Movie Review: Monster Hunter
Visual flair only takes a film so far, but director Paul W. S. Anderson has yet to grasp that. Adapting video games to film for the better part of two decades, Anderson and various studios have coasted along on the relatively comfortable notion that fans will lap up anything even vaguely connected to the IPs they love to play. Their love for the product manipulated and churned into a contemptible piece of film, more often than not the outcomes are so bad they’re fun. But Monster Hunter, the latest Anderson and Milla Jovovich collaboration, has none of the entertainment value that can be found elsewhere in this cursed genre, trading it in for a semi-serious, poorly charted attempt at committing the latest video game trend to film.
Always behind the curve, Anderson and his crew put pen to paper after the initial bubble of love for the game has popped. For a film based on heroes battling monsters, the sky is very much the limit. Considering the endless possibilities that present themselves in both design and character, it is a shame to see Anderson offer up the most practical, predictable solutions on hand. His direction has not improved since his earliest projects. Event Horizon is feeling more and more like it was ghost directed by someone who knew how to craft a thrilling bit of horror. His big-budget antics with monsters and zombies has steered him well so far, collating a strange cult following for lovers of video games and brainless entertainment. But the snooze-inducing ridicule he finds himself creating, either accidentally or with venomous purpose, is truly unpalatable. Crane shots and shoddy action camerawork, the few scenes that aren’t glistening with rain or unsteady camerawork are just as bleak and predictable as the script that provoked them.
Variety is necessary in a film that wishes to cling to its massive monsters and turgid heroes. Artemis and company are swiftly cut through, leaving only Jovovich to fight these massive beasts. That would be a spoiler had these supporting performers’ combined screen time been more than a brisk twenty minutes at the start of the film. They are the cannon fodder used solely to build up a threat that will later be vanquished by the lead and her new band of friends. Tony Jaa and Ron Perlman appear in these supporting capacities, offering nothing particularly memorable or brutally horrible. Assimilating themselves into the background and trying to make it through unnoticed, the two are provided less than ample material to work with, and try their best to make it look like they’re not phoning in every line of depressingly bland dialogue.
Audiences, most likely, do not care for the emotional throes and pacing of these blank slates. Neither do the cast. They shuffle through the deserts firing their weapons at vaguely accommodating creatures of villainous, large proportions. An opening twenty minutes dedicated to killing off most of the cast, and then a remaining hour and twenty to fumble around the landscape of quick-cut choreography and a troubled leading character looking to adapt to the new world around her. Anderson steals from Alien in more than just lighting and attempted style, but in vanquishing the beasts of the screen and how they appear too. His best efforts at providing an adaptation of Monster Hunter, a game he has an apparent passion for, is to cut through a bland landscape of browns and greys and deliver a series of events that will have even the most rabid fans scratching their heads at just what exactly has happened.