Director Paul W.S. Anderson helms his third video game franchise film in Screen Gems Monster Hunter. Based on the same-titled Capcom video game series, Monster Hunter opens with a warrior named Hunter (Tony Jaa) on an adventure in a place known as the New World. He is separated from his team when Diablos, a subterranean horned monster, attacks their ship.
Meanwhile, in the "real world," Army Captain Natalie Artemis (Milla Jovovich) and her U.N. security team search for a missing group of soldiers in the desert. Her team includes sharpshooter Link (Tip "T.I. Harris), Dash (Megan Good), and Marshall (Diego Boneta). Unexpectedly, a storm transports them to the New World, where they discover the missing soldiers are now dead. Naturally, all of Artemis's team gets killed, and she's the lone survivor forced to team up with Hunter to save both worlds.
Let me preface my review by saying I've never played the video game, so I may not have been the film's intended audience. That said, Paul W.S. Anderson did direct one of my top video games to film adaptions with Mortal Kombat. Furthermore, I had a fun time with Resident Evil movies and never took them as more than popcorn entertainment. Sadly though, there was very little redeeming value in Monster Hunter.
Let's start with the script, which Anderson wrote, and his treatment of the characters Link (Tip "T.I. Harris), Dash (Megan Good), and Marshall (Diego Boneta). The movie casts three known names, all with respective fan bases, only to kill them a ½ hour into the film? On the one hand, maybe Anderson wanted to set up a motif of no one is safe, which I can respect, but I wanted to see more from these characters in some fashion. At most, Dash could've been left for dead and then popped up in the finale.
Then there's the handling of Links character, which T.I. portrays. As a former service member who has a fear of guns, there's a particular scene that has Link attempting to fire a weapon that even I knew was wrong. Milla Jovovich, on the other hand, is somewhat ok in her role. Monster Hunter is the fifth time Paul W.S. Anderson has directed Jovovich in a film (the two are married off-screen). So, naturally, they have a strong work bond.
Jovovich has spent the last twenty-four years doing action films and can do a role like this in her sleep. I also enjoyed Tony Jaa in the part of Hunter and his chemistry with Jovovich. Granted, Jaa didn't get a chance to show off his martial arts skills, but I'll let that slide.
I'm a firm believer that movies like this need a theater experience. Perhaps pre-Covid, if I had seen Monster Hunter on the big screen, I could have the feeling of it’s so bad it's good. There is an audience for Monster Hunter, as my twelve-year-old son seemed to enjoy it. I, however, didn't particularly care for the film. With obvious bait and switch casting, a hokum script, and uninspired special effects, the film is another tepid video game adaptation.
Final Grade D-