With the upcoming release of “MORTAL KOMBAT” (2021) – in theaters and on HBO Max on Friday, April 23rd, we figured what better way to prep than to do a deep dive into the rich mythology and ever-evolving backstories of this epic video game franchise?
In the original, somewhat controversial kontroversial 1992 arcade classic (created by Ed Boon and John Tobias), the evil sorcerer, Shang Tsung, hosts a tournament on a mystical island to determine the fate of Earthrealm. The game was revolutionary at the time, featuring 7 playable fighters who were all brought to life with digitized frames of live action actors. The game has since spawned 10 sequels, spin-offs, komics, action figures, kartoons, and three live action films.
As one of the longest-lived fighting game franchises ever, Mortal Kombat has always had a large, diverse, colorful cast of characters- sorry, kast of kharacters (this is exhausting). But after nearly a dozen games the sheer number of characters has exploded, and unless you’re a die hard MK fan it kan be a bit konfusing (UGH) trying to keep track of who is who and how they all relate to each other.
This is it, the battle of the century: It’s King vs God, Zilla vs Kong – as a Fire-Breathing Lizard takes on one Giant Angry Ape – in this no-holds barred clash between the King of the Monsters and the Titan of Skull Island! Who will come out on top? Why are they fighting? How that monkey get so big? Will we survive to find out? Find out on the latest season of Podcasters Assemble (probably)…
Although they initially missed out on the first season (covering the Marvel Cinematic Universe films), they both eagerly jumped on board with the Star Wars saga for Season 2 (after skipping the prequels) and have since been working on Season 3 where they’ve been covering *ALL 25 Bond movies* in a countdown to the latest film in the franchise, “No Time to Die”! (See below for links to episodes.)
Last time in Part 2 we tackled all three Wolverine movies and Deadpool, this time we’re taking a look at the new (and far better) X-Men trilogy – First Class, Days of Future Past and Apocalypse!
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Michael Fassbender (Magneto / Erik Lensherr), James McAvoy (Charles Xavier / Prof X), Jennifer Lawrence (Raven / Mystique), Kevin Bacon (Sebastian Shaw), Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), Nicholas Hoult (Hank McCoy / Beast), January Jones (Emma Frost), Lucas Till (Alex Summers / Havok), Oliver Platt (CIA agent), Zoë Kravitz (Angel Salvadore),Caleb Landry Jones (Banshee), Jason Flemyng (Azazel), Edi Gathegi (‘Darwin’), Rade Serbedzija (Soviet General), Michael Ironside (US Navy Captain), Don Creech (Stryker Sr.), and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine cameo).
Plot: Realizing that they should have hired Matthew Vaughn for X-Men 3 like he wanted, and that there was nowhere to go with the franchise after Brett “that smell on my thumbs is my ass!” Ratner ‘Batman-and-Robin’d-it’, Fox reboots the franchise with re-casted characters. Magneto hunts for Sebastian Shaw, a mutant that was in charge of the concentration camp he grew up in, while Charles Xavier works with agent Moira Mactaggert and the CIA to gather a team of young mutants. They must team up to stop Shaw from starting World War 3 while learning how to use their powers and accept themselves.
Erik Smash: Following the unbelievably terrible X-Men: The Last Stand and even worse X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Fox finally gets it right with director Matthew Vaughn! “X-Men: First Class” is a back-to-basics prequel / reboot that tells the story of how the X-Men were first formed by a young Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto!
Oh boy… well we survived the nightmare that was X3, but we’re not quite out of the woods just yet. After the initial X-Men trilogy (see Part One) started strong before crashing and burning, the studio decided to make a solo Wolverine spin-off, which sounded better on paper than in execution. This time, Erik Smash and I are going to rip into the X-Men spin-offs, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel, because against all odds Fox somehow managed to really turn things around with the release of “Deadpool” and “Logan” – proving to Hollywood that some characters work better with an R rating.
But first up…
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Directed by: Gavin Hood
Starring: Hugh Jackman (Logan / The Wolverine / James Howlett), Liev Schreiber (Victor Creed / Sabretooth), Danny Huston (William Stryker), Lynn Collins (Silverfox), Ryan Reynolds (Wade Wilson / “Deadpool”), Kevin Durand (Fred Dukes / The Blob), Will.I.Am (Wraith), Daniel Henney (Agent Zero), Taylor Kitsch (Remy LeBeau / Gambit), Tim Pocock (young Scott Summers / Cyclops), and Sir Patrick Stewart (Prof X cameo).
Plot: We finally get to see Wolverine’s history played out on the big screen, and it’s… it’s just awful. When the stars of the film don’t hide their disdain for it (both Jackman and Reynolds) and it is immediately ignored and forgotten by the rest of the franchise, you know you can sleep well as a director. And by sleep well I mean you should be horribly, horribly ashamed. Sigh…
There was a long period of time where the only super hero movies we had were the Christopher Reeve Superman films, which (as we discussed HERE), had their considerable ups and downs (mostly downs), and the Batman franchise(which we discussed HERE, HERE, and HERE), but this was before the excellent Christopher Nolan reboot, so it was also mostly bad.
Then the late 90’s hit and Marvel (with New Line Cinema) had a surprise hit on their hands with Blade, and all of a sudden it felt like there might be a chance we’d get some more. That’s when Fox dropped a bombshell and announced they were going to finally, FINALLY, release a live action X-Men film!
Fifteen years later, and the franchise has had its ups and downs (notice a trend?), but found its footing again with X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past. Now, with X-Men: Apocalypse, Deadpool, and a third Wolverine film looming, the franchise appears to be in as good a shape as it has ever been.
Previously on All UR Movies Are Belong to Us, we tore into the Christopher Reeve Superman movies (and then briefly skimmed over Supergirl and Steel), this time we’re looking at the last two outings of the Last Son of Krypton… which could not be more tonally different!
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: Brandon Routh (Clark Kent / Kal-El / Superman), Kate Bosworth (Lois Lane), Kevin Spacey (Lex Luthor), James Marsden (Richard White), Parker Posey (Kitty Kowalski), Frank Langella (Perry White), Sam Huntington (Jimmy Olsen), Eva Marie Saint (Martha Kent), Kal Penn (Henchman #2), and Marlon Brando (space dad hologram).
Plot: Nothing happens for the first 90% of the movie, and then for the last 10% the stakes are finally raised to EVEN MORE nothing happening. Also, Superman is a deadbeat dad who spies on Lois Lane constantly, never punches anything, and has a dorky bastard kid with superpowers and a terrible haircut. Speaking of terrible haircuts, Lex Luthor is back at it again with another ridiculous scheme involving real estate!
Comic Zombie: Superman Returns is the exhibit A some people point to when they say that superhero movies shouldn’t be made by fanboys (to which I counter with The Avengers). It seemed like a no-brainer: Brian Singer had just made two very successful X-Men movies, it has a solid cast (on paper), a huge budget, and was a do-over for parts 3 and 4, which this film pretends never happened. Just like the rest of us.
I mean, nothing could go wrong this time around, right? Right??!!
Starring: Helen Slater (Supergirl), Faye Dunaway (Selena), Peter O’Toole (Zaltar), Hart Bochner (Ethan), Mia Farrow (Alura), Brenda Vaccaro (Bianca), Peter Cook (Nigel), Simon Ward (Zor-El), Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen), Maureen Teefy (Lucy Lane)
Plot: Supergirl does stuff and… it’s just so bad. I can’t.
We discussed the surprisingly solid “Superman: The Movie” and it’s inferior sequel, Richard Lester’s “Superman 2” (and it’s much, much better alternate Richard Donner cut) here in Part One. I suggest reading that before diving into hell here, if for no other reason than to remind yourself that Superman movies can be fun, if not outright good, because these two train wrecks will do everything they can to prove that statement wrong…
Superman III (1983)
Directed by: Richard Lester
Starring: Christopher Reeve (Clark Kent / Kal-El / Superman / Evil Superman?), Richard Pryor?! (Gus Gorman / low-budget Brainiac?), Annette O’Toole (Lana Lang), Robert Vaughn (Lex Luthor Ross Webster), Jackie Cooper (Perry White), Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen), and Margot Kidder (Lois Lane – cameo).
Plot: Webscoe (really?) CEO, Ross “I’m not Lex Luthor!” Webster, blackmails Gus “I’m Richard Pryor!” Gorman to help him use his computer to take over the world or some stupid shit that’s not worth mentioning, and to use a “weather satellite” to somehow (?) decimate the coffee crops in Colombia so he can monopolize the coffee market… I promise, I’m not making this up. Superman reunites with his ex-girlfriend Lana Lang while on a trip home to Smallville, and while there is exposed to a weird off-brand form of Kryptonite that makes him a huge asshole, going around straightening the leaning tower of Pisa and blowing out the Olympic flame (what a dick) before going on a drinking binge (what?). Superman splits into two personas: Dickhead Superman and Morally Righteous Superman. Mr. Moral beats Mr. Dick, the regular Superman is back, and beats the bad guys. Audiences wiped away the blood coming from their noses.