The story mode in MK has been very good from 9 on, but it’s hardly a fair comparison. The MK story mode can get away with not caring at all if you know these characters because you’re probably not hopping on for the very first time, and even if you are you can just mash the skip button to get to the game part if you don’t like it. If you don’t want the story of an MK game, there’s still a game for you to care about. No matter how much you like the action of a movie, you can’t really just make 100 minutes of fight scenes with no connective tissue and call it a day. On top of that even cutting out all the gameplay, the cutscenes in those games alone is over two hours. You’re just not going to get that kind of breathing room for this kind of movie.
Spoilers for MK below:
MK is a movie that dies from a thousand weird little choices. The idea of Cole isn’t terrible in and of itself, it just doesn’t work as a part of the rest of the film. He is a chosen one because he is the descendent of Hanzo Hasashi, which fine I guess, but then Hanzo comes back from Netherealm anyway so frankly who cares? Mortal Kombat is a tournament, and there were nine before, but let’s not go into detail about those at all. Shang Tsung wants to invade and take over but he can’t because of the rules, yet he’s breaking the rules anyway so why bother? The fighters must unlock their secret arcana and there isn’t a moment to lose except for all the time that’s passed since the last tournament I guess. We spend half the movie dealing with what arcana are, why they matter, how you get them, but we just meet a guy in weird wannabe predator armor and he’s Kabal who knows Kano, no further explanation necessary. Jax’s arcana, a mystical magical power, is that he gets dope mechanical metal arms, right after he gets less dope mechanical arms. Either these arcana work off a sick, twisted sense of humor or Jax was always going to get metal arms which is the world’s shittiest coincidence. It’s equally infuriating because Sonya Blade isn’t one of the special chosen and doesn’t become one until she kills Kano and takes his place, a rule that has not been established or even hinted at up until that point. They could have easily made Sonya a chosen one, let Jax not get an arcana, but then he gets awesome robot arms which allows him to fight despite that.
It was a decent way to spend a mindless 90+ minutes while I did other things. It was never going to be a masterpiece, but it could have been better. Maybe with a sequel and less table setting to get out of the way it can have a little more to work with.