MORTAL KOMBAT LEGENDS: BATTLE OF THE REALMS
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
Label: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Release Date: 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, Digital – August 31, 2021
Description: Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms picks up shortly after the explosive finale of Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, the 2020 blockbuster hit that initiated these animated films – which are based on one of the most popular videogame franchises in history. In Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, our team of heroes are besieged by the enemy forces of Shao Kahn – forcing Raiden and his group of warriors into a deal to compete in a final Mortal Kombat that will determine the fate of the realms. Now our heroes must travel to Outworld in order to defend Earthrealm and, simultaneously, Scorpion must find the ancient Kamidogu before it’s used to resurrect the One Being – which would mean certain destruction of all things in the universe. Time is short and the stakes are high in this action-packed continuation of the Mortal Kombat journey.
Joel McHale (Community, Stargirl) and Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) return to their lead roles as Hollywood star-turned-fighter Johnny Cage and all-business warrior Sonya Blade, respectively. Also returning for the sequel are Jordan Rodrigues (Lady Bird, The Fosters) as Liu Kang; Patrick Seitz (Mortal Kombat X, Aggretsuko, Naruto: Shippuden) as Scorpion & Hanzo Hasashi; Artt Butler (Her, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) as Shang Tsung & Cyrax; Robin Atkin Downes (The Strain, Batman: The Killing Joke) as Shinnok & Reiko; Dave B. Mitchell (Mortal Kombat 11, Call of Duty franchise) as Raiden, Kintaro & Sektor; Ikè Amadi (Mass Effect 3, Mortal Kombat 11) as Jax Briggs & One Being; Grey Griffin (The Loud House, Young Justice, Scooby-Doo franchise) as Kitana, Satoshi Hasashi & Mileena; and Fred Tatasciore (Robot Chicken, Family Guy) as Shao Kahn.
New to the Mortal Kombat Legends voice cast are Matthew Mercer (Critical Role, Justice Society: World War II) as Stryker & Smoke; Bayardo De Murguia (Tiny Pretty Things) as Sub-Zero/Kuai Liang; Matt Yang King (Mortal Kombat 11 video game, Justice League vs. The Fatal Five) as Kung Lao; Paul Nakauchi (Carmen Sandiego, Overwatch) as Lin Kuei Grandmaster; Emily O’Brien (Days of Our Lives, Constantine: City of Demons) as Jade; Debra Wilson (World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, MADtv) as D’Vorah.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is directed by Ethan Spaulding (Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, Batman: Assault on Arkham) from a script by Jeremy Adams (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II) and based on the videogame created by Ed Boon and John Tobias. Rick Morales (Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, Batman vs. Two-Face) is Producer. Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) is Producer. Executive Producer is Sam Register. Ed Boon (NetherRealm Studios) is Creative Consultant.
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital
-The God and the Dragon: Battling for Earthrealm (Featurette) – Go behind the scenes and inside the creative process of bringing Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms to action-packed life on screen.
-Voices of Kombat (Featurette) – Join Joel McHale, Jennifer Carpenter, and the cast as they detail the process of creating unique and compelling voices for the larger than life characters in the film.
-Kombat Gags: Gag Reel (Featurette) – Step inside the VO booth with the cast of the film for all of the flubbed lines and outrageously improvised lines from the cutting room floor.
–Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms Audio Commentary (Audio Only) – Producer Rick Morales and Screenwriter Jeremy Adams take the audience inside the art of writing and animating the film in this feature length audio commentary.
By James Harvey
Raising the stakes, expanding the cast, and delivering an impressive array of riveting (and exceptionally bloody) fisticuffs, Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is another strong animated feature based on the popular video game series. The sequel to 2020’s stellar Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge (and the second Mortal Kombat movie of 2021, following the April 2021 release of the live-action theatrical reboot), the entire cast and crew (and then some) return for the fun actioner which, despite perhaps biting off more than it can chew, absolutely delivers a knock-out punch.
Picking up where the previous Mortal Kombat Legends left off, the focus shifts from Scorpion to Liu Kang, who finds himself front and center in the fight against the enemy forces of Shao Kahn. Forced to compete in a final Mortal Kombat tournament, Earthrealm’s heroes travel to Outworld in order to defend their home while, simultaneously, Scorpion seeks the ancient Kamidogu before it’s used to bring about the end of the universe. Battle of the Realms is directed by Ethan Spaulding, who superbly handled Scorpion’s Revenge and pulls off the same clear effort here, with a script by also-returning scribe Jeremy Adams. While Adams’ script here might not be as strong as Scorpion’s Revenge, it’s a notable effort regardless.
Kicking things off with tense, gore-filled prologue – which offers a quick glimpse into Lui Kang’s origins – Battle of the Realms wastes no time soaking the screen in blood. Not only does the flashback establish the film’s focal character – just as the prologue in Scorpion’s Revenge‘s did with Hanzo Hasashi – but it also starts the ball rolling on Battle of the Realms‘ pretty packed (and sometimes undercooked) storyline. This movie jams an incredible amount of characters, show-stopping fisticuffs and a smorgasbord of nods and homages to Mortal Kombat’s extensive lore (even Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, believe it not). Fans of the franchise will definitely be pleased with a lot of what Battle of the Realms has to offer.
Spoilers will be kept to a minimum, as usual, as there are some surprises – especially in the third act, that are better left experiencing fresh.
And just what can fans expect? First, Battle of the Realms does not hold back when it comes to diving into the Mortal Kombat’s deep roster. The core cast from the first movie – Scorpion, Sonya Blade, Jax, Johnny Cage and Raiden – is joined by a host of new characters (and returning faces who have a larger role this time around), including Sub-Zero, Shao Khan, Kung Lao, Kitana, Stryker, Jade and a host of others. This being Mortal Kombat, however, it’s likely best not to get too attached for obvious reasons. Some folks don’t make it to the end credits and, geeze, some go out in some pretty shocking ways! There’s even a few surprise appearances – no spoilers, of course – that long-time fans of the franchise will enjoy, the result of the film’s jam-packed story.
Admittedly, while Scorpion’s Revenge juggled the action and plot with ease, here the efforts are a little more lop-sided. The action is incredible, and clearly drives the movie, but the story feels relegated to the passenger seat. That’s not to say the story is an afterthought here, it’s just not given the space needed. The first half flows fine for the most part, even with signs that the story needs some time to breathe. However, this becomes much more of an issue when the movie suddenly and awkwardly shifts into its ambitious but flawed third act. The plot points are all there, but the adequate time to develop each aren’t, sapping away the impact from some very dramatic plot developments. There is so much happening in Battle of the Realms, and it happens so fast, that it almost feels like we’re getting two movies smushed into one.
There’s plenty here that works, and it’s legitimately entertaining and thrilling to see so many well-known characters and nods from the Mortal Kombat universe both appear and play key roles, but the complex-though-underdeveloped plot hinders the film’s overall impact. Battle of the Realms would really benefited from a longer running time, or perhaps have it split into two parts (such as Warner Bros. Animation’s recent Batman: The Long Halloween two-part release, for example).
While the story has a bit of an uneven quality to it, the rest of Battle of the Realms is consistently top-notch. The animation is remarkably strong, even with the obvious budget limitations of Warner Bros. Animation’s direct-to-video titles. While movement is occasionally stiff or jerky, especially in the film’s rare quiet moments, overall the film looks eye-catching and at times stunning. Design work is slick, with every character looking sleek and instantly recognizable. The fight sequences are quick, energetic and riddled with neat visual flourishes – especially in the film’s climax – and they’re always legitimately exciting and engaging. Battle of the Realms unquestionably delivers when it comes to the over-the-top fisticuffs we’ve come to expect from the Mortal Kombat. It doesn’t hurt that the film’s excellent score by John Jennings Boyd and Eric V. Hachikian perfectly amps up the already intense action beats.
Also first-rate is the film’s voice cast, with Joel McHale once again stealing the show, perfectly cast as Johnny Cage. Jennifer Carpenter, voicing the tough-as-nail Sonya Blade, also stands out among the sizable cast, with some of her best moments coming from her work opposite McHale’s Cage. Jordan Rodrigues, voicing Kung Liu, also pulls out a solid performance, imbuing his character with the depth and emotion needed to anchor the film. Also deserving of a nod is Patrick Seitz as Scorpion/Hanzo Hasashi and Bayardo De Murguia as Sub-Zero/Kuai Liang, who both pull out some effective performances in their respective roles as rivals. The entire cast is solid, really, with every actor clearly having a blast with these fun, over-the-top roles.
Even though it might fall short of its Hanzo-centric forerunner, Battle of the Realms is a thoroughly enjoyable actioner which hits the ground running and doesn’t really stop. Sure, it might not be the smoothest journey, but it’s one definitely worth taking as there’s plenty here that’ll keep kombatants glued to the screen. The disjointed story might be a bit hard for some viewers to wrap their heads around – especially for those new to the tournament – but it works enough to keep the film’s momentum going until the final punch is thrown.
Once Battle of the Realms wraps, interested fans should give a peak to the accompanying bonus content included with the film’s home media release. The extra content includes “The God and the Dragon: Battling for Earthrealm,” “Voices of Kombat,” “Kombat Gags,” an audio commentary, and an assortment of trailers. Each featurette covers assorted aspects of Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms‘s production, and are actually fairly interesting despite the fluffy EPK nature of each. The audio commentary is the real stand-out among the bonus content, though, and it’s full of great tidbits covering the film’s production – such as unused ideas, easter eggs, material left on the cutting room floor, and much more. Adams and producer Rick Morales don’t hold back when discussing how Battle of the Realms came together, and the result is an informative and frequently hilarious listen. Available in multiple formats, for the best presentation, the 4K Ultra HD release is the one to beat, though both the Blu-ray and Digital editions are fine alternatives.
While it may not hit the heights achieved with Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is nevertheless an enjoyable (and absolutely savage) romp through the realms. The action remains as top-notch as ever, and the expanded roster this time around is a real treat, but there’s just too much story the film is trying to tell and the time isn’t there to do it all justice. But even if it doesn’t quite live up to the expectations set with Scorpion’s Revenge, Mortal Kombat fans will still find plenty to enjoy here without question. It’s may be not a flawless victory, but Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is unquestionably another winner in the burgeoning Mortal Kombat Legends animated movie series! Recommended!
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