Review: Lousy video game adaptation 'Monster Hunter' an almost watchable trainwreck
Courtesy of Sony
From the opening sequence featuring a leather vested Ron Pearlman as a sand pirate evading a giant worm to a bumbling SyFy effects driven conclusion, Paul W.S. Anderson’s video game adaptation “Monster Hunter” is an entertainingly bad movie. It’s like watching two trains about to collide on the tracks. You know what’s coming, but you can’t look away.
In a nutshell that’s what “Monster Hunter” accomplishes and is proud to flaunt it. There are some decent creature feature effects, and a techno score by Paul Haslinger that implies its audience played the video games, but its hokey finale sours any goodwill that came before. At least it tried, which is more than you can say for most video game adaptations.
Anderson’s wife, and muse, Milla Jovovich plays the battle-hardened Natalie Artemis, a U.S. Army officer whose leading her brigade on a routine desert operation when a sandstorm – for reasons unexplainable – transports them to another dimension. The monster dimension (gasp!)
Populated with cheesy effects and skyscraper sized beasts that make “Jurassic Park” small by comparison (but not nearly as fun), “Monster Hunter” turns into a quest for survival. After a slew of causalities, Artemis links up with “The Hunter” (Tony Jaa) whose first instinct is to capture her as bait, but the two fend off monsters and bond over their love of chocolate. Problem solved.
The action in “Monster Hunter” is non-stop and might entice fans of the series, but don’t expect serious character developments or pointed dialogue beyond: “Shoot!” “Cover!” and “Watch your back!” Artemis and The Hunter are glorified NPC’s with enough dexterity to get out of a sticky situation, and when Pearlman shows up late in the game with a CGI feline chef aboard his rigidity ship, you might want to concede there.
Additionally, the lore and mythology of the franchise is hardly defined and some of the battle sequences cut by editor Doobie White gave this viewer whiplash. A handful of fine supporting actors – Tip “T.I” Harris, Meagan Good, Josh Helman and Diego Boneta – collect easy paychecks to get mutilated off screen. Meanwhile, Jaa – an accomplished martial artist – gets to parkour occasionally, but the visual approach doesn’t do his talent justice. Jovovich has always been a badass thanks to her role in Anderson’s “Resident Evil” franchise, but even she looks misplaced next to these cheap CGI creations. What’s worse is Anderson opted for a PG13 rating when a more dismemberment friendly R rating would have made this (admittedly) watchable schlock fest more enjoyable.
MONSTER HUNTER opens in theaters Friday, December 18th
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