Monster Hunter (2020), Milla Jovovich, (Fantasy/Horror Movie Review)

Monster Hunter (2020), Milla Jovovich, (Fantasy/Horror Movie Review)
5 10

PLOT: Milla Jovovich is an army lieutenant who gets sucked into a universe full of mythical monsters, Ron Perlman in a weird anime wig, and Ong-Bak himself, Tony Jaa. Here she must fight the impossible to make it back home alive.

LOWDOWN: Let me get real for a second and come clean. I have never played the Capcom game Monster Hunter or any of its sequels. I walked into Paul W.S. Anderson's film adaptation Monster Hunter, hoping for a fun time and maybe an interesting story. My expectations weren't very high as Mr. Anderson hasn't hit his amazing career-high of the '90s since, well... the '90s. I dug the original Resident Evil and have loved Jovovich since her turn as Leeloo back when Bruce Willis gave a shit. Ah, how times have changed, eh? But I wasn't exactly sold on the trailers, so all I could do was hope for the best. So how does Monster Hunter hold up?

Things start off pretty wacky with a pirate ship sailing through the desert while its crew fends off a Graboid-esq Triceratops with Captian Ron Perlman looking comically anime as the man in charge (which is GREAT, btw). This bizarre sequence is fun and quickly establishes the world and tone, only for the film to cut to the dull and bland army crew. Can we kill this military trope yet? Back when Schwarzenegger and Ventura did this, it was fresh, but that well dried up a long f*cking time ago. Instead of a cartoon cat and Ong Ong-Bak fighting CGI fantasy creatures, we spend the first chunk of the film with stock characters in uniform talking tough. *sigh*

Artemis (Jovovich) and her tactical unit are out on a vague mission when they get transported into another desert world, only this time we have alternate dinosaurs and dragons roaming around looking for a fight. It becomes clear how dangerous this new world is when her team meets a quick and deadly end. Why bother as we already established the world with sand-sailing pirate ships. Make that movie, please! Jovovich can play bad-ass in her sleep, and seeing her try to survive the night against giant spiders in cool but generic at the end of the day. She doesn't have any purpose except that she's in the army. That's her entire character, and besides a joke here and there, it's a waste of a great actress.

The action sequences work when the monsters are involved. The Hunter (Jaa) and Artemis have a visually stunning fight against the sand-dwelling creature that would be the first boss level in a game. Anderson knows how to shoot action, and I'm all for a bright and sunny monster fight, keeping everything clean and clear. Where things go to shit is the hand-to-hand combat and anything that deals in close combat. The editing here is some of the worst I've seen in a major release. Artemis and The Hunter battle it out more than a couple of times, and because Jaa would kill Jovovich in mere seconds, things are cut to make it seem like she's on equal ground. That and every swing and punch is edited for maximum effect, and it falls apart spectacularly.

GORE: Not much here, folks. Even the monsters don't really bleed.

BOTTOM LINE: I was hoping for a campy and ridiculous horror-fantasy film that would at least be a fun watch, but that didn't end up happening. Tony Jaa is wasted as The Hunter, who plays second fiddle to Jovovich's Artemis. I don't know who decided to bench Jaa, but this should have been his film. Even with the videogame character taking a backseat, they fumbled through the mythology and monster fights instead of focusing on certain fantasy elements and the world itself.  Paul W.S. Anderson is a talented guy, but I would like to see him tackle something more intimate. I'm over this bigger-is-better approach. Monster Hunter isn't terrible, but it sure should be a helluva lot more entertaining than it is.

MONSTER HUNTER Opens In Theaters, Friday, December 18, 2020.

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