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Movie Review

It was billed as the bout of the year ... Anastasia versus The Little Mermaid. But when the bell sounded, both animated heroines took a box-office sucker punch from the vacuous martial arts sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, which debuted at number one and earned $16.8 million opening weekend—much of that coming from young boys nonplused by cartoon princesses.

Based on a series of violent arcade games, and picking up where the first Mortal Kombat movie left off, Annihilation is nothing more than a series of Bruce Lee-style showdowns between acrobatic humans and otherworldly fighters with special powers. Story points aren't important (there seems to be some cosmic problem with "open portals" and "merging realms"). Let it suffice to say that Earth's destiny hangs in the balance.

Messages promoting self-confidence, teamwork and the power of the human spirit take a backseat to non-stop action, overblown visual effects and a deafening soundtrack. The brutal, though relatively bloodless fight sequences are especially disturbing when the combatants are seductive young women. But that marriage of violence and sexuality isn't the film's only problem. Eastern philosophies, sorcery and polytheism are woven throughout its paper-thin plot.

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