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I remember enjoying this a great deal when I saw it in the theater. It's certainly more faithful in many ways than the three videogame adaptations that preceded it, though it still changes a few details for the sake of simplification and storytelling. But watching it as an adult...it didn't hold up as well as I was hoping it would.
I guess I shouldn't really be surprised. It's directed by Paul WS Anderson (not to be confused with Paul Thomas Anderson, or Wes Anderson). He's had his hands in numerous videogame movies, having been responsible for directing, writing, and/or producing masterpieces such as AVP: Aliens Vs. Predator, DOA: Dead Or Alive, and all the Resident Evil movies. He's like the guy Uwe Boll aspires to be.
The strangest thing about the movie is how it goes out of its way to make all the main characters unlikeable. Sonya Blade spends the entire movie with a stick up her ass, Liu Kang spends most of the movie with his head up his ass, and Johnny Cage is just an ass. Though Cage ends up being somewhat likable despite attempts otherwise, due to his spoiled princess act being so entertaining.
Christopher Lambert's as Raiden is one of the highlights of the movie, but watching it as an adult it becomes painfully obvious how hard he's trying to make the weak script sound remotely passable. He does his best to act the part of the wise man, but none of his lines deliver any actual wisdom. At one point he tells Liu Kang: "I have nothing further to teach you." Which resulted in a laugh from me, because we hadn't seen him teach Liu Kang anything.
I also didn't remember Lambert delivering all his lines in a low, raspy voice that I think may have inspired Christian Bale's "Batman voice."
The only character I really liked was Kitana, because she was the only person who seemed to actually know what was going on. Unfortunately, she also had the least amount of screen time.The movie also introduces a brand new character by the name of Art Lean, who seems to have been created solely for the awkward purpose of being the requisite 90s action movie Black Guy Who Dies. The main characters seem just as outraged by his death, though their emotional reaction is apparently due to a scene that was cut that established more of a relationship between him and the others.
But the movie clearly isn't bothered with plot; roughly half of the running time is devoted to fight scenes. Which wouldn't be so bad if they were actually entertaining. Only the Scorpion Vs. Johnny Cage fight is memorable, and that's mostly because of those crazy lines of trees in the background.Anyways, the movie isn't completely awful. The music is definitely good -- I can't imagine anyone listening to the main theme and not getting pumped. The sets and cinematography are also well done. And...that's about it. Just the music,the sets, and the cinematography.
Which still makes it one of the better videogame movie adaptations.