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If 21st century cinema has taught us anything, it’s that everything old is new again. We’ve watched as IP-driven blockbusters and nostalgia-trip remakes have dominated the box office over the past couple of decades.

Hollywood is a flat circle. We should never be surprised when a property from the past gets a shine-up and gets released onto a new generation of unsuspecting moviegoers.

So it is with “Mortal Kombat,” currently in theaters and available for streaming via HBO Max. Based on the iconic video game series of the same name and directed by first-timer Simon McQuoid, the film tries to breathe new cinematic life into the characters that have proved so popular for nearly three decades.

Tries and … sort of succeeds? But not really?

It’s a good faith effort, to be sure, but while we do get some narrative expansion, it proves to be awfully muddy and convoluted in ways that detract from the fundamental appeal of “Mortal Kombat.” By attempting to graft new characters and situations onto the already-extant foundation, we’re left with a film that can’t seem to get out of its own way. Yes, there’s some first-rate magical martial arts action – and a pleasantly surprising amount of visceral gore – but the clunkiness of the story development effectively caps the film’s potential.

Published in Movies
Monday, 23 November 2020 16:56

Monsters of the Midway – ‘Insert Coin’

For a lot of us, our tastes crystallize somewhat in our youth. That’s not to say that what we like doesn’t evolve – it absolutely does – so much as we retain a deep affection for those things that we loved at a certain age. The stuff we were into when we were 12, 13, 14 years old is cemented into us.

Think about it. The music you loved, the TV shows, the movies, the video games – you still have feelings for it all. The songs you can’t help but sing along to when they come on. Your favorite cast on “SNL.” The movies you can still quote by heart. The Nintendo or Sega games you could still beat in your sleep. It’s all still in there.

Now, this is all a long-winded way of saying that “Insert Coin,” the new documentary written and directed by Joshua Tsui, has captured a moment in time to which I personally am still very much connected. The film, which tells the story of the arcade renaissance of the early/mid-1990s through the lens of the legendary game-maker Midway, delves into a world that will look very familiar to my fellow late Gen X/early millennial peeps.

“Insert Coin” celebrates those heady days by speaking to many of the people who made it happen, the people who found a way to move with the times; instead of trying to push back against the blossoming world of console gaming, they found ways to turn the arcade experience into something that consoles of the time simply could not match.

Published in Tekk

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