As a fan of the Monster Hunter video game franchise, I was skeptical when I heard that Paul W.S. Anderson was going to be writing and directing a film adaptation. Adding to that skepticism, it was also announced that Milla Jovovich was going to be the lead protagonist.
This isn’t the first time for the husband/wife team has adapted a video game franchise for the big screen. They’ve been involved in the Resident Evil movies since 2002. Debatably, those films aren’t great cinematic award winners.
Neither is Monster Hunter (2020).
Jovovich plays Lieutenant Artemis who leads a squad of Rangers into the desert to discover what has happened to a squad that had vanished prior to the start of the film. Predictably, what happens to the first squad happens to Artemis’s squad. They are transported to another world where giant monsters prey on humanity. Those monsters prey on the squad and soon Artemis is left to team up with a native that doesn’t speak her language. Together, they must find a way to work together to defeat the monsters and return Artemis to her home world.
If you came to the movie hoping to watch a 1 hour, 43-minute film filled with character development or a serious attempt at a story, then you’re going to be disappointed. However, if you wanted to watch epic battles against three or four types of monsters that increase in size and toughness then you’ll be happy by the end of the film. Because those are the pros and cons of this film.
The biggest negative aspect is the lack of character development. With a small cast of ten, you might expect that some of the characters receive a moderate amount of story building. The two main characters, Artemis and The Hunter (played by Tony Jaa), receive only a few minutes of time devoted to their backstories. Even then, we only find out that The Hunter has a wife and kid that have died, and Artemis has a ring, presumably a wedding ring, that she keeps in some sort of Altoids tin. Jaa’s character doesn’t even have a name. That’s about it as far as character development.
The fight scenes between the humans and the monsters were great, the best parts of the film. Which shouldn’t be a surprise at all since the name of the film is Monster Hunter. With each monster, the battles become tougher and longer.
If you’re a fan of the video game franchise, then you will most likely enjoy the care Anderson and his crew take in adapting the game into the film. From the monsters to the weapons and fighting moves used, to a few other easter eggs, it does a good job at pleasing fans. If you haven’t played the games, then you may or may not like the film.
Ultimately, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the film overall. Sure, there wasn’t much character development. However, the film gave audiences what it promised: monster hunting.