'Monster Hunter' Review: Video Game Adaptation Features Milla Jovovich Battling Big Creatures
Brought to you by filmmakers behind, uh, other film adaptations of video games and a slate of effects-heavy action, Monster Hunter stomps its way to screens that are near your eyeballs and nowhere near your turned-on brains. Just like with the video game franchise, you're promised hunters and monsters, both of which you do get at least so kudos for that. Paul W.S. Anderson directed and wrote the movie while his wife Milla Jovovich stars as Artemis alongside Tony Jaa who plays Hunter, which could be the character's name or profession, who knows really. Artemis is an Army Captain who gets sucked into a portal with her team, leading them into a world where colossal monsters lurk while Hunter has been there for a while before they cross paths. For what its worth, the film thankfully doesn't take itself too seriously for a hot minute but even that doesn't cover for the fact that the filmmaking present is dreadful, smothering even some of the talent behind it.
Whenever you work on something that has big CGI monsters and over-the-top stunts as your building blocks, you just need to lean into them as much as you can. Some kicks are to be had since Jovovich and Jaa certainly know what they are making here, they genuinely look like action stars that Monster Hunter desperately needs in order to be successful. Beyond just commitment, some creativity comes from the sound department too as the mix is solid, the roars are powerful and the world around characters is enhanced. You'd only wish that those mixers had a great musical score to work with but that part of the movie is just poor, timing makes it sound like a temp track and even some melodies seem to be an octave or two higher than they should be, considering the action on the screen. Perhaps it all was an afterthought or just rushed. Again, who knows really.
Setting our sights back to the plot and characters however, it must be noted that Anderson's work also lets Jovovich and Jaa down which is a shame. The dialogue is full of nuisances and jokes that just don't land, dramatic shift later on where we meet Ron Perlman's character comes from a different movie altogether and only the last 20 minutes deliver the monster hunting that's more than only solid. Too bad that during those 20 minutes, the film opts to set up sequels so this movie doesn't really have an ending. Perhaps the most perplexing part of the whole thing is what goes down in the editing room with Anderson and editor Doobie White - Jovovich is a decent action star and Jaa is superbly talented when it comes to martial arts and stunts, despite that the editing makes every action scene truly incomprehensible. We as viewers have no idea where the characters are situated, what they are hitting and what the speed is. It doesn't even matter what you think about the script you're working with, it's no excuse to drag your actors' performances down to that same level.
Smileys: Sound design
Frowneys: Editing, score, story, screenplay
Ron Perlman is in this? More like Ron Purr Lion Man. You'll get it if you see him.