This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jared Jacoby’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
“Saw a dinosaur in a museum one time. It wasn't that big.“
MINOR SPOILER ALERT
Based on the hit video game of the same name, Monster Hunter tells the story of Natalie Artemis who searches for a team of missing soldiers somewhere in the desert. Suddenly, she and her security team are pulled into another dimension where they find the remains of the missing soldiers. Then, they are attacked by giant monsters. After a brutal attack, Artemis must work with the Hunter in the weird world to survive and possibly return to her home world.
I know nearly nothing about Monster Hunter. My only experience with it is playing a few of the demos and fighting Rathalos as a boss in Super Smash Bros Ultimate. That being said, I was kind of interested in this movie. It is a monster action film with some cool-looking creatures and the weapons looked cool. I cannot say for sure how the film stands as an adaptation of the video game, but I just wanted a fun action film. Alas, this movie could not even get that right.
Monster Hunter commits the worst sin an action movie can do. It is boring as hell. The story is pretty cliched with the army being involved and the two people who do not get along have to for survival. What makes it more predictable is that you know that Mila Jovovich’s character is going to survive because it is a Paul W. Anderson film. They are married so he has made her the star of a lot of his action films. Knowing that, you will know she will be fine no matter how badly she gets injured. It takes away from the suspense. There are also some holes as well such as the relationship between Artemis and the Hunter. Artemis and the Hunter spend a good amount of time trying to kill each other, but Artemis suddenly says she is not his enemy. Keep in mind that this is after she spitefully throws an object at his keepsake and kicks him while he is tied up. I know that he started it, but he seemed to act more defensively than maliciously like her. As for Artemis’ team? Forget about them. Their dead within the first act. It just bothers me that they set everyone else on her team up to demonstrate what lies within the world of Monster Hunter. The dialogue is bad, the plot points are uninteresting, the characters are underdeveloped and the world-building is lacking. I never got a feel of the Monster Hunter world in this film. It is too focused on getting from one action scene to the next. The story is awful, but the characters are no better.
As for the performances, I never got the feeling that everyone was excited for this film as they said that they were. Milla Jovovich plays the same character as she does in the Resident Evil movies. Her performance in particular comes across as wooden as if she is talking about an uninteresting job opportunity rather than feeling the pressure of a deadly world. All of her allies are even worse. They just seem completely indifferent to the film they are in. There is this one woman who was shouting some cliched lines and it seemed like she was uncomfortable to even be on set. The only good performance here is Tony Jaa. He plays as the Hunter and his expressions, his actions and his personality stand out the most. He had the most fun out of this cast. Ron Pearlman… he kind of embarrassed himself here. He has ridiculous makeup on, his line delivery is stiff and he seems like he is giving a performance from a completely different movie. He looks like someone from a space opera, not a Monster Hunter film. The performances are awful with the exception of Tony Jaa. Jovovich and Pearlman are both much better than this.
I could forgive a lot of the narrative and character faults with Monster Hunter if the action and visuals were impressive. Unfortunately, this is one of the most dull and uninspired spectacles I have seen in a long time. Sure, there is plenty of action, but most of it is shot and edited poorly with jump cuts and closeups galore. Even then, the set pieces are just not that fun to watch. They seem rather generic despite the creative and solid creature designs lurking about. The best sequence in the movie is the first encounter with Rathalos. The scenery looks beautiful, the rain is incorporated perfectly and the lighting is on point. Even the editing is better. Sadly, it suffers from too much slow motion. Still, it is the only decent action scene in the film. As cool as Rathalos looks and he does look cool, he is not a very effective villain and his defeat is anti-climactic. The ending itself is quite baffling too as it ended once the movie was finally getting a little better. The cinematography is okay, but it is rather standard. There are some cool looking shots and the lighting is good, but some shots of the dessert look uninspired. The monster designs are very good. My only issue is that the colors look a little bland aside from some of the herbivore creatures. Some of the sets looked gorgeous, especially in the third act of the film and the spider lair. There is some great work put into the visuals, but the visuals cannot save the boring action and bland script.
Paul W. S. Anderson’s Monster Hunter is terrible. It has a few moments that show the sign of a cool movie, but it is ultimately a dreadful attempt at bringing a video game to the big screen. I really wish I liked this movie because I like action movies involving giant monsters and cool weapons, but this movie not only has a bad story, but even the action sucks. Stay away from this one.