PG Score: 4.5/10
Monster Hunter opened in theaters on 12/18/20
The audacious couple, Paul W.S. Anderson/Milla Jovovich, is back at it with another project to make the eyes of gamers and moviegoers alike twitch. While there are a few bright spots, Monster Hunter is unable to elude the clutches of the video game curse.
The unsurprisingly basic plot follows Lieutenant Artemis (Jovovich) and her squad as they are suddenly transported to a new world after a routine mission goes awry. They must quickly adjust to their new surroundings and fight for survival against lethal monstrosities.
A Game-to-Film Veteran
Anderson is no stranger to video game adaptations. He helmed four of the six Resident Evil movies, took a stab at Mortal Kombat, and is now trying his hand at Monster Hunter. His past outings have been met with mixed reviews from both the gaming and film communities, with the last few entries in the Resident Evil franchise especially targeted. This time around, the writer/director has been adamant about proclaiming his fidelity to the source material. To his credit, there is at least one element in the film that substantiates his assurance.
The monsters are the main reason most people will show up to the theater to begin with, and the creatures do not disappoint. The CGI is strikingly satisfying and exhibits the massive beasts’ raw ferocity. The sheer scale of these brutes combined with creative choreography makes for exciting cinema.
Unfortunately, there is only one action sequence that truly fires on all cylinders. The remaining set pieces are substandard fare that are only slightly elevated by the captivating and faithful creature design. They are drowned in an unabashed tidal wave of slow-motion cuts that are equal parts nauseating and infuriating. It is incredibly disappointing that the action scenes are not consistently engaging, and the climax is a major letdown. The shortage of dazzling spectacles in Monster Hunter makes the memorable fiends feel like wasted potential.
Aside from the quality CGI, nearly every other aspect within the sluggish 99-minute runtime ranges from subpar to abysmal. Even for a plot that revolves around a group of heroes waging war against subterranean baddies, the writing is juvenile and terrible. The dialogue seems like it was written by a group of kindergartners and edited by third graders. While clearly not intentional, its brazen implausibility is good for the occasional laugh.
In addition to Jovovich, the ragtag cast of Monster Hunter includes Tony Jaa, Meagan Good, Clifford “T.I.” Harris Jr., and an absolutely ridiculous looking Ron Perlman (the true depth of his hilarious appearance needs to be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated). No one has anything that resembles a good line to work with, and most of the actors don’t seem too invested in their roles. Given the bland characters they’re assigned to portray, it’s hard to blame them. If the word “standout” can ever so generously be applied to this travesty, then Jaa is it. He provides some desperately-needed vigor in his depiction of the quirky hunter and has sporadically notable chemistry with Jovovich. The two share a lot of screen time together and while much of it feels awkward, there are a few decent exchanges.
Another Swing and a Miss
Paul W.S. Anderson has again misfired in a failed attempt to effectively adapt a beloved video game franchise. The striking visual effects don’t come anywhere close to counteracting the film’s blatant inadequacies. The Monster Hunter series deserves a worthy big-screen brother, but this certainly is not it.
PG Score: 4.5/10
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