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Monster Hunter – Movie Review

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Monster Hunter – Movie Review

Rating: D (Very Bad)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Sony Pictures

It’s not easy to adapt a video game into a movie, as several examples can attest to. How do you take the interactive experience of moving a character through a variety of obstacles and turn that into an entertaining movie? With Monster Hunter, director/writer Paul W.S. Anderson (no stranger to video game adaptations) tries his best by plunking Milla Jovovich’s Army Captain Artemis into a world full of giant creatures. While the monster designs are quite impressive, the story is largely a bore and it’s hard to be invested with how thin the characters are. Not helping matters is the choppy editing that makes the action scenes disorientating.

The movie doesn’t waste any time with pulling us into the alternate dimension, although all that really needs to be known is that there are giant monsters and they are bad. The designers deserve credit for coming up with all sorts of beasts that menacingly walk or stomp through the screen. The visual effects are also impressive. However, as fully realised and three-dimensional as the computer-generated monsters are, the protagonists don’t bring much to the table. Artemis’s unit are mostly given jokey lines and reaction shots before they’re completely dispatched. Artemis herself has no personality to speak of, so it becomes difficult to care about her making it out of this situation alive.

There are a few glimmers of possibility with seeing Artemis use her survival skills when left alone to fend for herself. However, those moments are short-lived. She’s primarily paired up with Tony Jaa’s unnamed hunter, but they share little chemistry even as the movie attempts a comedic buddy relationship. Ron Perlman also shows up as another human fighting the monsters and while it’s always nice to see him in something, his primary role is to spout exposition. Most of the time, we watch characters wander around a sandy landscape reacting to things or battling monsters. This likely stems from the video game, but it doesn’t necessarily make for an interesting film narrative.

Where Monster Hunter mostly disappoints is in the action. There are cuts every few seconds, which makes many scenes difficult to watch. The camera also has a tendency to shake. This makes it very hard to appreciate the stunt choreography. It seems like a waste to have stunt teams practise action scenes for so long, only to have work chopped up and not filmed in a coherent manner. Paul Haslinger opts for a 1980’s synth sound for the score, which does give Monster Hunter a different soundtrack than we’re accustomed to hearing in modern special effects blockbusters.

There was the possibility of Monster Hunter just being a big dumb entertaining popcorn muncher. It’s okay for a movie like this not to approach high art. However, outside of some inventive designs, there’s little on screen that’s actually engaging and once you’ve seen one monster fight, you’ve seen all of them in this movie. It’s nice that Milla Jovovich has found the sorts of roles she likes doing and she seems to enjoy working with Paul W.S. Anderson. Monster Hunter does give her the opportunity to act in a number of solo scenes. The action is just boring to watch and nothing about this is fun, even in a silly way.

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE