Please note. If you haven't seen Mortal Kombat: Legacy yet, the following may spoil a few surprises. So go watch them first on YouTube, okay? Go on, I'll wait.
Okay, ready? Good:
I'm all for expanding a universe. No, not this one, clearly that's beyond science. For now.
I'm talking the fictional kind, taking something known and giving it a new slant through other forms of media. It's been done numerous times before. Some work, some don't. Others are called movie flops (no offence to anyone who's seen Prince of Persia and liked it). Largely I enjoy them, especially ones that delve to a point where you never thought you'd see such a thing, certainly not within the original idea, and alter your perspective in the process.
The Dark Knight is a perfect example. The news shorts that doubled as prime time, current affairs style interviews with key players in the movie were an extra treat, as were the many company websites that were later vandalised by the Joker. You could say they weren't really required, most viewers care little for extra incentives, but there's a clear and precise market for it. The best kind of advertising for a product should be the one that goes beyond simply stating 'this product is cool' or throwing endless amounts of celebrities at you push it further.
Games have had their moments too. Remember the live action ads for Metroid Prime and Other M? Or the awesome animated rip on Mario Kart for Blur? ... Okay, maybe not, but I do, so that's all that matters. They're important points of reference, where an ad becomes a work of art, a slice of pop culture that fans can revel in.
So where does that leave Mortal Kombat Legacy? Maybe for this particular Australian market, we should care little for this mini-series, especially considering the prime product it's trying to advertise (to a degree) isn't even available here. That's a blog post for another day, safe to say an R rating is needed. Now.
As of this published article of elegant splendour (proudly sponsored by Apple, if for no reason other than this was typed on one), there are three episodes of the violent, gritty and overly Hollywoodish series that provide a sense of modern day back story to each main character from a franchise that really isn't dead yet. I do say that out of surprise since, out of all the 90's franchises still around, that's the one I least expected. There's only so much you can get out of a few fatalities, right?
Judging from reviews of the latest game, I guess I'm wrong.
But back to the web series. The short note: It's good, so far. Having an entire episode detail the down out and of poor little Johnny Cage is a key highlight, largely because it was so unexpected. The first two parts uploaded to much fanfare were a little underwhelming, to be honest. Fun, no doubt, but I was expecting more from them, especially following on from the high standard set from the leaked 'wing on a prayer' that was the teaser last year. That, by the way, was far more violent than anything seen in this so far.
Maybe it was the fact that the first episode spent half the time watching seven of nine in slow motion. Or that the fight between Jax and Kano wasn't a brutal affair that the video games are well known for. It just didn't click for me. Since all this is a prequel to MK, before most of these characters have all of their particular traits and signature looks, I can forgive all 'lacks of', like Kano's eye (besides, by the end of episode two they've made up for that rather well.) Still, I really wanted more, especially Stryker, if only to make him seem like a viable fighter I'd want to play as, for once. That, and I've met Tahmoh Penikett. He's cool.
And then Cage came along. The tongue in cheek, former Power Ranger (I chuckled at that one) needing one last pay cheque, pitching a reality show in order to become a hit again... a far better narrative than the stock standard action flick that came before it. I really did feel sorry for him, especially having to resort to cheesy one liners to try and win over the rather typical executives with an eye for a bigger prize. Whoever chose Matt Mullins to play Cage chose well, he fits the role perfectly both as an actor with the right look and the fighting chops to pull it off.
And I looked it up. He wasn't in Power Rangers despite the references, although he DID play a role in the similarly styled 'Kamen Rider', so there you go.
It's early days yet, but I'm liking this series so far. It's building up nicely, but the question remains whether they can pull off key characters Sub Zero and Scorpion without them coming off poorly conceived, much like the original movie versions. If they can at least be believable while also kicking all kinds of ass, I'll be relatively distracted by the lack of local Kombat. Some what. Or maybe not at all, I haven't decided yet.