“Monster Hunter” is a lack luster stumble, yet another falter-step in a long line of video game movie adaptations.
The film, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, is based on the popular video game series of the same name produced by the company Capcom. The film stars Milla Jovovich of Resident Evil as Captain Natalie Artemis, a U.S. Army Ranger sucked into an alternate universe where humans co-exist with gigantic and towering savage beasts, the titular monsters in “Monster Hunter.” After her and her squad are transported to the “New World,” they are immediately ambushed by horned subterranean monsters called Diablos. The monsters kill some of Artemis’ team. After ducking into a cave for shelter, the team is attacked once again, and Artemis meets the Hunter who teaches her how to kill the monsters. She continues the fight against these creatures with the Hunter and others.
There are almost no good video game adaptations in movie format. It’s just inherently hard to do. Video games are an interactive medium. They are designed to have input from its audience: the player. Movies on the other hand are the exact opposite. They are designed for the audience to sit down and watch it go by without any input into how the world unfolds in front of them. They serve two very different functions. That being said, that does not provide an excuse for a video game movie to be a bad movie. If anything, that is more challenge for a good director-writer team to make an enjoyable cinematic experience. The writer-director team of “Monster Hunter do not succeed to this end.
The biggest issue comes with the premise itself. “Monster Hunter” is a video game about players taking on the persona of the Hunter and hunting down and killing monsters. That seems simple enough, but the problem comes when Anderson doesn’t inject any real narrative spunk into it. The movie cannot stand on its own with that premise alone. Anderson makes almost no pains to provide his audience with a tangible plot other than “action girl kill monsters.”
Another facet of this issue comes in the form of a lack of worldbuilding. The Monster Hunter games are rich with lore developed over years. This film doesn’t dip its toes in that luscious pool for information. The most we get is from the Admiral, portrayed by Ron Perlman of Hellboy, a leader figure to the Hunter. We don’t see him until we’re a considerable portion into the film and his contribution amounts to an extreme infodump of exposition.
The final nail in the coffin comes from the climax of the film. Artemis finally has to confront the Rathalos, the so-called King of the Skies. The Rathalos is essentially your run of the mill medieval fire-breathing dragon. The confrontation should be completely awesome, but its just a huge letdown. The issue isn’t Jovovich either. She’s an action star through and through. It’s with the direction and special effects.
Ultimately, the movie is not something to write home about whatsoever. If you were planning on seeing it, I’d say skip it and stay home. “Monster Hunter” receives a D rating.