MORTAL KOMBAT: REBIRTH
Considering my previous post, the timing of this video is serendipitous.
Video game movies arguably suffer the most from the attitude “Meh, it’s a video game movie, what do you expect?” We have yet to have a video game-based movie that treats the source material with the respect shown to novel adaptations. Comic book movies used to suffer under the same yoke, but in the last decade or so, some filmmakers have realized what I was talking about before: just because they’re comic book movies doesn’t mean they can’t be good movies.
Video games, sadly, are still caught in the catch-22. Filmmakers don’t take the movies seriously and the movies wind up shitty. Since the movies are shitty, they bomb. So filmmakers get it in their heads that a video game movie isn’t going to do well at the box office because it’s a video game movie, so they don’t bother to take it seriously. And round and round. (It looked like we might be able to break out of that cycle when Gore Verbinski was attached to BIOSHOCK, but alas.)
Which is why this video, titled MORTAL KOMBAT: REBIRTH, is pretty exciting.
The video is making the rounds of the blogosphere today. There’s a lot of speculation as to whether this is a well-made fan film or a producer’s pitch or what.
Me, I see the distinct hallmarks of an independent fan film. For one thing, a producer actually working the system in Hollywood would never release this to YouTube; not before the project was greenlit. For another, it’s clearly made to cater to fans, which I think makes it clear that it was made by fans.
Other than a few VFX shots that would be perfectly possible for a single (talented) VFX artist to pull off in a couple weeks, it’s not actually an expensive movie. It looks expensive — they got a solid DP, seem to have picked up Magic Bullet Mojo, and otherwise spent money wisely — but under the hood, it isn’t something that would actually cost much to shoot, assuming everyone worked lo/no/deferred. I’m sure they hope that this will lead to open doors and money being thrown at them hand-over-fist to make the feature version — that’s usually why people make these (see also: BATMAN: DEAD END) — but based on my experience in fan films, I’m fairly certain that there’s no such deal in place as of this writing.
This is not to say that I think this makes it bad. On the contrary, I think the fact that people outside the fan film culture can’t tell which this is is a testament to what a great job they did here. And while I don’t necessarily agree with some of the choices they made design-wise (Baraka is kind of a WTF), what I love is that they’re trying.
They’re putting in the effort to envision a movie based on a video game that doesn’t act like a video game movie. That appeals to the fans without pandering to them. They’re trying to make THE DARK KNIGHT and not BATMAN & ROBIN. Just like Nolan did — he didn’t take inspiration from “comic book movies,” he took inspiration from BLADE RUNNER and HEAT. In the same vein, MK:R has a strong SE7EN vibe to it. Even if a feature version never comes together, I have high hopes that at the very least this will get the wheels turning and help people realize “Wait, a movie based on a video game doesn’t have to be stupid and cartoony? Hmmmm.”
I don’t know if this would be a great movie, but it looks like it’d be pretty fucking good. Certainly better — or at the very least, far more interesting — than previous offerings in the genre. It would be easy to say “Nobody expects a MORTAL KOMBAT movie to be well-made.” And you’d be right. But this one was anyway, and no one’s complaining.