Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, 2021
Directed by Ethan Spaulding
Starring the voice talents of Jordan Rodrigues, Jennifer Carpenter, Joel McHale, Grey Griffin, Patrick Seitz, Fred Tatasciore, Matthew Mercer, Debra Wilson, Emily O’Brien, Ike Amadi, Matthew Yang King, Bayardo De Murguia, Dave B. Mitchell, Artt Butler, Robin Atkin Downes and Paul Nakauchi.
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.
While many of the Mortal Kombat characters debuted on the big screen once again earlier this year, they return in animated form in the feature-length Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, the sequel to last year’s Scorpion’s Revenge. Where that film obviously focused on Scorpion, Battle of the Realms focuses more on Liu Kang and the defenders of Earth as they are challenged to one final Mortal Kombat. Overall Battle for the Realms is a well-animated, entertaining and fun feature that has many elements Mortal Kombat fans love about the franchise.
Picking up shortly after Scorpion’s Revenge from the same duo of director Ethan Spaulding and writer Jeremy Adams, Earthrealm’s heroes are fighting back against an invasion by Outworld’s emperor Shao Khan when he and the thunder god Raiden reach an agreement to hold one final Mortal Kombat to decide once and for all the fate of Earthrealm. Meanwhile, Scorpion escapes Hell and is hunted for a special object he carries as well as vengeance by the new Sub-Zero after his brother’s death even as a larger threat to all the realms looms over them.
A single Mortal Kombat game is stacked with a vast amount of characters and Battle for the Realms is no exception as Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, Raiden, Jax and others from Earth are featured prominently alongside Shao Khan, Kitana, Jade and Shang Tsung. And then on top of them you have Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Shinnok, Smoke and more. Despite the large cast, the film is pretty solidly focused on Liu Kang as he embraces his destiny as Earthrealm’s defender to defeat Shao Khan in battle. His arc is fairly strong even if it’s not given too much depth as he’s still confident in his abilities and purpose while he doubts them in a couple scenes. Kang is the heart of the story and easy to root for, made even stronger by Jordan Rodrigues’ performance.
The other character to get much of the focus is Scorpion, continuing his journey from the first film as he has to come to terms with his mistakes and how he was manipulated. He gets a few good character moments and his arc is interestingly paralleled with the new Sub-Zero as the desire for vengeance consumed them both. As one of if not the main face of the franchise, there are plenty of Scorpion moments that are sure to make fans of the character happy. Other characters to share the spotlight are Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade, continuing their bickering as Johnny keeps trying to woo Sonya through all the wrong ways and Joel McHale gets many laughs as the cocky actor-turned-fighter while Jennifer Carpenter gives a good balance of stoicism and openness in the bad-ass Sonya.
Other characters get their moments to shine, though their arcs are not as fleshed out due to the large cast. A couple characters make some drastic choices the film somewhat skims over to get to the next beat. It’s a result of there just being so many things going on as there’s the final Mortal Kombat, Scorpion’s quest, Sub-Zero’s vengeance and a couple other story points that tie them together. Battle of the Realms tries to balance each story out and for the most part it does reasonably well, but it still covers almost too much ground. By the climax everything converges, but not altogether neatly.
For a property like Mortal Kombat, though, the story is almost secondary as the fighting is what fans really play the games for and want to see in any film. The action is well animated, choreographed and very bloody as it doesn’t shy away from the gory fatalities the games are known for, especially in a couple memorable Mortal Kombat matches. Much like Scorpion’s Revenge, Battle of the Realms often uses the x-ray vision from the games to get a detailed look at the damage being inflicted to the organs and bones of a fighter. The x-ray aspect comes at the appropriate hits and the match-ups between most of the characters are exciting. The visuals throughout the film are well done, though the fact the Mortal Kombat matches take place in a single arena rather than travelling to different locations as the games do gets somewhat dull after a while, but other sequences and the climax make up for that aspect.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is an exciting and fun feature that feels tailor made for Mortal Kombat fans. The core characters the film focuses on get good moments and development, though others suffer in regard to the big choices they make not getting as much depth to them. The action and animation make up for any lacking story content with its choreography and violently bloody fights while the whole voice cast do well together and add to the fun. For those wanting a full Mortal Kombat experience, Battle of the Realms has largely got you covered.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.