Web Series

Flare

In Revolution, there’s a massive technological blackout that leads to society’s breakdown and an uptick in crossbow sales. It’s a clear attempt at tapping into the mystery-craving populace that followed Lost like a religion, but it seems like the series from Eric Kripke is too enigmatically empty and unintentionally hilarious to live up to the gritty hype. For those disappointed by Revolution, the new web series Flare might offer some hope. The similarities are obvious. They share the same high concept where a worldwide blackout leads to a brutish existence for clan-based characters, and bow-based weaponry is admittedly popular, but the quality difference is striking.  The above trailer plays a bit broad as a piece of advertising, but the show itself – which stars Mark Moses from Mad Men and Jamie McShane from Sons of Anarchy – is notable for eschewing dull exposition without resorting to vagueness devoid of meaning. Characters act and speak like human beings stuck in a terrible new paradigm instead of commiserating like dinner theater actors who’ve been told they’ll be shot if they ever reveal what’s going on. The budget limitations are clear from time to time, but the show earns respect for looking great and getting the core elements of the genre recipe right. If you’re searching for a new post-Apocalyptic show to dive into after being scorned by Revolution, you can watch the first 18-minute episode of Flare online for free. And then, apparently, you can help them decide where the show goes […]

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Enormous

Director André Øvredal’s Norwegian found footage horror movie, Trollhunter, was a lot more fun that most found footage horror movies, because it didn’t spend any time trying to convince you that what you were watching was real, it instead put all of its efforts toward making a dumb, fun troll movie with the best looking trolls that their modest budget could afford. So, on that level, it was a huge success, because Trollhunter is a big, dumb movie that’s a lot of fun to watch and all of the big, dumb trolls in it look pretty great. Which makes Øvredal a prime candidate to helm a live action adaptation of Tim Daniel and Mehdi Cheggour’s comic book “Enormous.” Originally published by Image Comics, “Enormous” is set in a world where humanity is being overrun by gigantic beasts who are wrecking our cities and eating our children. It’s kind of like Godzilla if Godzilla brought friends. According to THR, producer Adrian Askarieh is looking to take a Cloverfield-like approach to adapting the material, wherein the people being stepped on will get more of the focus than the monsters doing the stepping. That’s not the whole story when it comes to what he has planned, however.

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Editor’s Note: You can watch the episode at the bottom of the post. Hooray! The second to last episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy finally gives us a battle between fan favorite characters Scorpion and Sub Zero, and it also finally gave us our first images of a character using super powers during a fight. The first half of this storyline was almost all build, putting Scorpion and Sub Zero on a collision course that would come to a head during this fight in the woods. Though the fight is a little short for all of the build it got, it did manage to be satisfying because of its inclusion of essential gameplay moments. First off, we get to watch Sub Zero use his ice powers in battle, and the results are pretty fun. The effects work on the ice creations aren’t the most impressive or polished that I’ve ever seen, but they’re perfectly acceptable and don’t take away from the battle by looking shoddy or cheesy. I particularly liked how there’s always a slight trail of smoke and snow behind all of his power bursts. The real cool part about it was just seeing him go on the offensive with moves that you can use in the games.

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This week’s episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy is all about the build. And finally, we get the introduction of what were always my favorite characters back in the day, Scorpion and Sub Zero. The episode begins feeling very authentically like a Kung-Fu movie. Images of nature are shown while a voice over narration tells us about the history of a powerful clan of warriors. Their leader, Hanzo Hasashi, is one of the most feared fighters on the planet. We learn early on, as his myth has grown through the ages he eventually started being known by another name: Scorpion. Boom, shot of Scorpion in full ninja garb, he throws his patented kunai on a rope straight at the camera, and we have our title card. What an effective way to gain my interest. The episode then cuts to a frantic chase through woods. A man is being pursued. There is implied danger at every turn. There are glimpses of movement from all sides, but no clear shot of what threat lurks. Finally, his attacker pounces, and it’s revealed that the man being chased is Scorpion, and the one doing the chasing his young son Jubei. For the large chunk of this episode we get father/son bonding between Jubei and Hasashi. Despite the fact that he is very young, Jubei wants to be a warrior like his father, a plan that doesn’t sit well with his mother. She wants him to be a singer, and in fact she wants him to […]

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As always, the episode itself is embedded at the bottom of the review. This episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy quite thankfully abandons the cheese of the last two in order to switch gears and introduce the character of Raiden. Raiden is one of the characters that I remember best from my youth playing the original Mortal Kombat video game. He had one of those big, ridiculous Chinese straw hats, he could teleport to the other side of the screen, and he could shoot lightning out of his hands. That’s some pretty cool stuff, eh? But how would it translate to live action? Turns out pretty well. This is a decidedly different take on a lightning God coming down to Earth story than we recently got in the big screen movie Thor. When Thor came down to Earth the circumstances of his place of landing led to him getting a cute new girlfriend. Mortal Kombat: Legacy goes to significantly darker places. When Raiden lands on Earth he does so on the property of a mental institution. It’s not too long after he proclaims himself as being Lord Raiden to the guards that he finds himself spending the rest of the episode strapped down, pumped full of drugs, and lobotomized.

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The fourth episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy took a huge step down in quality from the first three, and while this fifth episode continues the storyline that the fourth started, it isn’t quite as bad. It keeps things a lot simpler for one; this is a pretty straightforward assassination plot. There wasn’t anything new about merged souls or demon twins that got introduced and poorly explained, there wasn’t as much bad acting, and we at least got a little bit of fighting in the opening moments. It isn’t all gravy though. The episode starts with an extended sequence of Kitana and Mileena training against each other. It’s a capable Kung-Fu movie inspired fighting sequence, but it’s shot a bit too dark to look good. When the lack of lighting is coupled with the digital quality of this series’ image, it often looks like you’re watching the fight through goggles that have had ink spilled all over them. The choreography is good though, and the girls playing the twins pull off the action well, even if I don’t know why we’re supposed to buy the fact that the two actresses are identical. The fight also works well to establish Kitana as being the superior fighter and Mileena as the jealous black sheep of the family. Only, you know, super black because she’s actually some sort of vampiric clone.

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Mortal Kombat: Legacy has done a great job of changing things up and staying interesting so far. The first two episodes of the series looked like excerpts from a big budget action film. Then the third was a parody of celebrity news and reality TV. This episode keeps up the intrigue by starting out with some animation. It begins with a fairy tale voice over telling us about the history of some sort of mystical land. We get castles and mountain backdrops, and it’s all presented in a stylish, almost water color looking animation. I thought it was an interesting thing to do for a series that has been, up to this point, all about keeping things set mostly in our modern reality. But then the animation transitions into live action and everything goes bad. So bad that, by the end of this episode, I was left feeling a lot less confident about the direction Mortal Kombat: Legacy is going in.

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The third episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy starts off looking jarringly different than anything we’ve seen from the show so far. Gone are the gritty environments and shady looking tough guys, and in their place is a parody presentation of one of those Hollywood gossip shows. It looks like something you’d see on E! reporting on the personal lives of the Kardashians. The effect is a little confusing, and I even spent a second thinking I had loaded up the wrong video, but the change in tone comes because we’ve left our characters from the first two episodes behind in order to be introduced to a new player, Hollywood actor Johnny Cage. The first thing we learn about Cage is that his story is one of rise and fall. He was once the most promising action star in the business, but he threw it all away due to ego and self-destructive tendencies. I liked the way Cage’s story was presented, as the trash news parody was able to act as a framework for giving us a lot of information in a short amount of time without writing huge mouthfuls of expositional dialogue for the characters. This is the sort of trick an abbreviated series with ten-minute episodes needs to be pulling to keep us engrossed in the characters but not use up all of the precious screen time being talky. Plus, Kevin Tancharoen and his crew got the tone of the thing just right. We get the Ken Burns motion […]

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What do you get when every episode of your show is only 10 or so minutes long? This week it’s two action sequences and a plot point. When we last left our players Sonya Blade had freed herself from her chains and her rescuer Jax and the jerk that chained her up Kano were diving away from an explosion. When this episode begins we are dropped back off in the warehouse, right in the middle of some more shooting and fighting. First a newly freed Sonya Blade takes out some lackeys and finds herself some firepower. That’s one of two action sequences in the episode, and it’s very brief. The bulk of what we get for the rest of the run time is a hand-to-hand fight between Jax and Kano. What I saw here was a big indication of where this web series is heading in the future and what it’s going to accomplish. If you’re going to make a serial show about Mortal Kombat, probably the most essential thing that you’re going to need to get right is the hand-to-hand fighting. Now that we’ve seen some fisticuffs between two of the big characters, I have more confidence that Mortal Kombat: Legacy is getting things right.

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What started out as a web short, and what may some day become a feature length film, is currently a debuting web series. A company named Machinima, in conjunction with Warner Bros., brings you the first episode of the new web based series Mortal Kombat: Legacy. The first episode tells the story of an evil guy named Kano (Darren Shahlavi) who has a hideout where he leads a force of evil guys in evil tasks, and their captive Sonya Blade (Jeri Ryan) who is a police person of some sort. The thrust of the episode’s around 11 minute runtime is a pair of police named Jackson Briggs (Michael Jai White) and Kurtis Stryker (Tahmoh Penikett) leading an assault on Kano’s compound and trying to get Sonya out. Technically, the show is up to par with any sort of action sci-fi show that you might see on basic cable currently, so clearly Warner Bros. is investing a decent amount of money into this project. But aside from the purely financial concerns of what they’re capable of doing, the show is pretty artistically put together as well. The image looks very digital. I guess that’s to be expected, as it’s largely the advances in digital photography that are making projects like this possible, and the slight waxiness of the actors doesn’t take much away from the aesthetics of the show. Much of what we see is set in a dark warehouse, and while we largely get a shadowy noir look to things, […]

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Last summer, this fantastic short film featuring the characters of Mortal Kombat hit the internet with a furious vengeance as if it were trying to rectify the first two movies. It might have succeeded. The short starred Michael “Dynamite” Jai White as Jax, and it’s led to a 10-episode web series. That web series may very well lead to a movie produced at Warners.

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