Monster Hunter

Monster Hunter

Having never played a Monster Hunter video game, it's likely there was only so much enjoyment I was ever going to derive out of a film based on it, but more fool me for at least expecting something technically competent and - movie gods forbid - fun.

Monster Hunter as written and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson and starring his ex-model wife, Milla Jovovich, is more of the cinematic dreck the pair served up through the back end of the Resident Evil film series. It eschews things like developed characters and a cohesive plot in favour of the next slow-mo riddled, imcomprehensively edited action scene featuring CGI which varies from competent to awful and hopes that if the featured monster roars loudly enough or there is a big enough explosion and/or stunt no one will give a toss about those things.

The film follows Jovovich's Captain Artemis and her small band of rangers as they search for a lost squad of their fellow soldiers in the middle of some endless desert, but doesn't bother to give any of the side characters anything more than a beat to distinguish them beyond their looks before the first of a set of raging monsters descends upon them. Even Artermis herself gets exactly two character moments - she's referred to as a bad-ass by her squad and she has a ring she carries around implying there's a significant other she wants to get back to - and that's it for the entirety of the film's magnificently bloated 99 minutes. Consequently no shits are given when her squad starts to get picked off, and it isn't long before Artemis is teamed up with a local monster hunter (as we reportedly finally get into the territory of the game) to try and survive the place they find themselves stranded.

Said hunter is played by Tony Jaa, but he gets to bring very little of his martial arts prowess to the screen, besides one painfully extended fight scene between he and Artemis which is edited within an inch of its life and serves no narrative purpose other than to establish that they're different. A point which is established about 87 more times after said fight scene.

Truly, this script might be one of the worst ever translated to the big screen, as the two characters now learn to work together to survive the hellish realm they find themselves in, but without words because at least they don't speak the same language. So when dialogue does occur, it is painfully awkward and on the nose, with Jovovich in sleep-walk mode, imbuing her character with nothing beyond a "I'm tired of this shit too" vibe.

And then, when you think the film can't get any worse, it devolves into absolute farce with Ron Pearlman popping up as a local but sounding exactly like an American (even if his wig is almost worth the price of admission alone), while expositioning his way toward the inevitable proposed sequel. A sequel which is not just teased but flat out demanded with a hilariously over the top credit sequence which leaves a perfectly sour aftertaste for the journey home from the theatre.

Oh and there's a completely CGI cat character who is meant to act as some form of comic relief, but makes those Tom Holland monstrosities from earlier in the year seem almost welcome by comparison.

To be fair, one or two of the action scenes contain some thrills, but it's difficult to convey how big a turkey Monster Hunter is with mere words. Instead it is one of those films you almost have to experience for yourself, knowing that you might just be able to derive some perverse pleasure out of it being so bad, it's almost - almost - good.

1 Comically Large Bone Sword for Monster Hunter.

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