Review: Monster Hunter (2021)

Monster Hunter is a feature film based on the popular video game by Capcom.

PLOT AND STORY

When Lt. Artemis and her loyal soldiers are transported to a new world, they engage in a desperate battle for survival against enormous enemies with incredible powers in an attempt to return home. That about sums up the entire movie.

Video Game adaptations are always difficult movies to crack but you should at least try to make a point to your movie. Paul W. S. Anderson writes and directs this movie teaming up with his Resident Evil lead Milla Jovovich and we end up with a similar entertaining yet hollow result. Monster Hunter I feel plays great homage to the game and gets a lot of the action and monster scenes right. This however leaves the rest of the movie to suffer because quite frankly, there is nothing else to it.

At the start of the movie we meet a group of Army Rangers in search of a missing squadron. During this opening sequence we meet the team, we learn about their lives and what they have at home waiting for them. This is what I expected to help drive the rangers’ determination to get home when they are transported to the new world. I was however wrong because this never gets mentioned again and I feel this is where the movie could have offered a little more emotion and depth to the story by clinging to the desire to see your loved ones again. The movie lacked dialogue as a whole but failed to install any real purpose to it other than they want to get home because they don’t want to die.

This is a movie which lacks character development and a genuine plot. I know this is a video game adaption but I kept thinking to myself how much this actually feels like one giant cut scene from a game rather than a movie. Paul W.S. Anderson isn’t new to this genre having written and/or directed Mortal Kombat and multiple Resident Evil movies and I believe he has listened to feedback from those movies that they need to honor the games more but in doing this the story development has suffered.

PRODUCTION AND DIRECTION

My review might seem all doom and gloom but I will point out that I did enjoy this movie for the simple fact the setting, monsters and action sequences were very, very good. I won’t say the CGI was perfect because there were a few scenes which looked a little odd to me, but generally it was of a high standard. We only meet 3 or 4 different types of monsters but their designs were very good, detailed and as realistic as could be expected from 100 foot high monsters. On top of that are the weapons our hunters use to battle these monsters. Large, over the top, extravagant swords and axes with magical powers (which unfortunately don’t get explained or explored) look awesome and will please fans of the games.

Large parts of this movie are set in the desert and it looks great which has to be down to the fact they actually went to remote locations across Africa to shoot this movie. Doing this and adding CGI monsters creates a much better final product than the whole movie being shot against a green screen. I would argue that this is a good example to use from a production point of view, especially when you compare it to similar movies over recent years like Hellboy which was CGI on top of CGI on top of CGI which looked a mess. Monster Hunter is big screen monster action which looks great. 

The movie is incredibly fast paced with a runtime at only 103 minutes (including credits) and although the story lacks depth it doesn’t fail to keep the audience engaged. From the opening minutes to the final scene (literally) there is some form of fight or action scene on display. A very action heavy movie that manages to execute both gunfights and hand to hand combat with skill and precision. 

CAST

In the lead role as Captain Artemis is action heroine Milla Jovovich who yet again gives everything to the role. No matter how a movie turns out you always know you will get 100% from Jovovich which she yet again proves here. Almost 25 years after she burst onto the scene in The Fifth Element you still get the same dedication today and remain the unrivaled number one action leading lady in Hollywood. She can deliver big action, high impact scenes believably with such a high level of beauty that the only comparison I can think of would be Charlize Theron.

Second on the call sheet and the only other cast member worth talking about was Tony Jaa in the role as Hunter. Unsure if that was his character’s actual name or just the name associated with him due to the language barrier with Artemis. I remember watching Ong Bak nearly 20 years ago and telling anyone that would listen that Tony Jaa was going to be the next big thing in Hollywood martial arts. Things didn’t exactly go the way I expected but now with the Fast and Furious and XXX franchise under his belt his performance in Monster Hunter again proves why his talent is so incredible.

The only other character who had some impact on the movie was Ron Perlman as the Admiral who I would love to see get a bigger role in a sequel if that’s the direction Sony decides to take.

The cast also included performances from T.I, Diego Boneta, Megan Good, Josh Helman and Jin Au-Yeung. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

On the surface some people might call Monster Hunter a bad movie but it really isn’t. It’s a classic video game adaptation movie which packs one hell of a punch. If you come to this movie looking for a deep meaningful story with compelling characters then you will be disappointed. But if you come to this movie looking for a fun, action packed, entertaining way to spend 90 minutes then I promise you will not be disappointed. I also think fans of the game franchise will get a good kick from this.

I watched this at cineworld as part of my Cineworld Unlimited subscription and received no incentive to review this movie.

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