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I’ll be honest and admit I didn’t get into the Monster Hunter franchise until a few years ago when Monster Hunter: World was released. I enjoyed playing the game when I did, and it was only a matter of time before some sort of media based off of it would come around.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson returns with his wife and star Milla Jovovich right where they left off with the Resident Evil films in Monster Hunter. It’s a flawed film to be sure, but it hits just the right points to keep it from being a complete dumpster fire for both fans and those who enjoy action films.
Jovovich stars as Captain Natalie Artemis, a stereotypical no-nonsense, bad-ass Army Ranger in charge of a military team sent out to find another group of theirs that seemingly vanished after sending a distress call. It doesn’t take long for them to find out what happened to the other squad as they get magically whisked away into another world, the monster hunter world (see what I did there?). From here Natalie’s team gets picked apart by some of the nasty creatures of this strange land until she’s the only one left.
Meanwhile, a hunter played by martial arts star Tony Jaa is looking to get revenge on one of the biggest and scariest monsters out there called Diablo, and just so happens to come across Natalie in his search. At first the two don’t get along and fight, and it doesn’t help that they speak different languages. But they soon settle down and become allies against these wild monsters and team up to make a plan to take out Diablo and get Natalie to a magic tower that will take her back home.
Even after that adventure they quickly learn there are far deadlier, scarier, and most importantly, bigger monsters out there. Thankfully they get some help from other hunters that just happen to show up that are led by the Admiral (played by a very worn looking Ron Perlman) who wants to get Natalie back home as he doesn’t like people from her world invading theirs.
Even though I didn’t have any expectations going into this movie, I had a feeling that it was going to be a “turn your brain off and munch on snacks” kind of film and I was right. It has its fair share of flaws, from the cheesy acting that Milla and the other actors that play her team do as they try to drum up camaraderie that comes off extremely forced and cringe-like.
There’s also plenty of bad, quick-cut editing (especially when Jovovich and Jaa first fight each other, good luck following any of that), and Anderson over-using slow motion while draining out the audio at “critical” parts in the film such as when the team gets teleported to the monster world. These things will have most viewers shaking their heads and rolling their eyes as you’ve seen it done so many times before and done better.
Thankfully there are some saving graces here. I have to say I was impressed how some of the signature weapons and tools from the game series made their way into the film. Some such as the Switch Axe and Slinger (it even uses the grappling hook), to the rotisserie spit roast tool you use to cook meat in the game is here and accounted for.
It was also fun to see the famous cat-like palico, Meowscular Chef (complete with cooking sequence) and even the ditzy handler from Monster Hunter: World make an appearance, which is sure to bring a smile to fans. The special effects aren’t the best, but they’re more than serviceable and get the job done, and the music is typical fast-paced but forgettable fare, much like most of the movie.
It’s not one of the best video game film adaptations, but Monster Hunter has just enough going for it to merit a watch, but don’t expect anything after that. I did like how the ending and mid-credits scene hints at a sequel featuring more elements from the game series that could be a monstrous follow up if done correctly. But as far as this one goes, most will come for the monsters while fans will stay for the fun Easter eggs.