Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is a proper Mortal-Kombatian animation that you can watch. It’s bloody, it has many fight scenes, and of course, there are fatalities.
*This review spoils the story of Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms.*
We saw the first Mortal Kombat Legends last year entitled Scorpion’s Revenge. It told the story of Hanzo Hasashi, aka Scorpion. I did not expect it to be that good, but it surprised me and turned out to be the best-produced feature based on the Mortal Kombat video games.
This year we had the Mortal Kombat movie directed by Simon McQuoid. Like many others, I didn’t like the film, and it was not even as exciting as Scorpion’s Revenge or the Mortal Kombat games.
Fortunately, this year we also got the second installment of Mortal Kombat Legends, entitled Battle of the Realms. It was quite a remedy to what the Mortal Kombat movie did to me. Personally, Battle of the Realms is my 2021 Mortal Kombat. It stayed faithful to the video games on every term.
The story of Battle of the Realms is about the final tournament of Mortal Kombat, which will end the conflict between realms forever. Lord Raiden and Shao Kahn decide to ask the Elder Gods to start a final Mortal Kombat tournament. We saw many familiar faces from Mortal Kombat games, primarily the main characters. It is based chiefly on Mortal Kombat, which was released in 2011.
The story itself is pretty well written and has a very accurate pace. Battle of the Realms doesn’t give you much talking and chatting, and it is not a non-stop action animation either. The thing about animations or movies like Mortal Kombat is that the writer needs to understand what viewers want. No one watches a Mortal Kombat feature to get lectured by the writer and director about morality.
Jeremy Adams, who wrote the Battle of the Realms script, did one hell of a job to balance the animation’s action and drama. The drama in movies like Mortal Kombat is a break from one action sequence to another. The tricky part is that it needs to be dramatic but not that deep to turn off the fun mode of the film.
As much as the story is well-written, the characters’ arcs are bad. You cannot connect that much with the characters unless you’ve played Mortal Kombat games and understand each character’s background. I do not expect to see every character’s background deeply, but it would have been better if we saw a little bit more about Liu Kang or Lord Raiden.
In the Mortal Kombat games, we see the character’s background through flashbacks or simple conversation. But in Battle of the Realms, if you do not know the characters, you’ll have trouble connecting with these people.
Johnny Cage, voiced by Joel McHale, is the top-notch character of Battle of the Realms. This guy’s sense of humor did a great job not letting the animation turn into a dead saving-the-world severe drama.
The best and most important part of the game is, of course, its action sequences. The fun part of Mortal Kombat is that you control the characters and fight. But when you turn that kind of game into a movie, you exchange the active part into a passive one. Not many people can make a film or animation to be as close as its video game.
Mortal Kombat Legends found a way to be as engaging as the video games. The thing with fighting games is that you cannot be artistic about the camera angle. But in films, you can change that, as well as the speed of actions. Due to its unrestricted physics, it has more freedom to do crazier things, which you cannot do in a video game.
There are many familiar moves from characters in Battle of the Realm, and there are, of course, the infamous fatalities. But they did a great job not focusing too much on them or making a big deal of it, as they did in the Mortal Kombat movies. These things are glorious to us, but not the character who does them regularly.
My main problem with Battle of the Realm is the last 20 minutes. Shinnok becomes the One Being, and Liu Kang becomes the dragon and fights. All the realms intertwine because of Shinnok and get fixed again by Liu Kang. It would be much better if they told this story in a more detailed fashion in another installment.
All these important and dangerous things happen in just 20 minutes. Not only is it not enough, but it shows how much it’s not essential. It’s a simple rule in writing. You put more time and detail into things that matter. It also had the potential to be turned into another animation.
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Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is an actual Mortal Kombat film that anyone can enjoy, but its fans will do more. It has a decent story that fans will be familiar with if they had played Mortal Kombat, but the characterization is not as good as it should have been. The action and fighting sequences are top-notch and couldn’t be any better. The ending should have been more detailed or turned into another whole installment.