After two weeks since any new major releases caught my attention and on Oscars weekend no less, we’ve got what in theory should be another big event popcorn flick in Mortal Kombat and a smaller sci-fi Netflix flick in Stowaway.
But first, a reminder of what my grading system for movies works like
- S Grade; 5.0 Stars: The Best Film I’ve Ever Seen, Everyone Has An S Graded Film
- A+/A- Grade; 4.0/4.5 Stars: One Of The Best Films Of The Year, If Not All-Time
- B+/B- Grade; 3.0/3.5 Stars: Worth A Trip To The Theatre For First Viewing
- C+/C- Grade; 2.0/2.5 Stars: Watch From Home For First Viewing
- D+/D- Grade; 1.0/1.5 Stars: Don’t Bother Watching This At All If You Can Help It
- F Grade; 0.5 Star: One Of The Worst Films Of All-Time
- Reminder: Reviews For These Films Can Change Over Time And Will Be Reflected Over At Our Letterboxd
With all that out of the way, lets get to the reviews already...
- The Plot: Washed-up MMA fighter Cole Young, unaware of his heritage, and hunted by Emperor Shang Tsung’s best warrior, Sub-Zero, seeks out and trains with Earth’s greatest champions as he prepares to stand against the enemies of Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe.
- The Review: I have to admit to not being a massive fan of this video game franchise but as someone who has been hoping for better video game inspired flicks, I do see the potential in this franchise transitioning to film better. Not that this is the first time that’s happened, two films were attempted during the nineties and they were…less than great in my humble opinion lets just say. But maybe this reboot at a time movie studios are offering bigger budgets for these sort of flicks would be better? So was it? Yes - but not significantly so.
The film’s biggest problem is its pacing, cutting from scene to scene so quickly that I feel at times like I’m getting rushed along so they could hit certain plot points. And yet the movie also takes time to slow things down a bit here or there when its not necessarily warranted. Too much of the film takes place in the same location, and characters seem to be there just to check off certain checkboxes, and while the acting is serviceable giving the material there is a lot of cringe involved here that will not work for many mainstream audiences. The best character of the whole film isn’t even suppose to be a featured protagonist and will steal the show only to have that character be ripped away from audiences late.
The film also makes the big mistake of being more of a prologue to planned sequels that may or may not come. It would have been better had it just let the film tell its own start, middle, and finish without feeling like we were just getting a big prequel.
Ultimately though the movie does deliver on the gore and action the franchise is known for, does try to give respect to the elements of the game with its plot points and Easter eggs, and does try to establish the possibility of sequels. Its a pretty standard not necessarily good, but not bad either video game movie that I would say if you have HBO Max just watch it on there rather than on the big screen. If don’t have it, unless you’re a big fan of the franchise who might like this more than I did, I’d say just wait to rent this in a few months. C+ for MORTAL KOMBAT. Not as bad as the first two attempts to adapt this, but not anything great either. There’s still room for improvement when it comes to putting this franchise to film.
- The Plot: A three-person crew on a mission to Mars faces an impossible choice when an unplanned passenger jeopardizes the lives of everyone on board.
- The Review: This feels like a movie that was first written up with great ambition of perhaps having GRAVITY aspirations. The cast chosen is commendable and Anna Kendrick as our lead protagonist does deliver her all in this. No one here is mailing it in and they elevate a frustratingly underwhelming story.
On paper there’s lots this film could have done better. We could have gotten more motivations from the characters, we could have gotten more action, the pacing could have just been a tad better, and we could have gotten even more conflict than we did. But what we got was a movie that seemed scared to take some chances, started off a bit rough before getting its crap together as it went along, paced a tad too slow at times, and gave us a very “huh?” sort of ending that could feel a bit disingenuous to some viewers.
But is this a bad film? No. I don’t think so. What this feels like is something that does underperform its potential but it also feels like an overall serviceable and commendable film you’d see at a film festival in the days before Netflix could just fund these. The acting is better than what these actors were given on paper, and as we get to the final climax the movie and its attempted messaging does get to a point you can understand and respect what it wants to do. And as “huh?” as the ending is, it is done in a way that I think makes it so that you can fill your own blank in which I always love from movies that take that chance.
Overall if this came out to the theatres I would honestly say it was worth it to watch for those who very interested in it, and I’d say it’d be an okay rental for those not in that much of a rush to see it. But thankfully Netflix has it available for no extra charge and you can watch it on there instead to make up your own mind. This was a decent flick, but I can’t say it’ll stick in my mind or be one I re-watch again. B- for STOWAWAY, could have been something really special had it had the balls to take a few more chances or add more context.