Over the past several years, Warner Bros. has slowly been pushing a reboot of Mortal Kombat through development. They tested the waters with the successful web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy, and then set The Conjuring director James Wan as a producer for a feature film alongside Michael Clear for Atomic Monster, and Todd Garner and Jeremy Stein through their Broken Road banner. Greg Russo wrote the most recent draft of the script.
Now Variety reports that the studio has hired commercial director Simon McQuoid to helm the picture. There are no details on the plot, but for those who are unfamiliar with the games, they involve people who are sent to the mythical realm of Outworld where they must fight to the death. Those deaths tend to be somewhat gruesome.
Mortal Kombat was previously adapted into a film in 1995 by Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil), and while it had some kitschy value (“Those were $500 sunglasses, asshole,”) audiences didn’t return for the sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
Additionally, studios still haven’t cracked how to make a good video game movie. This year we’ve gotten three so far (The Angry Birds Movie, Ratchet & Clank, and Warcraft) with Assassin’s Creed on the horizon, but considering that movies based on video games have been going on for a couple decades now and there hasn’t been a single good one is a bit disconcerting.
Assassin’s Creed could break that trend, but video game movies pose two major problems. First, most AAA video games (the games that have IP studios want to turn into major motion pictures) don’t have strong narratives, so the studio is trying to figure out how to be faithful to something that doesn’t have a particularly strong story in the first place. Second, they tend to lack the immediacy of gameplay. While Twitch has taken off and proven there’s an audience of people who want to watch other people play video games, Twitch gives that audience interactivity and instant gratification. When the player fails, it’s real. Try to make a movie based on a video game, and you’re not only taking the controller out of the player’s hands, you’re removing the spontaneity as well.