Warner Bros revives the “MORTAL KOMBAT” franchise of video-game movie adaptations and answers 30 years of gamer prayers by delivering an R-rated version of the gory martial-arts spectacle and its signature “fatality” finishers. Unfortunately, in doing so they managed to leave behind everything that previously made the series endearing (and enduring) beyond its quarter-muncher origins even where previous adaptations had to scale back on the bloodshed: The new film (while it admirably centers a diverse cast and highlights the distinctly Pan-Asian aesthetic and cultural roots of its myriad influences) buries a hardworking cast and some mildly-novel story potential under mounds of unnecessarily-confounding (and punishingly self-serious) “worldbuilding” and tedious plot machinery that wastes time answering questions no one asked about a plot that mightily resists making sense – all seemingly in the name of building to sequels and spinoffs that probably would’ve been better served by a functional first movie. Most bad video-game movies feel like watching someone play – “MORTAL KOMBAT” feels like having someone read you the instructions.

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