Monster Hunter Movie Review

Written by R.J. MacReady

Released by Sony Pictures

monster hunter poster large

Written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
2020, 99 Minutes, Rated PG-13
Released on December 18th, 2020

Milla Jovovich as Artemis
Tony Jaa as The Hunter
T.I. as Link
Meagan Good as Dash
Ron Perlman as Admiral

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What happened to Paul W.S. Anderson?

I’m not saying he was ever the greatest director, but there was a time when he could make an entertaining movie. The first Mortal Kombat. Event Horizon. The first Resident Evil. Soldier. Even Alien Vs. Predator has some moments.

But man, this guy is not getting better. The last couple of Resident Evils that he directed are unwatchable.

It was with these thoughts that I went out and caught his newest movie, Monster Hunter. I didn’t know much about it other than that Anderson’s wife, actress Milla Jovavich (The Fifth ElementResident Evil, is once again the star, and that it is based on a video game about some guy with a ludicrously-large sword that fought monsters. Could be fun, I thought.

The film starts fast without much build-up. A team of soldiers led by Artemis (Jovavich) is traveling through the desert when they see a crazy-looking storm approach. They try to get away, but this thing is huge and fast moving, and it sweeps over them and whisks them away to another planet that is not very hospitable. A giant monster moves Tremors-like under the sand and attacks, decimating most of the team and their vehicles.

A stranger, played by martial-arts legend Tony Jaa (Ong-bakThe Protector), who carries a ludicrously-large sword (yep) shows up and saves her, but then finds himself at odds with her over various contrived problems before they finally decide to work together to whisk her back to her home world.

Where do I start with this mess?

I guess we can start with the lead, Jovavich. She’s a decent actress, but this whole new movement where we cast attractive actresses as the leader of some elite military unit has GOT to stop. None of them are believable, and I can’t pinpoint exactly why they don’t work. Maybe it’s the try-hard lines where they call the actual badass men around them “Ladies” in an attempt to show how tough they are or maybe the actresses didn’t have enough pre-training to walk the walk. All I know is, if Sigourney Weaver was in charge of an ultra badass group of military men, I would not question for a second that she could do it, but people like Megan Fox in Rogue or Jovavich in this movie simply read as fake.

I let this one pass, as I usually do when I watch what’s supposed to be a fun popcorn movie. I’ll give them more leniency than usual.

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The next flag is the problematic design of the main monster. It’s huge, a creature that moves on all fours and has a head with enormous horns like Tim Curry in Legend. That would be fine, except this thing dives into sand and moves underground as if it were a Tremors worm, which makes it the least aerodynamic thing to move underground since John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield Lane. They don’t help their movie when they actual steal some gimmicks from Tremors, like throwing a stick at the sand to see if the monster is still there, which draws it out.

That is all minor stuff that I set on the side burner as I watched, but they were building up pretty fast. There are some action scenes involving giant spider monsters, and it was during all of this that I really started getting concerned. When did director Anderson forget how to choreograph a fight scene? It’s all shaky-cam, fast-cut action where you have no idea what’s happening. It doesn’t look cool and it doesn’t make you enjoy the experience. It’s lazy filmmaking. It’s shoot a bunch of shaky close-up stuff and hand it to the editor to salvage what he can.

The “plot” of the movie is nearly non-existent, and Tony Jaa is criminally-underused. At a certain point Ron Perlman (Hellboy) comes in for what’s essentially an extended cameo, and then there’s a CGI cat creature that I have to imagine is pulled from the game because I can’t see any other reason to introduce it.

By the time the movie ends, it seems like nothing more than an attempt to set up a line of sequels – and hey, stick around for the after-credit sequence if you want to see the cat-dude hiss! Seriously, that’s all the after-credits scene is.

Ultimately, Monster Hunter is not the fun, light popcorn movie that I was looking for. (For that, I recommend checking out the far superior Love and Monsters.) Instead, Monster Hunter is a movie that feels longer than its 99 minutes, has decent CGI monsters but no interesting characters, and features nothing but poor action sequences. If you’re drunk and it makes it to Netflix, maybe it would be worth watching.

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Movie: 1.5 Star Rating Cover

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R.J. MacReady
Staff Reviewer
RJ MacReady digs horror movies, even though his first memory of horror films is watching the first Friday the 13th movie while a bear mauled his family in the other room. He admits that most of his bio is as fake as his moniker, but witness protection won't let him use his real name.
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