RT Podcast

"Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong" About... Mortal Kombat (2021)

The beloved and fiendishly violent video game's new movie adaptation is splitting critics: But are they failing to see a flawless and fan-pleasing victory?

by | April 29, 2021 | Comments

Mortal Kombat

(Photo by © Warner Bros.)

Does a Mortal Kombat need a Mortal Kombat tournament? That was the question critics and audiences were left pondering after director Simon McQuoid’s new adaptation of the beloved video game franchise arrived in theaters and on HBO Max last weekend.

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The new movie has everything fans love from the games and was promised in its killer trailer – awesome characters, mind-blowing combat, jaw-dropping fatalities – with one minor exception. It tells the story of the lead up to the titular otherworldly tournament, rather than of the tournament itself, with soul-sucking Big Bad Shang Tsung sending Outworld’s finest fighters to kill Earthrealm’s chosen fighters before the Mortal Combat competition even begins.

As some noted: It’s a Mortal Kombat movie about trying to stop Mortal Kombat happening. But does it work?

Critics and audiences are split, with reviews lifting the movie’s Tomatometer score to 55%, which is just Rotten – and actually places it in the top four video game adaptations ever. So, more Friendship than fatality, if not quite a flawless victory. (Sorry, there’s going to be a lot of that.) Fans, on the other hand, seem to be loving what they see, forgiving some of the rushed storytelling and spotty acting because… whoa, how f—king cool are those Sub Zero fights!? The movie’s Audience Score is a very Fresh 87%.

In a bit of a departure for our podcast, Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong, where we usually look back at least a few years at a beloved/despised/divisive film, this week’s episode sees our hosts and mega Mortal Kombat fans, Jacqueline Coley and Mark Ellis, going deep on the new blockbuster. Joining them is another huge fan of the games, pop-culture expert and YouTube personality, Brian Tong. Together, they enter the arena to talk about which character stole the show, which fight slapped the hardest, and whether they’re pumped for the inevitable sequel… and eventual tournament.

Check in every Thursday for a new episode of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong (A Podcast From Rotten Tomatoes). Each week, hosts Jacqueline and Mark and guests go deep and settle the score on some of the most beloved – and despised – movies and TV shows ever made, directly taking on the statement we hear from so many fans: “Rotten Tomatoes is wrong.”

If you have a suggestion for a movie or show you think we should do an episode on, let us know in the comments, or email us at rtiswrong@rottentomatoes.com.

Meet the hosts

Jacqueline Coley is an editor at Rotten Tomatoes, with a focus on awards and indie coverage but with a passion for everything, from the MCU to musicals and period pieces. Coley is a regular moderator at conventions and other events, can be seen on Access Hollywood and other shows, and will not stand Constantine slander of any kind. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter: @THATjacqueline.

Mark Ellis is a comedian and contributing editor for Rotten Tomatoes. He currently hosts the Rotten Tomatoes series Versus, among others, and can be seen co-hosting the sports entertainment phenomenon Movie Trivia Schmoedown. His favorite Star Wars movie is Jedi (guess which one!), his favorite person is actually a dog (his beloved stepdaughter Mollie), and – thanks to this podcast – he’s about to watch Burlesque for the first time in his life. Follow Mark on Twitter: @markellislive.

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