Mortal Kombat: Legacy II and the concept of the webisode in general is one for the Youtube and iPhone generation. Broken down into ten minute segments or ‘episodes’, it’s something for you to watch in bite size servings. Maybe on a commute, on the train to work or on a break. This is fine, it’s a good idea and will work if handled properly. The problem is, here it isn’t handled properly at all, and I’m going to go ahead and blame Christopher Nolan. You see, director Kevin Tancharoen clearly is influenced by Nolan and his legacy of dejected, grim-faced exposition-riddled guff. That type of thing might be fine to many in a feature-length picture (not me, I saw through it), but it’s even worse when applied to this format, which is what Tancharoen is trying to do. It misses the mark, high on grim-faced angst and overwrought conversations, low on adrenaline. Legacy II is boring.
The series follows on from the rebooted first season, again not connected to either of the 1990’s movies. Raiden and Shang Tsung (again played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, but not connected to any theatrical canon) transport their respective teams to Outworld to do battle. It’s interesting that a hell of a lot of talking is done but very little ground is covered in terms of actual story. This harkens back to the old idea that doubling down on serious tone and tripling down on lines of dialogue will cover for an absent meaningful story. It’s called pretense. How do you spot it? When, at the end of a long-winded frowning conversation, the imagination still isn’t stimulated, when a point still hasn’t been made, despite time invested. This was Christopher Nolan’s great con on cinema, to mask his shitty premise with an avalanche of pretense.
It’s one thing to pull this kind of thing in cinema. It’s another to do it in a format that is designed to be briskly paced. This Mortal Kombat mini-series was always intended to be a taster for a supposed big-screen reboot, to whet the appetite and ‘kickstart’ interest and funding. It’s not doing a good job. Each ten minute episode (really little more than 8 minutes) features 7 minutes of talking – badly written talking, see above description of Nolanised pretense – then probably less than 1 minute of actual fighting. This is, quite frankly, a waste of our time. Especially because the fights themselves aren’t great. Short and mediocre. You really don’t give a damn who wins. You most certainly don’t give a damn about the sour angst that ‘builds up’ towards it.
Supposedly Tancharoen will direct a big screen reboot, scheduled for release in 2015. I’m not looking forward to it. I’ve had the taster, I want none of the main course.
REVIEW SCORE: 5/10