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Mortal Kombat Movies Reviews

Retro Sci-Fi Review: Mortal Kombat (1995)

Directed by Paul Anderson. Written by Kevin Droney. Starring Christopher Lambert (Raiden), Bridgette Wilson (Sonya Blade), Robin Shou (Liu Kang), and Linden Ashby (Johnny Cage).

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #12

This week, the new Mortal Kombat movie releases on Friday in theaters and on HBO Max. So, to prepare for this new outing, let’s take a look back at the two Mortal Kombat theatrical releases from the 1990’s. We’re going to begin with Mortal Kombat, which was released in 1995. It’s hard for me to believe that this film was released over 25 years ago. Does this film live up to the excitement as the games did that were released at this time?

Mortal Kombat focuses on three martial artists–Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, and Liu Kang–who enter the Mortal Kombat tournament. The tournament has been won for 9 years straight by Shang Tsung and his fighters. If Shang Tsung wins another tournament, the world and alternate dimension of Outworld will take over the Earth. Liu Kang and his fellow heroes have to win the tournament against Shang Tsung in order to save the Earth.

Johnny Cage.

Mortal Kombat’s soundtrack is a beast. It has an iconic anthem that has been remembered through the years. The anthem is a dance number that will pick up your spirits for sure. The dance track kicks off the movie, so it helps to get you excited for what’s to come. The soundtrack is menacing when it needs to be. An example is when Johnny Cage fights Scorpion as a heavy, metal guitar blisters in the background as the two fight in a hell-inspired arena. It puts an emphasis that each hero is in a fight for their life.

The special effects are great for this fighting flick, though they have aged a bit. The fatalities are brutal, yet somewhat tame. They kept the violence from being too gruesome in order to maintain a PG-13 rating, so they could sell more tickets to a larger audience. An example of the special effects being great is when the audience sees Shang Tsung morph from one person back to himself. It’s neatly executed. However, there’s bad computer animation in the movie, such as the first reveal of Reptile early in the film. His non-human form looks horrible as well as goofy. I must admit that the creation of Goro for the film deserves the utmost respect. Goro’s suit is a combination of man and robotics. The bottom portion was controlled by a stuntman, while the top by puppeteers. The puppeteers helped to manuever the gigantic muscular arms and torso of the towering beast. Goro also had two voice actors who worked on his voice. One was for roars and one was for the deep, growling voice.

There’s nothing significant with the plot of this film. It’s straightforward and boring. However, the fight sequences and witty dialogue make the experience enjoyable. The fights are expertly choregraphed that features several amazing moves by expert martial artists. All of the fight sequences featuring the ninjas of Mortal Kombat are fun to watch. Reptile, Scorpion, and Sub-Zero all have fight scenes in the movie. There’s one minor detail of Scorpion’s that’s bad for him. His spear magically comes out of his hand, unlike what he actually does with the spear. He throws the spear in the game as a projectile weapon. In the film, it’s a snake-like creature that comes out of his hand. It’s goofy, but it does give Scorpion this otherworldly presence. The witty dialogue is mainly by Johnny Cage. Linden Ashby is clearly having fun with his role. His portrayal has inspired the MK franchise to keep Johnny Cage as the comedic relief of the games. Audiences will absolutely adore Ashby’s banter with Robin Shou and Bridgette Wilson.

Mortal Kombat is not a film to take too seriously like the franchise itself. Audiences need to go in ready for a cheesy, fun ride. In terms of story, it’s nothing special. The atmosphere and other aspects are what you’re here for. Give this flick a watch.

Overall rating: 3/5.

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Movies Reviews Spider-Man

Retro Sci-Fi Review: Spider-Man (2002)

Directed by Sam Raimi. Written by David Koepp. Starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe, and James Franco.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #11

Before this blog became The Number One Archives, it used to run under a different name. It used to be just me working alone on this blog. Occasionally, I will scroll through older posts that I did in the past. I noticed that there were a series of posts that I never finished. Today, I will finish the posts. The posts were about Sam Raimi’s superhero classic, Spider-Man (2002). After looking back, the posts were me giving summaries of the film while intoxicated. I remember that I was trying to have a movie marathon of the Holy Trilogy (original Spider-Man trilogy) two years ago. I watched the first two Spider-Man films, then I got sleepy so I never watched the third. I still plan on revisiting the third soon. Let’s talk about the first film.

If you haven’t seen the first film by now, shame on you. I will let younger audiences have a pass. They were probably raised in the Andrew Garfield/Tom Holland era more than likely. Tobey Maguire stars as Peter Parker, who is a high school student that gets bitten by a radioactive spider. The bite gifts Parker with powers, such as webbing, enhanced strength, enhanced agility, and spider-sense. After the murder of his beloved Uncle Ben, Parker adopts the moniker of Spider-Man and begins to fight the crime that took away his uncle. Spider-Man will get put to the test as the villain Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) rises to prominence with a pure hatred for the hero. Spider-Man will have to risk his life to protect those he loves from the grasp of the Goblin’s fingertips.

Sam Raimi does an amazing job of capturing the essence of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s work on Amazing Spider-Man. In the film, Peter Parker is a person that we all can relate to. He’s in high school with a few friends and a few bullies. Rosemary Harris (Aunt May) and Cliff Robertson (Uncle Ben) did a fantastic job of recreating that loving environment that Peter Parker had in the comics. Tobey Maguire’s charm that he has helps us to connect with the character and portray to us why the movie characters want to support Parker. He’s a good kid, who has these awful struggles.

The special effects are still great, though a few are starting to look dated. A majority of these effects are still fantastic because Raimi would use practical effects when he had the chance. Spider-Man’s web-slinging through New York still has that fluidity and acrobatic movement that is to admire. The fight scenes are brutal to this day, especially the final fight between Spider-Man and Green Goblin. Raimi manages to get violent as possible while being able to maintain the film’s PG-13 rating. All of the fight scenes are full of emotion as both hero and villain know each other personally.

Raimi does well blending the genres of science fiction and horror together. We get the science of Parker transforming into a hero to Norman Osborn/Green Goblin morphing into a super villain. In these transformation scenes, we get a sense of terror from Raimi’s direction. A prime example is the scene where Norman Osborn injects himself with drugs that make him into a super human. Dafoe goes absolutely absurd with his eyes rolled up in his head during the scene. It’s exciting, yet terrifying. A scene that will stick with you.

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man is a classic that’s still memorable in millions of minds across the world. It showed that Marvel could be a heavy hitter like they are now in cinema. The world was taken by storm in 2002 when this movie released. It now has inspired several Spider-Man films to follow its path. Be warned…this film induces the drug known as nostalgia.

Overall rating: 4/5.

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Movies Reviews

Sci-Fi Review: Geostorm (2017)

Directed by Dean Devlin. Written by Dean Devlin and Paul Guyot. Starring Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Andy Garcia, and Ed Harris.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #8

Geostorm is a disaster film that tries to be epic in its scale. Unfortunately, it falls flat. Gerard Butler stars as Jake Lawson, who’s a scientist that has crafted a satellite system that can control the weather on a global scale. The system, called “Dutch Boy,” was developed after the world was hit by several deadly storms that terrorized the planet. The weather system begins to go rogue and satellites start attacking the earth via the weather. Lawson has to figure out who caused the system to go haywire and why they caused the system to do so in order to save the world.

The writing is poorly done in Geostorm as the characters are uninteresting and one-dimensional. The performances by the actors lack any emotional depth. I couldn’t connect with Jake Lawson or any of the supporting cast. The filmmakers tried to craft a sibling rivalry between Jake Lawson and Max Lawson (Jim Sturgess). It’s a sibling rivalry that fails to catch any attention as Butler and Sturgess have no chemistry with one another. Since the film fails at connecting the audience to Jake Lawson, it makes it hard to care about the character saving the day or not. The film also struggles with its final act’s countdown sequence. It keeps showing a timer that lets the audience know when the geostorm will hit. The geostorm is literally happening when the timer is ticking down. It hits and destroys several cities during the timing sequence. The timer is utterly useless.

Another flaw of the film is the special effects. They’re poorly generated and crafted. There’s one sequence where the effects are horrendous, but it did manage to make me laugh. It’s when the geostorm is starting to take shape across the world. The film shows hail, the size of icebergs, hitting the earth. I laughed at the absolute absurdity of how it looked on-screen. It was like Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat having a reign of terror on the human population.

The film’s not a mystery like it aspires to be. It’s not hard to determine who is the cause of the problem. I took a guess at who it was in the beginning of the film and I was right by the end. The antagonist’s reason for triggering these storms is stupid and unnecessary. It’s the typical selfish reason of wanting to control the world.

Geostorm is a lazy attempt at making a sci-fi epic. It clearly draws inspiration from previous disaster flicks. There’s never a sense of true urgency in this film. When we can’t connect with the characters, we’re not gonna care. I wish a tornado would’ve blown my ass away while watching this.

Overall rating: 1.5/5.

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Movies

Sci-Fi Movie Release of the Week: Voyagers

Voyagers hits theaters today, April the 9th. The film focuses on a crew of women and men who go on a space expedition to colonize a planet. On the journey, these women and men give in to their primal urges. This causes the trip to spiral into a frightening mess. Some critics are calling this a sexual, space version of Lord of the Flies. It sounds intriguing.

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Movies Reviews

Retro Sci-Fi Review: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Directed by Robert Wise. Written by Harry Bates and Edmund H. North. Starring Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, and Hugh Marlowe. Available on Amazon Prime Video.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #5

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a sci-fi classic by 20th Century Fox. The film is about the arrival of an alien in human form, Klaatu (Michael Rennie), who lands in Washington, D.C. with a dire warning. Klaatu comes to the earth as a messenger for all alien life throughout the galaxy. Klaatu speaks to the audience with his towering robot (Gort) by his side. Klaatu’s message to the earth is to be more peaceful or life on earth will cease to exist. The humans of earth learn the meaning of peace in order to save their world.

The film highlights the height of paranoia and fear that our country was suffering from during the 1950s. People were afraid of other races and afraid of people from other countries. The 1950s was the dawn of the civil rights movement and the Cold War. Our country would be divided over these issues. Humans on earth automatically assume that Klaatu is a dangerous threat because he’s from outer space. Klaatu comes with the impression of peace, but is quite aware of how violent the earth is. The film takes place during the post-WWII era. Klaatu tells the world that the aliens are okay with them feuding. The alien race doesn’t want atomic weaponry reaching space as one country is planning to send a spaceship with atomic weaponry into orbit. That’s the problem the aliens have with the earth.

Gort (left) and Klaatu (right).

The film does a fantastic job of creating horror in the film without being violent. The camera shots of Gort are expertly structured to make the robot seem menacing. The score/music that accompanies Gort has ominous and bold tones. The beam that comes forth from its eyes is able to penetrate objects and make them disappear into thin air. During the 1950s, radio was a very prominent media source in the delivery of news. The filmmakers use this to their advantage to create a source of tension. In one scene in the beginning of the film, Klaatu wonders the streets of Washington, D.C. at night while the audience can hear broadcasts on the radio of Klaatu’s arrival to earth. It’s creepy and it’s meta in a way. Meta as the broadcasts are about Klaatu and we’re watching Klaatu before us.

Special effects in this film are top notch. The sequence where Klaatu’s spaceship arrives on the earth in Washington, D.C. runs smoothly. The effects aren’t fancy like they are today, but they work for its time period. I mentioned Gort’s eyebeams above. The scenes were Gort uses the beams is effective due to the camera’s close shot onto the face of the robot. It creates the idea that this beam could potentially make the earth disappear.

Although this film is science fiction, it does contain elements of the noir genre. The movie is shot in black and white. The film’s mystery is why this spaceman is on earth. The lighting of the film makes Washington, D.C. an intimate, yet frightening city at night. The sequence where Klaatu leaves his apartment to sneak back to his ship at night is well shot. We have the beauty of the street lamps illuminating while the shadows perfectly cover Klaatu from being seen. It makes sense for the filmmakers to blend these two genres together since the genres were at their height during this time.

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a classic that all sci-fi fans need to see at least once. It’s a sci-fi film that encapsulates the events in politics from the 1940s to the early 1950s. It’s a film that teaches peace over violence. The Day the Earth Stood Still reminds us of the choice that we have every day whether to be peaceful or violent towards others. This film’s message is still effective for even today.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.

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Movies Reviews

Wild Sci-Fi Review: The VelociPastor (2019)

Directed by Brendan Steere. Written by Brendan Steere. Starring Greg Cohan, Alyssa Kempinski, and Daniel Steere.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #4.

In this life, we’re going to come across a film title that’s going to catch our attention. I stumbled upon this movie while scrolling through my feed on Reddit. I laughed immediately with intrigue in the back of my mind. Before I watched this movie to review, I looked up articles about the movie. The film’s director, Brendan Steere, did an interview with Forbes about the movie. He states that he drew inspiration for the film when he tried to type “velociraptor” into Google, but it auto corrected to “veloci pastor.” The goof inspired him to create this bonkers B-movie with only a budget of $35,000. I was excited for what’s to come.

VelociPastor focuses on Pastor Doug Jones (Greg Cohan), whose parents were killed in front of him by a car explosion. Instead of a shot of the burning car, we get a gag with a title card that says, “VFX: Car on fire.” The film immediately is letting the audience know to not take this film seriously. After the death of his parents, Doug heads to China where he earns the ability to turn into a dinosaur. He decides to use his newfound power to fight crime…and ninjas.

Dinosaur versus ninjas.

The film is going for the outlandish to induce great, effective comedy. VelociPastor has fantastic quotes and dumb, memorable scenes that will stay with audiences after the movie’s over. Two scenes come to my mind as examples. Early in the film, audiences meet a supporting character by the name of Frankie Mermaid. Frankie Mermaid is a pimp, who asks one of his prostitutes why do they call him by that name. She responds, “because you’re swimming in bitches.” I was dead. I completely lost it. I had to pause the movie and let the laughter out. The next scene that was comical was a Vietnam flashback scene. It’s a flashback sequence where supporting character, Father Stewart (Daniel Steere), remembers his time at war. In the sequence, his lovely girlfriend randomly shows up out of nowhere on the battlefield and gets blown up by a mine. Father Stewart stands there in shock, while his war buddies talk about the mine casually. Such good shit, dudes.

Greg Cohan needs to be commended for putting forth the effort in this whacky movie. He goes all out with the dinosaur transformation scenes. The dinosaur is a giant, rubbery-looking suit that they made. It’s not Jurassic Park quality. It’s Walmart/Dollar General quality. They make the most of the dinosaur with it decapitating people and gouging people’s eyes. As for the fight scenes, they’re hilarious watching someone running around in a dinosaur outfit, who’s knocking over people dressed as ninjas. This movie deserves a shot of getting airtime on Syfy or another network.

If you enjoy absurdity, this film is for you. If you don’t like comedy, you will find this movie to be stupid and not worth your time. I recommend it for lovers of B-movies.

Overall rating: 4/5.

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Movies

Sci-Fi Movie Release of the Week: Godzilla vs. Kong

This isn’t a review. It’s just a mention of a notable sci-fi movie that releases this week. This week’s is Godzilla vs. Kong. The two legendary behemoths fight on the big screen in theaters and the small screen thanks to HBO Max. The film is a sequel to Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Who will win? Tune in to find out.

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Movies Reviews

Review: Replicas (2019)

Starring Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, and John Ortiz. Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff. Written by Chad St. John. Rated PG-13.

The Spring of Sci-Fi Review #1

Ah, Keanu Reeves. A man that we adore. A man that also isn’t afraid to participate as a lead actor in horrible films. This is one of those times. Reeves plays William Foster, who’s a neuroscientist that loses his family in a tragic car accident. After their deaths, William Foster works on a crazy scheme to clone his family’s bodies and create replicas of them. Reeves seems to be bored himself with this role.

Replicas is a dead movie. There’s no energy emanating from this film. None of the actors have any energy in their performances, except for Thomas Middleditch. Middleditch does well playing the reluctant scientist who doesn’t want to help William Foster in his bizarre plan to resurrect his family. Reeves has more passion in his performances for the John Wick films that were being released around this same time. The John Wick films are action-packed, so no wonder he is bland for this mediocre film.

The movie is a patchwork of other science fiction films with a clear influence from Frankenstein. There’s no in-depth explanation of how the characters can pull off this scientific experiment. The film wants the audience to automatically assume that this is plausible. Another mess of this script is that it tries to be funny in spurts. The jokes fall flat as it doesn’t work within the film’s tone. The tone? Why am I mentioning tone when it’s everywhere in this film? It tries to be funny, serious, and scary at the wrong times.

Replicas tries to portray William Foster as this hero. He comes off as a creep with psychological issues. While working on resurrecting his family, he tries to maintain the appearance that his family is still alive. He does this to the extent that he starts acting like his middle-age daughter. He texts her friends acting like her and even engages with a young boy that likes her. Utterly creepy. The protagonist and the film’s script doesn’t care about grief. Foster’s family dies and he immediately tries to bring them back without thinking about the consequences. That is what we like to call “cowboy shit.” Why would someone want a copy of their deceased family member? Nobody wants a copy. They would want the real person back. I’d rather grieve over the loss than try to bring someone back in a process that could have dire consequences.

This movie is a bad trip and a questionable role decision by Keanu Reeves. I say that this is one of his worst performances. His worst still being the film, Siberia. My HBO Max stopped twice while watching Replicas. I guess that was a hint to watch something else.

Overall rating: 1/5.

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Comics

Lonely In Lizard Valley #1: The Professor (Fictional Story)

Joseph Parker is a news reporter for a Culver City news station—WZYT Channel 9 News. He’s in his late forties-early fifties, whose hair is balding. He’s bald on top with brown hair on the sides. He has on a blue button up shirt with a blue tie. He is waiting to go live via a stream that’s similar to Zoom. He turns on his camera and then gets the cue to begin.

“Today, we have an interesting interview today with a scientist from the secretive town Lizard Valley. There are rumors that the town is stuck in a constant time loop. Today, we have professor Lars Kearns via Zoom stream to talk about this mysterious location. Lars, are you there?”

The Zoom stream goes to a split screen. Lars is a skinny, older man in his mid-fifties with hair that’s black and curly. He has on a white dress shirt with a red tie that’s loose on his shirt. There’s a significant blood stain on his shirt. He has on glasses that are crooked on his face. He looks distraught and tired. Parker didn’t expect his guest to look this way.

“Woah…Professor Kearns…are you okay there?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m good. Call me Lars. The locals call me Lars.”

“So, Professor Kearns, tell me what it’s like living in the strange town of Lizard Valley.”

“Oh, it’s bullshit.”

Parker’s eyes grow large. Then he laughs nervously. 

“I’m sorry, Professor, but we can’t curse on air.”

The professor is looking at the bloodstain on his shirt. Then he snaps out of it to look at Parker.

“Oh, sorry,” the professor says.

“I see you looking at a stain on your shirt. Is that blood?”

“Yeah, I shot myself in another failed suicide attempt.” 

“Uh,” says Parker.

Parker chuckles nervously, while sweat appears on his face. Parker’s news producer talks to Parker in his ear piece. 

“Keep going.”

Parker nods and continues on. “So…you attempted suicide?”

“Yeah, it was the…17th time. See…time in Lizard Valley is in a loop. We relive the same day every day. You can do different things. But when the day ends, we start all over again. Also, apparently, we can’t die and we’re immortal.” 

“Wow. Immortality,” says Parker.

“It’s not a good thing. You wanna know why?”

“Why?”

Kearns pulls up his shirt to show his skinny frame and small belly.

“I have stage two stomach cancer. It will never go away. See, I could leave the valley and maybe get treatment. But, the next day, I’ll wake back up here with my body back in the same condition. I could go to Japan for treatment and I’ll somehow be back the next day. See, our brains and thoughts move forward with time, but our bodies don’t. Time always resets itself every day here.”

Parker looks baffled and curious as to what say next. 

“Sounds awful,” says Parker.

“Don’t believe all of these rumors about the town. Don’t get me wrong–it’s a good town for some. Some, like me, it’s bad.”

“May I ask who thinks it’s a good life?”

“The Clarks do! They’re both in their eighties. Apparently they don’t wanna die yet. I guess they’re not tired of looking at each other.”

Kearns brings out a long, brown rope. He looks at Parker.

“You know…when the word got to me that this town was mysterious and it was in a time loop…I had to check it out myself.”

He starts tying the rope into a noose.

“That was a mistake. So fucking stupid. Oh, sorry, I cussed again. I thought that I could fix this town’s temporal crisis. I thought that I could be a hero. Instead, my brain is cooked. 

Kearns gets up from his chair with the noose and stands on the chair. Parker starts to panic.

“Uh, Professor Kearns. Professor Kearns! What are you doing?”

Kearns looks at the camera.

“Killing myself. I’m sleepy. Tired. I need a breather. Gotta deal with this bullshit again tomorrow. Like I said, we can’t die here.”

Kearns puts the noose around his neck.

“I’d say goodbye, cruel world, but it wouldn’t be true. See y’all tomorrow!”

Parker cuts off the feed and makes it single screen. Parker is in shock as he closes his interview. 

“That…that…back to you, Lance.”

Parker stares into his laptop screen in utter shock.

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Comics

Nostalgic Reviews: “Aquaman Goes to College” (Adventure Comics #120) (1947)

We bet that you didn’t know that, did you? Aquaman has been to college. In 1947, writer Joe Samachson and artist Louis Cazenueve had the nautical superhero attend university to expand his knowledge of deep-sea animals/creatures. That is an admirable reason for Aquaman to go to school as he hasn’t seen every sea creature that there is. With extra analysis, people who study fish are called “ichthyologists.” It is a branch of the field of zoology.

In the story, Aquaman tells his finny friends that he’s going up to land to study fish after interacting with one that had poisonous spines. The fish with spines made Aquaman sick for a few days, so Aquaman wants to investigate fish that he hasn’t interacted with yet. Aquaman attends Weston College that has the top ICHTHYOLOGIST in the country. You will have that big word memorized by the end of the day. Professor Hatcher, the top ichthyologist, is in charge of the financials of the university. Aquaman overhears Hatcher talking to Mr. Reed, who donates his own money to keep the university open. Mr. Reed tells Hatcher that if the university doesn’t field a winning sports team, he will stop funding the university. Aquaman tells Reed that they will win an upcoming swim meet. Reed says he’ll give the university a million dollars if they win. Aquaman starts dominating the meet, while Mr. Reed is on the ocean with his boat sinking. A finny friend finds its way to Aquaman to relay to him that Mr. Reed may die. Aquaman swims his way to the ocean where he saves Reed with his finny friends and earns the million-dollar donation that Weston needs to keep operating.

The story is brief, but captures the lightheartedness of past Aquaman tales. Samachson crafts an intelligent script with the limited page length that he has. The transition of Aquaman’s academic career to saving Mr. Reed/Weston in the script is well-paced. Aquaman going to college could’ve been inspirational for readers back in the 1940s. Cazanueve is brilliant with his art and the colors make it pop. Some objects are colored oddly in the story, such as Mr. Reed’s ship being purple. The colors of when Aquaman is underneath the ocean has this beautiful, space vibe.

Overall rating: 3.5/5. It’s not a memorable story. It is a pleasing, short story that will make you smile.