Monster Hunter

Monster Hunter ★★

Watched in the cinema (12th visit in 2021)

For years, the film business has been booming with successful comic book adaptations that have become indispensable in the blockbuster sector. Video game adaptations, on the other hand, always have a hard time, disappoint with their box office takings and are usually anything but good from a quality point of view. Even promising projects like "Warcraft" or "Assassin's Creed", which were equipped with a rich budget and on which talented filmmakers worked, could not change this. Director Paul W.S. Anderson's "Resident Evil" films at least made the box office ring and were a partial success. So is he the right person to take on the adaptation of the next brand from Capcom?

"Monster Hunter" is a popular video game series in the action-role-playing genre, which has continued with "Monster Hunter: World" and the recently released "Monster Hunter Rise", which thrilled millions of video gamers. With so many fans, a suitable film is a natural choice from an economic point of view, even though I assume that the strength of the games does not lie in the story. So for a film you have to get a little creative, which can only go wrong if Anderson writes the script himself. His film doesn't even bother to set up anything exciting and simply aims to have humans and monsters clash quickly, no matter how. The trappings don't matter, which is unfortunate, because the exotic fantasy world offers plenty of opportunities for exciting world building. At no point does Anderson take advantage of this opportunity; we learn next to nothing about this wondrous realm with its mysterious inhabitants.

Instead, the initial focus is on a troop of soldiers from our world who are torn through a portal to the other plane. Not the most original way to start a film, after all I want to see warriors with absurdly large swords or wacky bows in a "Monster Hunter", not an immersion-breaking elite unit equipped with grenades and machine guns. The fact that the characters are also completely pale and one-dimensional only makes matters worse, you could hardly be more indifferent to them. Unfortunately, this also applies to the main character Artemis, who is played as tough and cool as usual by Milla Jovovich, but has no more qualities than that. At least she harmonises quite well with Hunter, a local who is played sympathetically by Tony Jaa. Although his role is also very limited, it is occasionally enhanced by a little humour, which makes for a rudimentary fun duo.

"Monster Hunter" plays to its strengths when the creatures take the stage. They are surprisingly well animated and largely correspond to their original in design and behaviour. Anderson makes a loud noise when they clash and stages the action quite well. But if you consider how complex the battles in the original are, the film makes things a little easy for itself. Tracking monsters? Laying traps? Exploit weak points in a targeted manner? Obtain effective weapons? Or even take a palico (feline creature) into battle? None of that exists here. Of course, a film is allowed to go its own way, but with the one chosen here, Monster Hunter then again feels very arbitrary and unexciting.

It's also a pity that so many creatures don't appear at all, probably in the hope that they will be included in possible sequels. But since there are more than enough to choose from, they could have found their place here in one form or another, even if only in passing, in order to further promote the neglected world building. Precisely this could have increased the desire for sequels. But that doesn't seem to have been a priority in this quick commissioned work.

From a purely visual point of view, "Monster Hunter" cuts a good figure by staging the action scenes in a respectable manner and by presenting well-animated creatures. It's just that the whole shebang is rather weak. It lacks well-written characters, an exciting story or successful world building to create enthusiasm for the alien realm. The latter in particular could have been achieved with a closer look at the original. In the end, "Monster Hunter" is just another video game adaptation among many that is quickly forgotten.

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