1.5 out of 5 stars
If you take the time to look through the list of films that have been based on video games, most would not be recognised by non-gamers. Most filmmakers have struggled to transition the storylines of these interactive worlds to the big screen. These structured narratives usually fail to bridge the mainstream viewers' gap even though they have a built-in audience and long-term fans. One franchise that has been a shining light in this market is Resident Evil. This moderately successful series with Milla Jovovich as the main protagonist and her husband, Paul W. S. Anderson in the director’s chair has spanned over 15 years. As their six-film run concluded, the couple needed a new storyline to fill their time and it seems that Monster Hunter has managed to fill that void.
In this multi-world gaming series, Jovovich takes on the role of United States Army Captain Natalie Artemis who is leading a team to find missing soldiers in an undisclosed desert. While the Ranger squad is investigating their colleagues' disappearance, an electrical sandstorm sweeps over the soldiers' small band. After the winds and lightning subside, they find themselves in a new world where large beasts rule the land and humans are merely pawns played within a life and death struggle.
This well-trained group of Rangers discovers that their conventional weapons have little effect on these new gargantuan enemies. The only solution is for them to seek out help from the local human population. Eventually, Captain Artemis gains the confidence of the Hunter (Tony Jaa). This man is trying to get back to his people as they attempt to reach the Sky Tower that links their two worlds. This new level of warrior helps the Army officer learn how to use this alternate world's weapons and the monsters' nuances surrounding them. These two unlikely allies must battle the packs of spider-like Nerscylla and large-horned Diablos in their pursuit of survival as they work together to do all they can until they reach their destination and find a way back to Artemis’ world.
For the Capcom video game fans, this will be a deep dive into their favourite world of monsters and the battles they must endure. Paul W. S. Anderson does all that he can to develop the visual landscape and atmosphere synonymous with Monster Hunter. The video game creators manage to reimagine dinosaurs and how this world's sands serve as the oceans that all travel through to reach their destinations. By investing in the visual effects as a mirage, the seasoned director can hide his anaemic script and physics-breaking logic familiar to this genre.
Milla Jovovich proves that she still can carry a film with her physical prowess and not her strong acting abilities. Between the writing and Tony Jaa only speaking Thai throughout the film, there is little to be celebrated in the dialogue. Still, they do establish some chemistry worth considering and do provide the only laughs in the movie. Ron Perlman (Hellboy) works to bring some gravitas to the feeble dialogue, despite wearing a wig fashioned after an 80s rock band. Yet, it is the monsters who rule this world and this film. When these beasts are on screen, this screenplay is at its best, but everything falls in on itself when the humans take over. This proves that this is a storyline that is best left to the gaming world. Few people outside of devoted Resident Evil groupies or Hunter's fans will embrace this as a new franchise in the making.
REEL DIALOGUE: Why do we think we can control creation?
For some, it is a means of proving their intelligence; it might be how they desire to exert their power for others. While for a small group, it is merely a curiosity that must be explored.
One of the answers to this question of control can be found in the study of the Bible. Based on the creator God's premise, who made all mankind in his image, it is no wonder that creation would want to create and control what is produced. This desire manifests itself in art, food, clothing, housing and even into the sciences. There are many moral juxtapositions to wrestle through in this consideration of life. Still, the very desire to create and then control their creation is ingrained in humanity.
The challenge is that God continues to prove that he is the only one to get it right when it comes to real creation and its management. Is the desire to overpower this world's creatures merely a lesson in futility or something that is too irresistible for mankind to deny? Discuss.