Jacob Richardson | 1/01/2021
The definition of ‘no effort’.
Artemis (Mila Jovovich) leads her military unit in search of another that dropped off the face of the earth. Suspicious of an attack, they search for clues - only to be swept up in a terrible storm that drops them into another dimension; an alternate reality where monsters are very, very real. As the team fights off big horned beasts, massive venomous spiders, and much more, they team up with The Hunter (Tony Jaa), and try to find their way home.
Monster Hunter does exactly what it says on the box, and literally nothing more. There’s no plot here to speak of. Everything is a macguffin, with no reason for existing other than to give the characters something to do. Big lighthouse with lots of lightning? Sure, no need for any explanation - the characters just know they have to go there. Boats that ride on sand? Again, no need to explain. Being beaten over the head with exposition in other movies can be really tiring sometimes, but here even the merest crumb of exposition would have been appreciated. Perhaps we are too used to the world building energy of everything from Lord of the Rings to Mortal Engines, because the utter lack of interest in this world from every member of the filmmaking team made its presence known.
From a performance perspective, everything here is lacklustre and disinteresting. Jovovich and Jaa have little to no chemistry, and both feel like they know they are working with trash. The only bright spot is a bearded, viking-esque ship’s captain played by Ron Perlman. He brings a manic but also overconfident energy that actually manages to imbue the film with a bit of fun, but also a bit more believability. It’s hard to believe Jovovich’s over-serious Captain Artemis wiedling a comically oversized sword or wearing the leather hide armour, but it isn’t difficult to envisage Perlman’s character, as swagger-filled as he is, jumping around with a blade 4 times longer than him.
Monster Hunter should be fun, and in some respects it is, mainly because it’s simple - there isn’t any plot to be confused by, it’s just a couple of people swinging big sticks and shooting big guns at monsters. The issue is that so little effort has been put in, it winds up being unenjoyable. It’s a testament once again to the fact that video games don’t translate to the big screen. Perhaps the monster this film was hunting was future video game-to-movie adaptations, and if it was, then it has definitely got more chance of killing those than it does of generating a sequel.
The anti-Tenet, this plotless movie is aggressively dumb.