What is there to say at this point about the works of Paul W.S. Anderson?
Even when he was making marginally more creative films like Event Horizon and Soldier, his works still him squarely in the B-Film side of Hollywood. Since then he became the central creative of the long running Resident Evil franchise and directed empty Hollywood blockbusters like Alien vs. Predator, Death Race, Three Musketeers and Pompeii.
In summation, Anderson is Hollywood’s blandest genre director. His movies lack form and function and exist as empty spectacle for mindless action fanatics the world over.
And you know what? That’s fine! I love B-movies in the right mindset. Movies like these exist for a reason. Sometimes people want empty calorie films and these films fill that void.
As such, I went into his newest film Monster Hunter with sub-zero expectations. I just wanted to see a movie with cool monsters on screen, cool gore effects and another central performance where Mila Jovovich runs around doing her action-chick routine without expressing any human emotion.
That’s pretty much what we got.
As the movie starts out, a team of special ops soldiers are searching on the desert for another missing team of soldiers. When the team are teleported to another planet filled with massive monsters, the soldiers are picked off one by one until only one is left. At this point, she is left to team up with a local native to fight her way to a tower where the two of them can get home.
As I’m aware, the film is based on the internationally successful Monster Hunter video games which follow characters in a fantasy world where they slay monsters to gain access to tools so they can slay larger and cooler monsters. As I’m aware, the games are pretty massive and vibrant experiences with dozens of colorful monsters of all sizes and shapes and fantastical worlds to explore.
That’s what makes the world of this film adaptation alittle disappointing. Most of the film takes place in a desert plateau where the characters are trapped by a giant sand beast that attacks any creatures that try to leave the island. Any creatures on the island are also attacked by scorpion creatures that capture their prey and use them as hosts for their eggs.
That sequence proved rather grizzly but hardly original. Anyone who has ever seen a science fiction film like Alien has seen this exact pitch. Monster Hunter doesn’t even square up with second rate ripoffs like Pitch Black or Riddick. There’s no tension. All we get out of the film is empty spectacle.
Things do pick up alittle later in the film where things start getting bonkers. We meet a pirate crew with a cat person and bunch of warriors who fight with fire swords against a giant dragon and a bunch of dinosaurs. Ron Perlman even shows up with a Goku-style haircut! Sadly this stuff is mostly reserved till the last act of the film.
Space Pirates and dragons sound cool but they’re expensive and it’s clear a film like Monster Hunter only has enough money for a few minutes of action spectacle.
That final few scenes does go for broke through. The surviving characters and Ron Perlman’s space Pirates get into a massive duel with the largest monsters we’ve seen yet and the scenes are pretty fun. That said, they get weird and predictable quickly.
The scenes also get weirdly uncomfortable. There’s a weird final action beat which really doubles down on the unnecessary large body count. For a movie that otherwise engorges itself in military fetishism, it sure kills ALOT of American soldiers in brutal and cruel ways during the final battle (the movie was produced by TenCent so maybe that’s the Chinese influence showing a bit…).
If you’re just looking for a dumb action movie, maybe Monster Hunter will interest you right about now. Considering your choice for action films right now in theaters are this or Wonder Woman 1984, take your chances…