Anytime a new movie based on a video game is released we hear the same debate, What’s the Best Video Game Movie of all time? Last Friday, Mortal Kombat (2021) was released to the public on HBO Max and in movie theaters. People have been talking about this movie non-stop.
Ever since seeing the trailer for Mortal Kombat I knew I was going to watch it (especially since it was being released on HBO Max on day one). I did not watch it this past weekend, but since everyone kept talking about it I decided to watch it while working.
I created myVGBC.com to write about video games and games-related topics. Many games have been turned into movies and I wanted to create some sort of Video Game Movie Series of posts. My first thought was to go on a search for the greatest video game movie, but who cares which video game movies I like and don’t like. So, instead I will find out which Video Game movies are “Video Game Ass Movies” and which are just “Movies Based on Video Games.”
What qualifies as a VIDEO GAME ASS MOVIE?
A Video Game Ass Movie isn’t loosely based on a game. A Video Game Ass Movie may remind you of playing that game or being in that world. They may use specific phrases that resonate with the players of the game. Camera tricks can be used to feel like you’re playing the game (FPS-style in the DOOM movie from 2005 starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson).
A Video Game Ass Movie doesn’t just borrow small bits from the game’s story, it also captures the essence of that game. When you watch a Video Game Ass Movie you’re inspired to play that game and explore that world.
What qualifies as a MOVIE BASED ON A VIDEO GAME?
A Movie Based on a Video Game is just that. They take the smallest bits from a video game and turn it into a major motion picture. This tactic is often used with highly popular games (for instance, if someone were to make a Fortnite movie today). Although I don’t think I’ve watched the Angry Birds Movie (1 or 2), I’m pretty sure those would qualify under this category. The Angry Birds movies are now on my list of Video game movies to watch for this ongoing project.
A movie being based on a game doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Some games are solely about mechanics, but their story can be explored and even created by making a movie and that’s cool too. The insanely popular MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) DOTA 2 was made into an anime on Netflix recently and although the game doesn’t have much story to it there are still many characters and tons of lore to be explored.
What About GAMES BASED ON MOVIES?
There’s also a third category, but I don’t think I will mess around with that one and that’s “Games Based on Movies,” or licensed games. There are games that are directly based off of specific movies like The Lego Movie: The Game, Goldeneye 007, Spider-Man 2 (Video Game). There are also games that use those properties in creative ways Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game, The Mummy: Demastered, Alien: Isolation.
This would be an entirely different series altogether. So we’ll leave these out for now.
MORTAL KOMBAT: The Movie (Spoiler Free!)
After watching Mortal Kombat (2021) I can say that that was and may be one of the most Video Game Ass Movies I have ever seen. I haven’t played much of the latest Mortal Kombat entries (10 and 11), but now I plan to. I remember playing the original Mortal Kombat on the Super NES and I still own Mortal Kombat II (SNES), which I got to play the other day on my new Analogue SuperNT — but that’s for a later post.
The blood spatter (a term I learned from Dexter) in the movie is reminiscent of the old Mortal Kombat arcade games. There’s an exaggerated amount of blood that flies in all directions. When Mortal Kombat (the game) first came into our homes parents hated it and kids loved it. Both Nintendo and Sega had the blood cleaned up a bit from the arcade version. On the Super NES the blood became sweat and on the Sega Genesis the blood was cleaned out and a “blood code” had to be used to enable blood back into the game.
This movie did capture the essence of the Mortal Kombat games in a nice way. They had different styles of martial arts, lots blood and gore, and some sweet fatalities. Also, any time an older fighter was introduced on-screen I instantly knew who they were. It was some of the newer characters I had trouble recognizing. I got so excited to see Kabal who I remember playing in Mortal Kombat back in the day to kick some ass (or get my ass kicked). Even seeing Kabal do some teleportation made me think, Oh yeah, he can do that! He also had his signature hook swords, which also brought back many memoiries.
The movie had one-on-one fights in different stages just like the games. I thought they were going to show at least one of the fights in the classic Mortal Kombat side camera view, but they didn’t. I wasn’t expecting a timer or health meters or points, just a short shot like the one below.
As I said before, this is definitely a Video Game Ass Movie.
MORTAL KOMBAT: The Movie (Spoilers Included!)
I found this movie fun to watch. Would I watch it again? Yes, I did last night while writing this. I think they did put a cool story together, although we never had an official Mortal Kombat Tournament. Sure, they talked about it but did everything to avoid an actual fight tourney.
I do blame Shang Tsung and the Outworlders for the fighting tournament not happening. Since the start of the movie he sent Sub-Zero to find and execute any Earthrealm fighters to sabotage the tournament. The Outworlders then went to Raiden’s temple twice to also attempt to ruin the tournament (which was strictly against the rules). They are just a bunch of cheaters and that’s why the official tournament never happened. Cole and the Earth crew did eventually come up with a good plan for an unofficial tournament.
The movie has some clever moments from the Mortal Kombat game franchise. We saw some characters do their iconic moves: Liu Kang’s bicycle kick and fire dragon, Jax’s face smash, Kabal’s teleportation and hook swords, Sonya Blade’s neon blasters.
When I first saw Jax I knew it was him even though he still had his human arms. I also knew those arms had to go away real soon. What I didn’t know is that he would get baby robo-arms as a replacement (which made him look like a little T-Rex man). It wasn’t until he learned his true power that he received those real Jax arms and did some serious damage.
We also heard some iconic lines from the games from Scorpion’s “Get over here!” to Kung Lao’s “Flawless Victory.” We even saw and heard a few fatalities. There’s a part when Cole is fighting Goro and his daughter yells out, “Use your uppercut” which is an iconic and life-saving move in the games. Anytime your opponent is beating you down in some MK, if you just land an uppercut you can change the momentum of the fight.
Of course, there were some things I wasn’t so sure about. There was the whole no official tournament thing I already mentioned, although they found a way to make it unofficial. We also saw zero “babalities” (which were finishing moves in the game that turned your opponent into a cute baby version of themselves), which may have not fit into the movie, but it would have been cool to see a baby Kabal or Goro.
If you find yourself watching this movie and not really caring about it I would suggest you fast forward straight to the end battle in the frozen Sub-Zero gym. Whether this is a good or bad movie, it was all made worth it to watch Scorpion fight Sub-Zero (a fight many of us played multiple times in MK games).
They also had a great setup for the next movie — Mortal Kombat II: The Search for Johnny Cage (not an official title, but I think it works).
What’s Next for Video Game Ass Movies?
I will continue to watch and re-watch video games movies of the past, future and present to figure out which ones can be called A VIDEO GAME ASS MOVIE and which should be called MOVIES BASED ON A VIDEO GAME. I will aim to do this at least once a month, maybe more.
I already have a few movies in mind for my next posts.
I even own some of them.