Monster Hunter

Monster Hunter ★★★½

I don't think of myself as somebody with any intellectual investment in the concept of "vulgar auteurism", but a fella gets swept away by enough Paul W.S. Anderson films, and he has to start to wonder about himself. This is probably his "best" film to date: terrific CGI, an outstanding synth score by Paul Haslinger, three wonderfully unsubtle, popcorn movie-scaled performances by Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, and Ron Perlman (Ron Perlman in a Paul W.S. Anderson film is such a no-brainer collaboration that I'm a little shocked it took this long), suitably loud sound design that gives all of the giant monsters their own sonic personalities, and high-speed editing by Doobie White that is so much clearer and more purposeful than in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Though I do prefer the fearlessly ludicrous Three Musketeers even so.

Could be that I'm just starved for popcorn movies after the long 2020, but I think this one would have worked for me no matter what: it's clearly in love with the story it's telling and treating it with weight, but there's also a palpable sense of goofball self-amusement, and it has a remarkably high success rate at trying to frame self-consciously iconic shots of actors posing with weapons. Honestly, the only real problem here is that it takes so long to arrive at any location that's not just an empty, cloudless desert.

(Full review at Alternate Ending)

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