watching this movie, it is well worth your time. The fantastic story, performances and direction are so well crafted that I guarantee that this movie will be looked back upon as possibly one of Scorsese’s best films, which is saying a lot.

Thor: The Dark World (2013) Review

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Thor The Dark World

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Natalie Portman as Jane Foster
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Anthony Hopkins as Odin
Christopher Eccleston as Malekith
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Algrim/Kurse
Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis
Ray Stevenson as Volstagg
Zachary Levi as Fandral
Tadanobu Asano as Hogun
Rene Russo as Frigga
Director: Alan Taylor

In ancient times, the gods of Asgard fought and won a war against an evil race known as the Dark Elves. The survivors were neutralized, and their ultimate weapon — the Aether — was buried in a secret location. Hundreds of years later, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) finds the Aether and becomes its host, forcing Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to bring her to Asgard before Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) captures her and uses the weapon to destroy the Nine Realms — including Earth.

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In some ways this film is better and worse than the first film. It does show more of Asgard and this movie also is starting to set up for Avengers: Inifinity Wars with an Infinity Stone playing a part in the story. However at the same time it has worse comic relief, a generic villain and not particularly any interesting style. The Dark World is still worth watching but when all things are considered, it is lesser as a movie compared to its superior predecessor.

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One of the biggest flaws of Thor was the film succeeded most when it was taking place on Asgard, but it was mostly set on Earth, which was fine was fine but it wasn’t as strong. Now, there is more of Asgard which I liked. The problem is while that’s good, the scenes that would cut back to Earth are often pointless and a lot of the time it was for comedic purposes, which leads me to the next flaw. The comic relief was worse and it’s starting to get a little annoying. The comic relief in the previous film wasn’t great but it was fine and didn’t distract too much from the movie. The Dark World however has more comic relief, more Kat Dennings and it gets very distracting from time to time.

FILE - This publicity photo released by Walt Disney Studios and Marvel shows Natalie Portman, left, as Jane Foster and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, in Marvel's "Thor: The Dark World." Disney is previewing several of the studio's upcoming live-action films for fans at the D23 Expo, Aug. 9-11, 2013, a three-day Disney extravaganza at the Anaheim Convention Center. "Thor: The Dark World," "Captain America: Winter Soldier," "Muppets Most Wanted," "Saving Mr. Banks" and "Tomorrowland" are just some of the movies that will be teased at a Saturday morning presentation. (AP Photo/Walt Disney Studios/Copyright Marvel, Jay Maidment, File)

Chris Hemsworth is Thor again and as usual he is great. Natalie Portman is once again good but I did feel like her character here was a little flat compared to her in the previous movie, which is saying a lot because she didn’t play a big part in that movie either. Tom Hiddleston returns as Loki and was by far the best part of the movie, Loki really does get much better as a character as the movies go on. It’s just a shame that he wasn’t in the movie that much. The weakest aspect for me is by far the villain Malekith, I’ve watched this movie 3 times now and I can’t remember you exactly he is. He’s just some guy who wants to destroy the world, making him one of the most forgettable villains I’ve seen in a movie.

"Marvel's Thor: The Dark World" L to R: Kurse (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) Ph: Film Frame © 2013 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2013 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

The action scenes were quite good and it’s worth noting that they are different from the original Thor. I liked the action in both of the movies but I did feel like something was missing from The Dark World, which I’ll get to in a second. An action scene I really liked was at the end, which involved a lot of portals. One complaint I have is that Asgard doesn’t look as grand as Kenneth Branagh did with the previous Thor. That movie looked massive and fascinating. Here, Asgard looked good but it wasn’t anything really special, it felt just like another Fantasy world. This also played a part in the action scenes, it looked good but not particularly special like how the original’s was.

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Thor: The Dark World does make some improvements over the original but it also gains some flaws at the same time. Although it was initially hard to say whether this movie or the original was the best Thor movie as both aren’t flawless movies which come with their positives, The Dark World did seem more flawed in comparison. Thor: Ragnarok, the third instalment in the Thor trilogy will be coming out in 2017 and I hope it manages to surpass its previous sequels because while these movies are decent and worth watching, they aren’t at the level of Iron Man or the solo Captain America movies.