Friday, September 30, 2011

"Mortal Kombat" Opens the Fan-Film Pandora's Box

I'm of two minds about the new high-end breed of "fan films," i.e. unlicensed adaptations of properties made by professional-level filmmakers. A lot of them are good, a lot of them are bad, and I won't lie and say I wouldn't relish to opportunity to take a shot at one myself had I the resources... but I can understand the criticism that people at that level might be better served coming up with their own material; particularly since the not-so-secret "dream" behind a lot of such projects - getting hired to make the "real" thing - hasn't happened in any meaningful way yet.

Well, now it has. Warner Bros. liked Kevin Tancharoen's "Mortal Kombat: Rebirth" short (or, at least, the online reaction to it) so much that they brought him on to do the "Legacy" webseries... and now he's getting to helm the real thing - a feature-film "reboot" of the series.

Um... yeah?

I mean, good for him certainly, but I really, truly hated "Rebirth" - just the ultimate apotheosis of the "gritty realism" style of adaptation that I'm completely, utterly sick to fucking death of. Yes, fine, it was well-directed and it was nifty that he got "name" B-list actors to show up, but right around the point where Reptile - in the games a monster from another dimension - shows up as deformed serial-killer I checked the hell out. Fuck that shit. "Legacy" was marginally better, but never rose above "here are spot-on imitations of my favorite beats from recent genre-films but with Mortal Kombat guys in it."

I'm hoping, at least, that the film is NOT a continuation of either previous effort and actually tries to capture the games a little better - part of the reason I loved the recent game reboot was that it so enthusiastically embraced the Kung Fu meets metal album-cover in a halloween store feel of the original games, with absolutely zero effort made to cover up the high-camp insanity of the premise and characters. A movie of that, basically an ultra-gory "Big Trouble in Little China?" THAT I want to watch.

In any case, the bigger story here is that if/when this actually works out, "make fan-film, get hired" is going to REALLY take hold in the up-and-comer film world - get ready to see a lot of recent filmschool grads flooding YouTube with high-gloss takes on their favorite games and old cartoons hoping to catch a rights-holder's eye.

On a completely-unrelated note, anyone have a ballpark figure on what a photo-real CGI Bowser would cost?


Jabberwock Xeno said...

" photo-real CGI Bowser would cost?"


Techinally, none at all. The trick to making things photorealistic isn't actually modeling the 3d object, it;s the way light and the textures are done.

Yeah, it plays a part, but I could make a model of a realtivly simple thing, like a gun or building, and then a professional (Its a hobby of mine as of now, hopefully soon i'll be professional)to texture map, bump map, etc it, it would be ear photorealistic.

SirRosser said...

Call me "blithely optimistic," but despite the problems I see in this trailer, I would still see it as an improvement over the execrable Mortal Kombat: Annhihilation. I guess my question is this; would you rather have a horrifyingly bad previous effort, or a somewhat bland yet technically good remake? I'm serious here, I can't actually decide. What are your thoughts on it, Bob?

Anonymous said...

"I'm hoping, at least, that the film is NOT a continuation of either previous effort..."

Yeah, cause THAT'S what's going to happen. Being hired based off the 'gritty' re-imagining, he'll make the campy version instead. I don't suppose you allow rolleye smileys...

Look I get it. You're pissed the decision to go this route with the MK franchise has nothing to do with the games and everything to do with what's trending in movies nowadays, a textbook example of style over substance. But you're so busy being mad, you're forgetting that style over substance is all the MK franchise has ever been. It doesn't deserve respect this distaste calls for, for that matter neither do most of the other 'old school' videogames you want made into movies, at least with regards to narrative as it pertains to motion pictures. Zelda would be a shit LotR, Metroid would be a shit Aliens etc.

But you already knew that when you talked about this in your Big Picture video regarding Uncharted. And yet you still want these obviously poor narratives - which were created only for the barest of context for the gameplay - to be made into a feature length movie, THEN you have the gall to bitch about this...

Mads said...

photoreal CGI bowser, made and designet by a professional 3d artist? give him 20% of the profits. Otherwise, you're looking at between 1000$ and 5000$.

If you're willing to take a risk with an animation student somewhere, you can get it a lot cheaper of course..then maybe as low as 250$.

Of course, putting him in scenes is a whooole other deal. You'll need someone with access to heavy hardware and you'll need them to animate him every bit of the way...

yamato-0 said...

doujinshi artists have been making the transition to being professional manga-ka for years now. Aside from being western-based, how's this any different?

Elessar said...

I mostly agree with Anonymous (except Uncharted 2 had a HELL of a narrative, but that's neither here nor there). There are video game properties that deserve careful and respectful translations. Mortal Kombat? Not one of them. Never mind that the movie's standalone quality must trump how good a translation it is. Put it to you this way: If you switched names around and made MK: Rebirth it's own original property about serial killers and psychopaths kung-fu fighting, you'd be fucking psyched.

And how much would a CGI Bowser cost? Factoring in the critical and financial flop any Mario movie would be? Too much.

Chris said...

Portal would be the next in the same line of fan films

Graham said...

"On a completely-unrelated note, anyone have a ballpark figure on what a photo-real CGI Bowser would cost?"


Just find a picture of Dennis Hopper on Google Images and Photoshop it.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Mortal Kombat fan in the slightest, but I thought the shorts/trailers were pretty good for what they were worth.

Sure, dark, gritty and realistic have been done to death, but I think it works well for something as brutal as Mortal Kombat.

That's not what worries me.

Do you remember "9," the computer animated movie from two years ago? The director had one really good and popular short under his belt. He was then handed the keys to a feature-length adaption of said short.

The movie wasn't really bad, but it never really got past being "okay." It had a lot of style--much like the Mortal Kombat webseries--but, when stretched out to an hour and a half, the story became cliched and dull.

Combine that with what TV Tropes calls "Running the Asylum": "When a fictional franchise has lasted long enough to induct its fandom into the ranks of its professional creators, the same devotion that produces Fan Fic will emerge in the "canon" material."

...Yeah, my hopes for an awesome video game movie coming out of this aren't there yet.

isiman said...

well as confirmed by Tancharoen himself the movie will be R rated,so there is little hope this could work

Arturo said...

Johnny Cage = Jack Burton
Liu Kang = Wang Chi
Shang Tsung = Lo Pan
Sonya = Gracie
Raiden = Lightning

It's a good start

Anonymous said...

I think that video game adaptations are missing the point. Yes, alot of games (especially from the 80s/90s) took aspects of there favorite movies to add flavor, and fun to the experience. But we all fell in love with aspects, and plot points of the games that where also unique to those worlds.

I looked at the original Mortal Kombat film last night and while its a B movie at best, compared to other video game movies its at the top of the list. I liked the christopher lambert Raiden, the movie jhonny cage was half likable, and it was an overall fun ride...albeit a bit cheesy. But it was good cheese, the smelly kind that Europeans like to eat so much.

The thing i think that film did right, was it took out everything that was an obvious rip off like Raidens in-game appearance like the big trouble in Little china Raiden. Or Jhonny cage as a carbon copy Vandamme, and i never once heard Lui Kang go "WUUUTAHHH" ! Each match up was crafted in a character specific setting: subzero in cool a blue light corridor, scorpion in fiery pit, and reptile...fuck that was just a bad-ass fight lol. I mean, the really got into that fight, and how the martial artist actually moved like a reptile. I remember walking from that movie as a high schooler with my friends, talking about our favorite fights and moments. The awesome soundtrack didn't hurt either

Overall, i think they should take whats unique about the property and amplify that. Take whats obviously cheesy and cut it out. And add that hollywood polish that used to make movies so great such as great soundtrack, appropriate atmosphere, solid cinematography, and a guilt free approach to fun.

Gritty and dark is appropriate in some instances...but doing it with mortal kombat is Meh! Mortal Komabt was always bright splashes of red blood to me, but maybe thats the nostalgia talking.

Thats my opinion. I know im not as elegant with the way i say things movie bob, and my grammar must be a mess.But, I guess im just a regular guy who knows what he likes, and judging from the trailer i don't think i like where this is going.

Take it easy.