Monster Hunter

Monster Hunter ★★½

I hate to look a giant fanged roaring demonic gift-horse in the mouth, but someone forgot to add flavor to this kaiju-thwacking action horror extravaganza, and that someone is gamer-friendly ratty-versions-of-blockbusters-making director Paul W.S. Anderson, delivering yet another theoretically kickass yet actually extremely generic movie from a video game source. This one boils down to "Alice's Adventures in Monster World", about some soldiers who fall through a vortex into another dimension where monsters exist, so they gotta fight 'em. With big guns and big clubs.

To be specific, we meet 3 different types of monsters. For some reason, maybe because they're in an alternate reality, I expected to see a whole lot more species, but whether it's canon in the original game or an alteration he himself made, Anderson is an entertainer who even after 20+ years cranking out studio pictures (this is his 13th movie!) still has a very short reach of imagination, so once the initial potential here wears off and we realize we're going to spend the whole time in the same small patch of desert dealing with the same handful of critters, it feels a little like we've been cheated (coulda worked under different circumstances perhaps, but "Tremors" this ain't).

Maybe because these are plain monsters - one's a spider, one's a dragon, and the sand one is just a misshapen dinosaur. Though unveiled each time with appropriately large booming scale or imminent creep factor, they operate like standard predictable pop-up enemies in a game, and things are no better among the human roster - eventually it whittles down to just good sport bad-movie queen Milla Jovovich, his-foreignness-is-played-for-laughs Tony Jaa who doesn't perform a single crazy stunt, and phoning-it-in creature movie magnet Ron Perlman (hey I wonder if he resents Milla because she got to be in the last "Hellboy" movie). I mean, they're right for the material, but this script does them dirty with corny-bland dialogue, bad jokes and forgettable attempts to make each of them look cool during battle.

I know I sound like a real grump here, but even with such a simple streamlined premise ready to play with right out of the box, plus solid visual effects work and clearly crowd-pleasing instincts all around, this just comes off like monotonous junk. But then I felt the same way about Guillermo Del Toro's "Pacific Rim" so consider the source (also, as the connecting tissue between the two, maybe Ron Perlman is a curse).

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