To those looking for something a bit different in their Mortal Kombat viewing, the third installment in WB’s animated film series may be just what the Elder Gods ordered. This entry isn’t going to work for everyone, but Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind takes its core concept and lets loose, paying homage to some other classics and giving hardcore fans a violent joyride along the way.
Here we have an interesting take on an Elseworld-style tale for the universe — one that uses a specific arcade ending from Mortal Kombat 11 as a starting prompt: Kano’s, of all people. The setting is an apocalyptic wasteland, similar to the Old Man Logan comic, mixed with other traditional Westerns, a dash of Aladdin, and the violence we’ve all come to expect from the franchise. This Legends installment doesn’t seem to connect with the previous two, and for once, the script doesn’t try to bite off more than it can chew, keeping the scope smaller but raising the overall gore.
One of the best aspects of Snow Blind is its cast of characters and the terrific voice acting that backs them up. The title tells us who the main two protagonists are — which makes me wonder how many names they threw at the wall here — with Sub-Zero assuming the role of the old worn mentor and Kenshi the brash upstart who is (momentarily, at least) seeking revenge.
This feels like taking one of the proven pillars and putting them with a character that hasn’t quite caught on yet, but the rest of the roster is almost as inspiring. Older favorites like Kabal and Shang Tsung, mixed with some new names, such as Erron Black and Ferra/Torr. Since the Black Dragon is finally getting some love, we see Tremor, No Face, and Kira. Sadly, that also means viewers get Jarek and Kobra, but we always need some good fodder to burn through and not feel bad about.
Speaking of, King Kano is the main villain in this story, and he is kind of a treat. In several forms of Mortal Kombat media, he’s looked upon as a bit of a joke — comic relief even — and that’s sad, because someone who would knife their own mother just to get ahead deserves time in the spotlight. Knowing his Mortal Kombat 11 ending gives a bit more to the story, but just seeing him in this makes the Australian mercenary funny, easy to hate, and, more importantly, a threat. His subordinates are scared of him, he’s quick on the trigger, and a few people find out the hard way that Kano has a major ace up his sleeve.
Combine that characterization with the very different version of Sub-Zero we see: someone who is so far away from his status as Grand Master that he is almost afraid of his power and has given up the fight. It creates a vastly different dynamic from what we are used to that will either pique fans’ interests or possibly turn some away. There are a few other situations which challenge that norm in neat ways. This movie certainly embraces the newer games in the series, but the cameos and realizations cater to the hardcore fans.
The other added adversary in this apocalyptic world is the revenants, which have become a staple of Mortal Kombat lore in the past few entries. They only play into the flashbacks here and there is an explanation for why the wraiths operate how they do, but many fans are going to ask for more of this aspect of the world. Considering how they’re set up, it makes sense that these dead warriors weren’t needed for the ending, but there may have been some missed opportunities there as well.
I enjoyed the ending in Snow Blind much more than what was attempted in Battle of the Realms. Not only does it feel more concise and work off of situations directly from the games, but it also didn’t feel as rushed. This isn’t to say it was perfect — I had several questions about why the characters didn’t attempt to fix more than just removing the magical McGuffin — but that felt more like the writers wanting to leave open a tease for more. A fan-favorite character is inserted at the end that was most likely not needed, but I get why they were thrown in and it didn’t feel too forced. Still, this movie doesn’t need a follow-up and, for once, I would have been okay with the more ambiguous ending, similar to Mortal Kombat 11’s initial finale.
Being a Mortal Kombat property, it’s important that the fights are engaging. I’m happy to say that Snow Blind delivers with the animated choreography. Most of the fights are exciting to watch, but I have to give a special nod to Shang Tsung versus King Kano, which felt enthralling and creative for the two opposing forces.
The animation this time around is still great to watch, but overall, it feels weaker than the last two films. Some parts look spectacular, but there appears to be more re-used footage and small bits that just aren’t as smooth in comparison. Some of the lighting is great, but the backgrounds could have been better, and mixing a few more colors would have helped. There’s also more CGI this time around and while that isn’t necessarily bad, it took me out of the action a couple of times. A lighter touch with this would have been perfect, but as it is, in a couple of spots it feels like an extra layer that should have been left off. At least at the end, the CGI portion is supposed to feel other-worldly, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have been pulled back some.
Snow Blind held up on a second viewing and is one I plan on visiting again, but it’s hard not to think that this outing won’t hit as well for casual fans or those who don’t appreciate the apocalyptic western genre. I’m a fan of telling different stories, giving us alternative takes on the Mortal Kombat lore, or expanding on characters that are never going to get the love they need in the games. In that regard especially, I love what Snow Blind did and hope we get more.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7.5 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.