TUCSON, Ariz. — Awful movies are usually better when they take themselves seriously. The "Mortal Kombat" reboot is the exception.
Somber, soulless, and grim, the insipid video game adaptation can't even thrive at unintentional humor. While the effects are competent, the action is usually lively, and the fan service is abundantly all-encompassing, the writing is the cinematic equivalent of button-mashing.
For a movie based on a proudly sadistic and absurd game in which combatants whale on each other, there isn't even enough blood and guts to make the gross-out cut. And there is less reason to care about why everyone's slugging it out. You'll find more nuance and suspense in a pre-fight cutscene.
Those are what gamers usually skip over to get to the good stuff, but "Mortal Kombat" is just one long, unskippable slog with no payoff. Unknown actors engage in CGI-assisted paint jobs, bellowing corny lines in forced British accents.
When someone in a movie proclaims, "The prophecy is upon us!" you have a good idea of exactly what's in store.
Credit director Simon McQuoid for coaxing his cast into uttering lines like that with straight faces.
Opening in theaters and on HBO Max April 23, "Mortal Kombat" is a sad and dreary effort that will leave fans of the game series feeling burned and everyone else just confused or indifferent.
The film, which discards the 1995 and 1997 adaptations to reinvent the series, has been in some form of development for more than 10 years. It could have used another decade, or maybe another century.
At least the next time a "Mortal Kombat" film comes along, it's got nowhere to go but up.