It’s never fun to discuss something so lackluster about a franchise you hold in your heart.
Monster Hunter is one of my all-time favorite video game series. Bursting with so much charm, an insanely deep combat system, blending fantasy and realism wonderfully, and of course, the monsters. So it’s no shocker that I would be at the very least curious about the prospects of a Monster Hunter movie. Sure, live-action video game adaptations have earned the reputation for not being very good, but a little optimism surely can’t hurt, right?
Then I’d learned about the film’s director and the basic plot, which lead to my hopes going down the drain. I’m not the biggest fan of Paul W. S. Anderson. His early stuff shown some potential, at least, but ever since the Resident Evil film franchise got going, it’s a dud for me one after the other. And when you take a fantasy series such as Monster Hunter only to militarize it, a bizarre choice to adapt the series will leave me concerned.
And watching the final film had confirmed my fears.
It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but what we have here is well below average. The premise is just too absurd for my liking. There could have been so many ways to approach the source material, and turning it into an isekai plot with the military getting involved seems so lame. And the execution fails to make up for it. Nothing about the setting is really explored well enough for anything to really settle in properly. The characters display the bare minimum as far as personality is concerned, and any sort of meaningful plot structure is tossed to the wayside in exchange for monster carnage.
In theory, that sounds alright if only enjoy so dumb fun, but leave it to W. S. Anderson to bring back his frenzied, unreadable editing to make the action almost incompressible to follow. The action cuts so many times to the most random shots to the point where any impact the action could have is neutered. This is a film that stars Milla Jovovich and Tony Jaa. Two people who are quite talented when it comes to stunt work. There shouldn’t be anything to hide, but Anderson does because that’s simply the type of action direction he favors.
To be frank, the editing is the worst aspect of this film by far and almost makes it borderline unwatchable at times. It’s such a shame, too, since the monsters themselves look great. The designs are faithful to the games, and where their lore isn’t translated to the big screen all that well, at least they get to do cool stuff and unleash some sort of carnage. I like the monsters; I just don’t like watching them in this movie.
Simply put, Paul W. S. Anderson has brought the spirit of his Resident Evil series into Monster Hunter, and for all the worse. All of that charm and respect for the ecology for its larger-than-life creatures is lost when the director seems more interesting in creating a chaotic CG spectacle. It also tries to set up a franchise and the unfortunate promise that a sequel could end up existing.
I don’t want to sit through another one of these.