FILM REVIEW - Monster Hunter
By The Masked Medic
Man, these films are starting to pile up and I’m finding it difficult to make my way through them all, but I’m trying guys and that’s all that matters. Haha! So I thought about watching something superhero-based, perhaps continuing my MCU reviews or starting my DCEU reviews, but I’m not awake enough for that. That basically meant that I had to watch something that I didn’t think required much of my brain and I settled on the film adaptation of the popular video game series, ‘Monster Hunter’. Great name. I know.
‘Monster Hunter’ tells the story of a team of soldiers, led by their captain, Natalie Artemis, who during a mission to locate another missing team, find themselves in a strange land. Immediately they are set upon by a large monster which takes down two of the soldiers immediately. Escaping into a cave, the remainder believes that they are safe before they are attacked by a group of spider-esque creatures who pick them off one by one, leaving only Captain Artemis as the sole survivor. Distraught, she wanders the land and comes upon a man who lives in this world and fights these monsters. Initially, the two fight extensively before ultimately calling a truce and deciding to work together to survive this harsh place. From their vantage point, they can see a tower in the distance which looks like it is discharging lightning. They make a plan to get there, but unfortunately for them, in the way lies the monster which claimed the lives of Artemis’s team. Her new ally, who speaks no English, but she has called Hunter has come up with a plan to defeat this monster, aptly called Diablos. The two band together and pull off an epic kill. During the battle, however, Hunter is hurt, and Artemis uses the defibrillator that was in the army jeep that came along with them, to bring him back to life. As the two set out towards the tower, they find an oasis in the desert that has water and some other smaller and harmless monsters. During the night, they’re picked up by a group of warriors, who happen to be Hunter’s old friends. Their leader, The Admiral, tells Artemis that he believes the lightning tower is a portal between her world and theirs. They will attempt to take it down and ask for her help. Can these new friends help her get back to her world? And just what lies in store for them, protecting the mysterious tower?
Often I’ve found with video game adaptations, the list of people who are in the running for these films is from a rather select group. Our main protagonist, Captain Artemis was played by the steely Milla Jovovich. Jovovich was best known for playing hero Alice in the ‘Resident Evil’ films. Given that that series became the highest-grossing film series based on a video game, I’m sure that the directors felt that she was a safe bet. I had never seen any of her other films, but I do admit, if this is her typecast, she does do it very well. Acting alongside her was Tony Jaa who played Hunter. Now Jaa is another name that I’ve heard thrown around and I was aware of him without actually knowing who he is. When I looked him up, he’s a proper action hero. He was a martial artist, turned stuntman, turned actor. I can’t comment much on the acting, but from a stuntman point of view, he was excellent. The one thing I can however say is that even though his character spoke no English, he was still surprisingly expressive. The supporting cast was exactly that; supporting. They had relatively small roles and there were a few familiar faces. Diego Boneta, T.I. and Meagan Good played a few of the soldiers in Artemis’s regiment. The leader of Hunter’s group, The Admiral, was played by the seemingly unshakeable Ron Perlman. The guy is 72 and still doing these action films. Credit due.
Completely honestly, I watched this film at like 2 in the morning before I prepped for an evening shift. I assumed that it would be an easy watch and I was right. The plot is not complicated and anyone can watch it. If I start with the criticisms I have, I would say that the film has no stakes. I’m not expecting each film I watch to be a world-ending affair or the fate of the universe kinda deal, but I had almost no attachment to the characters or their stories. It was like watching something with indifference. Both main characters had good action scenes and sparks of character development, but I’m not sure there was much more there. However, that being said, I thought the graphics weren’t bad and some of those monsters looked pretty good. Relying on CGI effects to save a film very rarely pays off unless we’re talking about films likes ‘Avatar’ where the story is a little bit weak but the overall cinematography saves the film. I guess I found it difficult to understand who the target audience of this film was. There were certainly a couple of jumps early on and I wondered if it was going down the horror route, but then it mellowed out. There were some good fights between the human characters. But any interaction between them and the CGI’d monsters felt unnatural. I don’t know. I guess I just can’t imagine why anyone would choose to watch this film willingly. Is that mean?
If we are focusing on the cinematography then yes, I do have to give credit to the animators and designers for giving a realness to the aesthetic of the monsters. Certain scenes gave me ‘Transformers’ vibes, although not done as well. Towards the end, when all the heroes are battling the final boss so to speak, there are some really awkwardly shot scenes where it’s evident that it’s all CGI. Now I’m not saying the CGI has to be perfect, but especially when you’re integrating it with all the real-world scenes you’ve shot, it is important that it doesn’t look crap. When it came to the music, I was a little surprised. Often with these films, I’m not even aware of the soundtrack but this film did use music pretty well. Overall, it wasn’t an awful film, but also not one that I’d have chosen to watch at the cinema. I don’t think it will get a sequel, but you know, sometimes you just gotta let things go!