Blu-ray Review: Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms
Written by: Jeremy Adams
Starring: Joel McHale, Jennifer Carpenter, Jordan Rodrigues, Patrick Seitz, Artt Butler, Robin Atkin Downes, Dave B. Mitchell
Reviewed by: Eric Joseph
Thanks go to WB for the free review copy.
“Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms picks up shortly after the explosive finale of Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, the 2020 blockbuster hit that initiated these animated films – which are based on one of the most popular videogame franchises in history. In Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, our team of heroes are besieged by the enemy forces of Shao Kahn – forcing Raiden and his group of warriors into a deal to compete in a final Mortal Kombat that will determine the fate of the realms. Now our heroes must travel to Outworld in order to defend Earthrealm and, simultaneously, Scorpion must find the ancient Kamidogu before it’s used to resurrect the One Being – which would mean certain destruction of all things in the universe. Time is short and the stakes are high in this action-packed continuation of the Mortal Kombat journey.”
To say this past spring’s live action Mortal Kombat reboot was a massive letdown would be an understatement. Listing the reasons why would defeat the purpose of this review, so I’ll just say that the animated Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms came as quite the palette cleanser. At least one MK movie rolling out in 2021 doesn’t suck!
Admittedly, I thought last year’s animated predecessor, Scorpion’s Revenge, was alright at best, so I’m pleased to say this sequel surpassed it in my eyes. Battle of the Realms flows better, despite juggling so many plot elements. Think of it as an adaptation of Mortal Kombat II, with elements from MK 3 and 4 thrown in as well.
Speaking of which, I think one of the major drawing points of this flick is the material it adapts. While there have been several adaptations of Mortal Kombat 1 across so many forms of media, I’ve long yearned for something like this. Heck, even 1997’s Annihilation was technically a loose adaptation of Mortal Kombat 3, effectively skipping a chapter in a sense.
Another drawing point for me is that of featuring Shao Kahn as the main villain. I readily admit that he’s my favorite baddie in this universe, and it’s a treat to see him unleash his own brand of destruction in the fighting arena. He’s more than just a final boss.
Aside from the Emperor of Outworld, you’ll see the likes of The Mad God Shinnok carry out his evil machinations, in addition to the story of Sub-Zero and Scorpion continuing to unfold and run parallel to the main tournament. And when I say Sub-Zero, I mean the guy who debuted in MK II and has appeared in each video game since. You know, the good guy. Unfortunately, there’s no Noob Saibot to be found.
But if anyone steals the show, it’s most assuredly Joel McHale as Johnny Cage. He was good in the previous film, sure, but he seemed even more comfortable in his voiceover role here. His quips are hilarious, not to mention his delivery being nothing short of perfect. I loved every moment he occupied the screen.
When it comes to bonus features, there are three short featurettes available for consumption. Each are rather enjoyable, but like I said, short. I wish there had been some sort of meaty documentary, like a “History of Mortal Kombat,” but no dice.
As was the case with Scorpion’s Revenge, Battle of the Realms‘ ultraviolence and voice acting can get a bit over the top at times. Maybe it’s because I’m now used to it after investing in this iteration that I’m not really going to complain much. Still, I had to bring up those points.
I guess if there’s anything I have to call out, it’s that the third act got unexpectedly weird. Yes, the tournament does reach its logical conclusion, but the two parallel stories converge in the form of a Kaiju battle. You read that right: a Kaiju battle. It felt out of place in a Mortal Kombat film in the eyes of this critic, although it’s in no way a deal breaker. I’m sure a segment of the audience will wind up digging it, but it just didn’t jibe with my Mortal Kombat sensibilities.
For my money, Battle of the Realms is the best Mortal Kombat movie of any sort since the live action original from 1995. I really dug it, and I hope this isn’t the end. There’s so much lore to be tapped from the video games, that there could easily be several more animated outings. Why stop now, WB Animation?