Director – Paul WS Anderson
Cast – Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Clifford TI Harris, Ron Perlman
Rating – 3.5
Monster Hunter, written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, is based on the video game franchise of the same name. It follows US Military Captain Artemis (Milla Jovovich) and her team who are sucked into the New World while inspecting the mysterious disappearance of a group of soldiers. They come face-to-face with various monsters and are picked apart one by one until Hunter (Tony Jaa) comes to their rescue. The movie’s biggest assets are its use of visual effects, special effects, and the ability to merge the line between practical and CGI settings. And while Jovovich and Jaa give their best to make a mark in your mind, Anderson’s directions and Doobie White’s editing will make you forget all about it.
Paul WS Anderson cannot even be trusted with recycling old material, which is ironic, because he only makes garbage. Many films are ripped off in his latest sensory assault — the bluntly titled Monster Hunter — each with less grace than the last.
Faced with the reality that he doesn’t have the Resident Evil series to malign any longer, Anderson set his sights on another Capcom franchise. Had it not been for Covid-19 and a cruel twist of fate — a joke in Monster Hunter offended Chinese audiences, aka the only people who had the power to save it — you could have been sure that they’d release one of these every year for the next decade.
You’ve got to hand it to Anderson, though. He aims big. Monster Hunter opens with a desert chase that appears to have been cobbled together from discarded Mad Max: Fury Road storyboards, and dares to include an Apocalypse Now homage. Francis Ford Coppola nearly died making that movie; you might go belly up watching this one.
As elite soldier Natalie Artemis, Milla Jovovich redefines what it means to be a ‘long-suffering wife’ as she suits up, once again, only to be lobbed around in a film directed by her husband. Anderson shoots Jovovich, a groundbreaking action star in her own right, as if she is a machine of war. I’ve seen Michael Bay film (doomed) phone booths with more passion than how Anderson designs action sequences around his lawfully wedded wife.
Not once, for instance, can you be sure that she is even in the middle of the action herself — such is the ineptitude with which Monster Hunter is cut. That the editing in this film is the handiwork of a man named Doobie White is the icing on the cake. He has to his credit some of the most godawful action movies in recent memory — the Neveldine/Taylor atrocity Gamer, in which Michael C Hall affected a slave owner accent; and Polar, in which Johnny Knoxville gets assassinated during third base.
Watch trailer here:
No happy endings are there to be found in Monster Hunter either. Not only does Anderson do his wife dirty, he also wastes Tony Jaa, who, in essence, is the titular hunter of the monsters. Instead of allowing Jaa to express himself as he knows best — imagine him leap-frogging over the backs of the horned Diablos, like he did with elephants in Ong Bak — Anderson subdues Jaa’s skills by quick-cutting around him.
There’s a cursory, video game-inspired, mission-oriented plot — Natalie and The Hunter must go on a quest to a Sky Tower, battling a collection of monsters along the way. There are training montages scored to synth rock music, and a quick cameo by Ron Perlman, playing Kurtz-lite.