Out with one Capcom franchise and in with the new. Paul W.S Anderson finally finished his Resident Evil series back in 2016, and let’s be honest, it didn’t go all that well with most. Whilst it has a sizable cult following, to the rest of us, it was another video game adaptation that completely missed the mark. Though I respect the Resident Evil series of video games, especially recent ones, I wouldn’t call myself a fanboy of the franchise, however there is one Capcom series I hugely admire and that’s Monster Hunter. So when Paul W.S Anderson announced Monster Hunter as his next film, alarm bells immediately started ringing in me. Maybe though he had learned in lesson from Resident Evil, maybe this time he had learned to respect a series and not turn it into cheap action. My worst fears about Monster Hunter were not only confirmed, but they were worse than I could have imagined.
Monster Hunter for a long time was a series with a niche audience, the games weren’t widely known as other Capcom games were outside of Japan. But with the release of Monster Hunter: World in 2018, the series made the leap to the mainstream where it’s fanbase has grown exponentially. Much like anything whose following grows, it was ripe for exploitation and that is what Paul W.S Anderson has managed to do with this film.
If you have played any of the Monster Hunter games, you will know that the stars of the show are the monsters themselves. With a catalogue of unique creatures to use, fans should have been foaming at the mouth as to which monsters would make an appearance rather than thinking about how bad this film would be. But I have to give credit where credit is due, the monsters in this film are respectable. It was a bit of a shaky start at first because the Black Diablos sequences weren’t too special, but the introduction of the game’s poster child Rathalos, the action starts to impress. Plus, unlike the majority of CGI in Paul W.S Anderson films, the monsters are pretty well rendered so there’s no complaints about that from me.
That’s as far as I can complement the film because in the long run, the film cares extraordinarily little about a lot of things important to fans of Monster Hunter. Of course, the main appeal of the games is the monsters, but just as important as that is the world in which they occupy. The games are filled will beautifully designed environments for the monster to inhabit, which offers up a completely different type of eye candy. The New World in the games is a fantastic display of creativeness, The New World in the film is completely lifeless. Over half of the film is set in a desert environment with little to no natural structures that offer up any sort of wow factor. Dull dunes, dull cliffs, dull caves, can you guess the running theme here? Even when we move away from the desert to an oasis, there’s no time at all to appreciate the natural beauty before we’re plunged into a night scene.
The monsters, while a positive, are a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to variety. You have a literal collection of interesting creatures to use, each with unique behaviours, abilities, shapes and sizes. So how many will fans of the games be treated to? Six. Six monsters. That simply just isn’t enough. Look at something like Pokémon: Detective Pikachu where you had Pokémon wandering in the background, making the world feel more alive. Obviously you’d want to avoid having a contest to see how many you can put in the film, but a little more variety would have gone a long way.
Characters were never a huge priority in the games, but fans remember them because they had eccentric personalities which added to the enjoyment of the games. The Monster Hunter film on the other hand laughs at you for thinking its characters could be this eccentric. Artemis (Milla Jovovich) is a US army ranger who learns the ways of The New World from enemy turned ally Hunter (Tony Jaa), but when you get right down to it, she is just an action genre trap, the same lone hero action character you’ve seen her and other play so many times before. There are also things alluded to her character, such as her keeping a ring in small tin, that are never explained.
The biggest issue I have about the films characters is that the friendship between Artemis and Hunter accelerates from enemies to allies in the blink of an eye. In one scene, the two are fighting with the intention of killing each other, Artemis even says “I’m going to kill you” with intent to do so, but then after a good scrap where Hunter is about to be dragged away by Nerscylla monsters, she saves him, and they become friends quickly after. I literally did not know what to think after that scene, the decision to save him is just completely wrong with Artemis’ actions before. Also, Hunter begins at this mysterious figure discreetly guiding Artemis and her troops to safety, another lone wolf type character, but after he and Artemis become friends, he immediately becomes the comic relief of the film. The film treats him like some sort of caveman, with Artemis introducing him to chocolate in the films hopes that it’s enough to make up laugh (it isn’t).
The film at least has the decency to also include characters from the games, predominantly Monster Hunter: World, including The Handler (Hirona Yamazaki), Aiden (Jannik Schümann) or Excitable A-Lister to the video game fans and The Admiral (Ron Pearlman), the latter of which is the only one who actually does things. Now was it just me, or did all these minor characters look a bit animated? I swear each person had very polished skin and
I haven’t even gotten to the editing yet, which is classic Paul W.S Anderson. If you were a fan of the choppy, film the action at every angle editing style of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, which I’m certain is no one, congratulations you get the same here. A lot of people like to pin the blame of Paul W.S Anderson for most of his misfortunes, but the film’s editor Doobie White needs to take equal amounts of blame as well. Along with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (which he also edited) this is one of the biggest mockeries to the art of editing I’ve ever seen.
It has been indescribably terrifying to follow the news of this film, you had the highs of the filmmakers having the go ahead from Capcom, but also the whole debacle with Chinese sensors. I’d like to say that now that I have seen this film I can breathe a sigh of relief and not hear from it again, but I can’t. The terribleness of this film is ingrained into my memory. I’m surprised as a super fan of the Monster Hunter games; I haven’t yet developed a twitch from this film. It is just plain awful, and not in the sense wherever the action can entertain you. The film leaves on a cliff-hanger, and I seriously hope that it never gets resolved.
Final Result: 1/10 – Dreadful
Have you seen Monster Hunter? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Fast & Furious 9