Review – Monster Hunter (2020)

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Overview

Synopsis When Lt. Artemis and her loyal soldiers are transported to a new world, they engage in a desperate battle for survival against enormous enemies with incredible powers. Feature film based on the video game by Capcom. (IMDB)

Length 1 hour 43 minutes

Release Date December 3rd, 2020

 

Rating PG-13

Distribution Screen Gems

Directing Paul W.S. Anderson

Writing Paul W.S. Anderson

Composition Paul Haslinger

Starring Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Tip "T.I." Harris, Meagan Good, Ron Perlman

With Monster Hunter: Rise‘s release, it was time for us to review the movie from Paul W.S. Anderson. Somehow, Capcom and Screen Gems kept giving this man money to make a bunch of Resident Evil movies. While they are simple action movies and hold little value, they made money for those companies. Therefore, Capcom and Screen Gems have given him the reins yet again. The Monster Hunter movie is quintessential Anderson, so fans who want something more should look elsewhere. 

Content Guide

Violence/Scary Images: This is an action movie with plenty of violence. Characters use both modern and ancient weapons to fight monsters. Many of the people involved are either eaten, crushed, and burned by the monsters. Limbs hang from a monster’s mouth. Another scene shows the horn of a creature stab a person. Lastly, a man discovers he has eggs in his chest which later hatch and insects scatter out.

Language/Crude Humor: The word “s**t” is used on a few occasions. “Hell” is said in multiple situations, and God’s name is used in vain three times.

Drug/Alcohol References: Characters drink from a flask implied to contain some alcohol.

Sexual Content: None. 

Spiritual Content: A character prays to a shrine dedicated to their loved ones.

Other Negative Content: The portrayal of Tony Jaa’s character, the Hunter, follows the questionable foreigner stereotype. 

Positive Content: The film emphasizes the importance of teamwork to overcome obstacles. 

By the looks of this photo, you can’t tell they were filming Monster Hunter.

Review

Monster Hunter is centered around Lt. Artemis (Milla Jovovich) as she and a team of Army Rangers are on a mission. The movie begins with some exposition that desperately wants you to care about this unit of Rangers, backed by an Army marching cadence and an “Alright, ladies” meant to validate Jovovich is their commander. It isn’t long before they get hit by a sandstorm that transports them to another world—which technically makes this movie an Isekai.

Lt. Artemis eventually encounters a hunter (played by Tony Jaa) whose character is treated like a foreigner stereotype who lives a primal lifestyle and lacks intelligence. The movie could’ve centered around Jaa’s Hunter and the rest of the characters that Artemis encounters, pulled straight from Monster Hunter: World—one of them played by Ron Perlman.  However, much like Resident Evil‘s Alice character and the upcoming Mortal Kombat‘s Cole Young, this seems like a strategy used to bring in an unfamiliar audience. I don’t dislike this concept as much as I initially did, though it feels like nepotism to cast his wife in the lead role again.

Original teaser image.

Despite my grievances on what could have been, there were some moments in which I enjoyed watching Jovovich and Jaa work together, especially when they were killing creatures for their parts which represents the gameplay loop that the franchise is known for. However, their first encounter with one another is not friendly, including some fight sequences between the two that laughably last longer than they should. Another action scene that had me scratching my head was when Artemis was escaping a group of spider creatures called Nercyclia. She drops a bundle of bullets on a Nercyclia that’s on fire, and they proceed to set off as if someone shot them from a gun—I knew the answer but googled if that was at all possible. If you’re looking for dumb action, this is the right movie.

I was pleased to find that there was still much to appreciate about the film, even as a casual player of the video games. Locations that Artemis visits seem to be heavily inspired by places that players visit in the games, with the Oasis being one that I recognized instantly as a section of the Ancient Forst. A handful of shots will pan out to showcase each area in the film. As I wondered whether the movie’s final location was pulled from the games, I discovered this movie seems to be strangely faithful to the source material. Fans of the franchise might find a sense of familiarity when watching the movie.

Using the old wreckage to take down a Diablos.

Another aspect of the franchise they did right was the monster design. Each creature Artemis encountered was video game accurate. We get a good look at these monsters on a few occasions, but there are so many cuts within these action scenes that they became frustrating to watching. Those cuts were rampant during the fight against the Diablos, but later on, it seemed the special effects teams were more confident in their work as they showed off some more significant threats. This was an essential part of the movie to get right because these beasts that players hunt are the real stars of the video game experience.

I keep bringing up all of the faithful things to the source, but all of those things are why fans will bother to give the movie a watch in the first place. Lastly, I want to give praise to the costume design and props. The look of the characters from the alternate world and their weapons shows the team that made this movie had done their research. The fact they were able to pull off such a feat makes me long to see what a greater focus on this universe’s world and culture would have looked like.

Palicos are here too, just grizzled instead of cute.

One of my biggest problems with this movie was the ending. Just as it turns from a story of survival and heads into the lore and arguably more exciting parts, it ends. When we reach a certain point in the film, our heroes gear up for one more final battle, then as it starts, we cut away to an end title. The ending feels very presumptuous in such a way that the director chose to leave it open for a sequel in case he gets the opportunity to make more. Due to the current state the film industry is in, the idea of a sequel feels up in the air since every movie is underperforming.

With Monster Hunter, Paul W.S. Anderson didn’t care to evolve his craft; instead he just stuck to what he knew. If you’re looking for a simple-minded action movie and appreciate all of the references to the source material, your time might be well spent. Or, if you have a group of friends that like to sit down and roast movies for fun, this one is a prime candidate. When it hit digital retailers, I was eager to watch with low expectations and found myself more impressed than I had anticipated.

Positives

+ Set pieces
+ Monster design
+ Tony Jaa

Negatives

- Plot
- Laughable moments
- Cliffhanger ending

The Bottom Line

Though there are some callbacks to the source material that can be appreciated, Monster Hunter is a monster blunder.

 

5.0

L.J. Lowery

Born in southern California, but currently residing in Lafayette, Louisiana. Loves Hip Hop music, comics, and video games. Events/Media Coordinator, Podcast Producer, and Public Relations.

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