VOD film review: Monster Hunter (2020)
Chris Bryant | On 20, Sep 2021
Director: Paul WS Anderson
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ron Perlman, Tony Jaa
Video-game-movie power couple Paul WS Anderson and Milla Jovovich make their fifth picture together with Monster Hunter, which takes inspiration from the Capcom series – pitting a group of military men and women against deadly, gigantic creatures in an otherworldly wasteland.
On the one hand, Monster Hunter isn’t, objectively, a good film. On the other hand, does it meet the expectations of Anderson and Jovovich’s previous efforts, or the efforts of the world at large to translate a video game experience to the big screen? Also probably not.
Embodying a first-person, visually-gripping adventure, by its nature, puts the viewer in a relatable position – playing a game makes you care about the outcome. The same, however, isn’t necessarily true of cinema; films require the script to craft empathy and draw a viewer in, and Monster Hunter spends no time at all doing this.
Pitting shamefully two-dimensional characters against uninspired CGI monsters – repeatedly wasting the effortless cool of Jovovich and the limitless talents of Tony Jaa – Monster Hunter is a literal blur of action most of the time, which serves to irritate rather than disorient. The tedious bond between the two leads is certainly the weakest point of the piece, their infuriating inability to communicate drags throughout most of the 103-minute running time, and concludes with a rushed training montage before heading into the jaws of the overstuffed final act.
Anderson has described the film as a “passion project” since being linked to it in 2012, and his words have undeniably been proven half-true – watching Monster Hunter is a project. Will audiences be alienated by the lack of character logic? Will they switch off due to the endlessly fuzzy fight scenes? Or the copious exposition forced into the final 30 minutes?
While Anderson’s work with video game adaptations may not have a stellar record, or appeal to broader audiences, it must be beyond doubt that fans of creature flicks and video games alike can agree there’s simply nothing special about his newest effort.