Monster Hunter is based on a video game series or, rather, its title is based on the name and font of a video game series. From what little I’ve played of the games, modern-day military officers being sucked into an alternate dimension with airplane-sized monsters isn’t part of the canon. Besides carrying over some made-up names, monster designs, and props, this movie goes its own way entirely.
Actually, that phrase wrongly insinuates the presence of inspiration so great that no existing laws of adaptation could hold it back. The film is more the case of a half-assed, one-size-fits-all scenario that could have been fitted to any purpose but was molded in the image of Monster Hunter to bank on its popularity as a brand. Corporate logic aside, none of this means the picture has to be bad. It could have fallen into the calloused hands of the inspired. Great storytellers can make page-turners out of paperweights, whether through their hyperacute eye for meaning or their mesmerizing sense of style. Monster Hunter did not fall into such hands. It didn’t fall into any hands. It hit the ground and rolled into an open sewer where rats nibbled on it until dead.
Everything goes down in a white desert. Natalie (Milla Jovovich) and her ever-shrinking crew of expendable nobodies are thrust from one deadly encounter to another. There’s no plot; it’s just survival. With the stark desert setting, lack of narrative, and endless action, your mind—out of comparison or desperation—wanders to Mad Max: Fury Road, which can exist without a story in the same way that a guy juggling chainsaws on a unicycle isn’t in need of context.
“Natalie…and her ever-shrinking crew of expendable nobodies are thrust from one deadly encounter to another.”
Not only does Monster Hunter lack the violent elegance of that 2015 modern classic or a short-lived street performer, for that matter, but it compensates for said deficiency by blowing out your senses. The movie probably has more rapid edits than a YouTuber’s review of it. The soundtrack accompanying the action is filled with endless screeching—it’s like dial-up internet mixed with a chorus of airplane babies. Or imagine Hans Zimmer falling asleep behind his synth and his giant forehead slamming every button at once.
Ron Perlman is in the film just long enough to be credited. He wears a blond, scruffy wig that makes him look like a dead ringer for the Cowardly Lion. He makes some faces at a green screen and then lays down some exposition that I went to the bathroom during. I don’t remember his character’s name.
Monster Hunter is red meat to any cynical moviegoer of the modern age looking for exhibit A. It’s been commodified and globalized to the point of nonidentity. The bigger the audience, the broader the film, the blander the result. With all the commotion, it’s possible that people could walk out of the movie feeling like they got their money’s worth. If you eat a leather boot, you’ll feel full.
"…like dial-up internet mixed with a chorus of airplane babies."