Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 43 minutes, Director – Paul W. S. Anderson
A group of soldiers find themselves transported to the middle of an endless desert inhabited by deadly, towering monsters.
When it comes to the scaly, fire-breathing beasts of Monster Hunter the big screen absolutely helps emphasise their towering nature. It adds to the ensuing action and certainly benefits the film during such moments. Unfortunately, where the big screen can’t help is when it comes to the narrative of Paul W. S. Anderson’s latest video game adaptation. After pretty much her entire team is picked off in rapid succession in the first 15 minutes soldier Artemis (Milla Jovovich) is determined to find a portal back home, out of the mysterious, endless desert she seems to have been transported to without explanation. However, the various monsters that inhabit the landscape appear to be the one thing standing in her way – particularly as, for the most part, we largely see her battle one monster.
Unable to do this by herself she begins to form a quiet partnership, mostly due to a language barrier, with Tony Jaa’s Hunter. For the most part the film is a two hander, and with the lack of conversation between the pair there doesn’t seem to be room for long amongst of time spent properly focusing on them as characters not in a fight for survival. Quieter moments don’t properly click and simply feel like brief intervals in-between action. Even during such quieter moments a casual fight appears to break out between the pair just so there’s some form of action occurring on the screen. Even in the second half of the film, as the narrative makes some bigger progressions, the film feels as if it’s adding scenes and ideas simply to push the run-time to that of a feature length. At 103 minutes, including credits, it feels far too long and never properly manages to engage you because of its drawn out style, where we never properly get to engage with the characters.
During some of the bigger combat sequences Anderson appears to attempt to get across a video game style into the action. And there are certainly a number of shots that look and feel as if they’ve come from Capcom’s successful franchise. However, these begin to add up and remove some of the flair by making the film look, and feel, like an extended cutscene, an issue which is widely brought up when it comes to video game adaptations. The further effect is simply that of an increase in disengagement with the film. The scale of the threat is only shown in its size – again, pushed by the effect of the big screen – in comparison to Jovovich and Jaa’s heavy gunfire and homemade swords taller than themselves – and therefore many of the action scenes within Monster Hunter lack tension, particularly because of the film’s fairly predictable, and generally thin, nature.
Seemingly not wanting to focus on characters for very long Monster Hunter simply looks and feels like a drawn-out cutscene.