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September 06, 1995 - Image 30

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-06

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12B - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 6, 1995

IKombat' action-packed fun

_

By Ted Watts
Daily Arts Writer
"Mortal Kombat": An arcade and
home video game system smash,
heavily marketed and ultimately
converted to a moving picture me-
dia. Sounds like Pac-Man, but it is
definitely a step up.
If you've played the game, you,
know the story: combatants fight
each other to the death, and if they're
good enough, they ultimately get to
fight a supernatural being. The
movie adds more, of course: the
combatants have been divided into
those fighting for Earth and those
fighting for the emperor of
Outworld, a powerful entity who
wishes to take over Earth. Still, the
movie is essentially a glorified ver-
sion of tying the fight scenes of the
game together, complete with a gen-
erous portion of electronic music
and arcade-style sound effects.
But we get background on the
characters from the attempt at a uni-
fying story. After the opening titles,
the movie begins with Liu Kang
(Robin Shou) dreaming a fight se-
quence of his brother's death at the
hands of evil sorcerer Shang Tsung
(Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), then
showing fight scenes with Sonya
Blade (Bridgette Wilson) and
Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby). So
the establishment of the main char-
acters' drives and fighting abilities
is gotten out of the way quickly.
Soon after, Liu Kang travels from

1 REVIEW

Mortal Kombat
Directed by Paul Anderson
Starring Christopher
Lambert, Robin Shou and
Linden Ashby
At Showcase
America to Asia and encounters god
of thunder Rayden (Christopher
Lambert) for the first time, which
leads to Liu joining a slew of fight-
ers congregating on a pier in Hong
Kong to board a ship that will take
them to the Mortal Kombat tourna-
ment. Liu, Johnny and Sonya meet
on board the eerie vessel and pro-
ceed to have personality conflicts
until Rayden tells them that one of
them will decide the outcome of the
tournament.
Once on the island where the
tournament is to take place, various
fight scenes take place, leading ulti-
mately to the final showdown be-
tween Liu and Shang Tsung in
Outworld. You'll just have to see it
to see if the good guys win or not.
"Mortal Kombat" works very
well as a showcase for martial art-
istry. The actors in large part do
their own stunts, and the visual ef-
fect is worthwhile. The shots don't
keep cutting to just someone's hand
smacking someone else around. In-

stead you also get to see the person
attached to the hand smacking some-
one around. And in large part, real-
istic looking people fighting was
what the game was about.
Another important aspect of the
game was the gimmicks of the indi-
vidual characters. The movie cer-
tainly tries to use them as much as
possible. Rayden has lots of light-
ning effects surrounding him, Shang
Tsung's morphing abilities are used
a handful of times and Sub Zero's
icy abilities are represented pretty
well. There are problems with other
gimmicks, though. Scorpion's scor-
pion has far too much reach and far
too much personality of its own. At
the other end of the scale is the
terribly unrealistic look of the giant
four-armed Goro. Essentially look-
ing like a lima bean green-colored
monster one step up from the effects
in "Clash of the Titans," Goro is an
extremely unbelievable effect.
There really doesn't seem to be any
standard level to the believability of
the gimmicks in the film.
The characters in the film pretty
much all fall into the category of
caricature, though. Johnny is an ego-
tistical movie star, Sonya is the tough
pretty girl, Liu is the tormented war-
rior who must come to grips with
his past and Shang Tsung is, well,
just plain evil. Rayden is the pri-
mary exception. The thunder god is
usually an enigmatic wall of dark-
ness, who occasionally bursts into

4s
s o
Just one of the life-affirming, heartwarming scenes In 'Mortal Kombat.'

laughter for no apparent reason. His
wry, unfathomable sense of humor
is as much a balance to Johnny's
stupid one-liner humor as to Shang
Tsung's maleficent joy in the grim
fate of kombatants. Although quite
possibly still a caricature, Rayden
at least isn't an overused one.
The scenery in "Mortal Kombat"
is unfortunately fairly disappoint-
ing. Except for a handful of location
shots, the sets are boring at best,
garishly unrealistic at worst. Dopey
gargoyles and cheesy corpse ves-
sels really aren't the best thing for

this brand of film, and they seem to
have been breeding concertedly on
both the tournament island and on
Outworld. While the monastery
shots are actually impressive and
the movie set within the movie is
funny, the overall impression is that
the set department was not all it
could have been, unless it had been
made by Full Moon.
Perhaps the biggest annoyance
about the film is that it seems to end at
the very beginning of a scene. Expect
that there will either be a sequel to the
movie soon, or at least that there will

be a lot of unsatisfied movie goers.
It's like a season ending cliffhanger,
but it's a whole lot harder to renew a
movie than a series. It's certainly a
wait and see proposition to figure out
the extent of annoyance it will cause.
All in all, "Mortal Kombat" is a
lot like a Power Rangers movie for
adults. A group of martial artist
friends fight evil to save the world
with the help of a powerful other
being and win while wild music
keeps playing in the background. If
you like fight scenes, listen to Scor-
pion and get over there.

mom

RECORDS
Continued from page 111B
Truly
Fast Stories... From Kid
Coma
Capitol
Made up of one time members of
both Screaming Tress and Soundgarden,
Truly is quite possibly the embodiment
of the promise of Seattle. But "Fast
Stories... From Kid Coma" took them
four years to complete and they have
thus avoided being a visible Seattle
band. But recording songs periodically
over the space ofyears gives the album
a certain diversity in sound which is

always helpful in liking a CD.
This album gives the impression of
containing the best aspects of Kiss and
the Beach Boys mixed with a generous
portion of fatigue to slow it all down.
The surfy guitars and eerie low-end
parts of"If You Don't Let it Die" coex-
ist with the violin synthesizer and dron-
ing beat of "Hot Summer 1991." The
album leaps from style to style, but
retains a unity of sound, a certain
drowned under the bass impression
mixed with vintage keyboard elements,
which separates it from most anything
else around today.
At times the songs do go on a bit.
The eight minute long "Hurricane

Dance" gets a bit tiresome, and the 11
minute "Chlorine" even more so. But if
you are in the proper mood, such sonic
experiments can be comforting bits of
beauty. They are essentially different
fromthe gently hammeringtracks found
on much ofthe remainder ofthe album.
But that's all right. The album's variety
is part of what makes it cool.
- Ted Watts
COSmiCity
The Vision
Attitude Records
Ann Arbor's music scene is another
Seattle just waiting to happen. Okay, so
maybe it's not. Far be it for me to discour-
agelocaltalent,butifmuchofA-squared's
output is similar to Cosmicity's "The Vi-
sion," then Ann Arbor's music scene may
never happen. This is not to say that the
album is universally bad, or that it is
musically inept-it's not.The problem is
that it is very, very standard. The liner
noteslistErasure,NewOrderandDepeche
Mode as techno-pop influences. How-
ever, Cosmicity would do well to fol-
low the example of those influences a
bit closer. That is, rather than aping an
admired musical genre, Mark Nicho-
las, the heart and soul of Cosmicity,
would do better applying his talents
(which, it must be admitted, are fairly
formidable, as the production on "The
Vision" is quite good, as is the music
overall) toward staking out a new part
of the techno spectrum and making it
his own. This, afterall, is what has made
Erasure and the like successful. "The
Vision," thus, is fairly good as a dance
CD, but it is not a very listenable disc.
- Gordon Smith
Lo-Key?
Back 2 Da Howse
Perspectivce Records
With one release already under
thier belt, and one member, "D," no
longer with the group, the four mem-

bers of the somewhat successful Lo-
Key have returned with their sopho-
more attempt at R&B popularity.
Dr6,,Lance, T-Bone and prof. t have
produced a good, though hardly im-
mortalizing, LP.
What Lo-Key? suffers from is a
minor case of lyrical/musical mis-
match syndrome. Too often, the
background music and the singers'
voices crash - loudly, violently
and nastily. Couldn't the group have
come up with a better refrain than
the song title in "Li'l Shumpin',
Shumpin?" Didn't someone realize
that T-Bone is no George Clinton
and therefore has nobusiness open-
ing "Don't Trip On Me" the way he
did? And what drunkard arranged
the music in "Turn Around?"
Fortunately, "Back 2 Da Howse"
has more than a handful of cuts
which ' buoy this CD above com-
plete obscurity. The beautifully
sung, but hideously short, "Call My
Name," is one example. "My De-
sire" sounds like the Isley Brothers
performed it themselves. (Yes, Lo-
Key? still sports an amazing ability
to blend'60s and '70s musical styles
with modern-day twists. Sounds
reminiscent of the oldies-but-good-
ies of the past are everywhere on
this album.) The sometimes comic
"We Ain't Right," focusing on a
man trying to break off an adulter-
ous relationship, may sound corny
at first, but it gets better.
On the highly positive side, the
members of Lo-Key? are still some
of the most harmonious brothas to-
day. Interms ofthe members' chem-
istry with one another, few can top
them.
"Back 2 Da Howse" is definitely
an improvement over the groups'
debut release "Where Dy At?". The
loss of "D" must have been an im-
provement, if anything. Though Lo-

Join Lo-Key? as they go 'Back 2 Da Howse' on their latest album.

I love you Truly, truly I do.

Key still has a ways to go musically,
this release was without question a
great leap in the oh so right direc-
tion.
- Eugene Bowen
Sugar Ray
Lemonade and Brownies
Atlentic Records
Sugar Ray is the same feeling as
having munchies at 3 a.m. and run-
ning out to Denny's. Once inside the
first thing I spot are those pies, staring
at me with their pie eyes. "Mmm!" I
think. "Pie it is!" And even though
it's not as good as other pie at other
restaurants, it's good pie and it fills
me up. Then I order a second piece.
Good, but not as good. It's become
filler. But I must have more pie to
feed my pie-loving psyche (psyche to
Kirk: "More pie, loser boy!") Then I
get sick, go home vomiting and end
up in bed drinking ginger ale for the
next week, reading Penthouse Forum
and trying to forget about pie. But
then I want some more. More pie, that
is.
Sugar Ray. It's phat. It's heavy.
It's soulful. It's stupid (in a fun way).
It's stupid (in a bad way, witness the
"free Mike Tyson" lyrics in "Iron
Mic" and the only rhyme ever done
with "Alan Dershowitz"). It's a big
ooey-gooey-chocolatey binge ofphat-
punk-funk metal.
Oh, and the lead singer looks like
Brad Pitt. Yum?
- Kirk Miller
SiIverchair
Frogstomp
Epic Records
They're 15 and 16 years old.
They sound like Nirvana. They have
long, shiny hair, perfect teeth and
no girlfriends.

With all these interesting facts
to attack and mangle, many critics
have bypassed the most important
detail about the Australian trio
Silverchair: These guys are damn
good musicians.
Guitarist/vocalist Daniel Johns,
bassist Chris Joannou and drummer
Ben Gillies have already jumped to
the top of Australian charts with
their debut album "Frogstomp."
With recent local airplay and chart
success, they stand poised to stomp
all over America as well.
"Tomorrow," a mix of swirly
fingerpicking and heavier rock
riffs has received the most radio
play of any of Silverchair's mate-
rial. This song in particular high-
lights Johns' intense, er... Cobain-
like vocals and has drawn may
comparisons to the late Nirvana
head man.
The rest of "Frogstomp," how-
ever, is a jumble of noises.
Joannou's low bass line and Johns'
thrash guitar collide on "Israel's
Son." The band also rocks out with
the instrumental mosh hit "Mad-
man." "Shade" is stripped of heavy
guitars and super throttle drum-
ming and instead features Johns
wailing, "If you're hurt, why don't
you tell someone..."
Silverchair hops back and forth
between poignant ("Suicidal
Dream") and powerful
("Findaway") on "Frogstomp" and
ends up with an album that re-
fuses to sit still long enough to be
pinned with a "Nirvana rip-off'
label.
After all, Silverchair may be
young and attractive... but they're
no Bush.
- Kari Jones
See RECORDS, page 14B

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