Monster Hunter Is More Than Just the Sum of Its Cobbled Together Parts

Dept. of Warriors and Wyverns


The history of videogame movie adaptations is littered with the carcasses of those who misjudged the wider appeal of the source IP, or just missed the point of it entirely. Street Fighter, Doom, Need for Speed, Rampage, and the dour, boring Assassin’s Creed film, weren’t just bad adaptations, they were bad films.

There have however, been slightly more successes than failures lately. Both Sonic the Hedgehog and Detective Pikachu managed to honour their inspirations while working as entertaining films in their own right; although Sonic required a fresh coat of pre-release CGI paint to do so.


So how do you go about adapting the Monster Hunter franchise to the big screen? Especially considering the game’s focus on the process of hunting giant dinosaur style creatures over plot.

If you are Paul W.S. Anderson, himself no stranger to both successful and unsuccessful videogame adaptations, often within the same series, you assemble a grab bag of great moments and ideas from a litany of movies, Frankenstein them together and paste over any cracks with stunning location work, the always dependable Milla Jovovich, and impressive giant monsters courtesy of the very best CGI Capcom, Tencent, and Toho can buy.

How To Kill Your Dragon

From the original (and still one of the worst) video game adaptations, 1993’s Super Mario Bros. Anderson lifts the conceit of taking people from “our world” (a title card actually calls it this) and somehow transports them to the world of the game. In this case Army Ranger Captain Artemis (Milla Jovovich), and her squad, find themselves transported from the desert of Afghanistan to a much sandier, weirder desert, while searching for a missing ranger team.

Competition Time

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From James Cameron’s Aliens you take a cast of distinctive, wisecracking grunts, who the audience can quickly bond with, and make them struggle to deal with a situation that is way above their pay grade. While you’re at it, take the flare lit sequence where Ripley infiltrates the alien queens nest from the end of the film, and chuck it in for a mid movie set piece establishing the stakes.

Finally, going all the way back to 1985’s Enemy Mine, take the trope of two enemies who can’t understand each other, slowly earning each others trust as they work together to survive, with martial artist Tony Jaa as the misunderstood native of this world. Season with some nicely physical fight scenes between Jaa and Jovovich, add some impressive monster design, and simmer.


Does Monster Hunter amount to more than just the sum of its cobbled together parts?

For the most part, yes, actually.

From decades of starring in Anderson’s (and others’) films, Jovovich is adept at not just delivering outlandish nonsense with a straight face, but really selling it. And she easily carries the film. As good as she is with the various monsters, her reaction to Jaa eating lichen is absolutely priceless.

Her fights with Jaa are well staged and exciting, with a great sensation of physicality and weight, although I have no idea why Anderson decided to stage four separate scenes of actors being flung around inside flipping vehicles.

While the majority of the film is a double header between J and J, the main draw for fans will be the monsters themselves. I can’t speak to how faithful they are to their in-game counterparts, but the Diablos, Rathalos, and their monster kin all look great.

Is That You, Ron?

A burrowing Diablos stalks J and J for the majority of the film, impressively doing so in the full glare of the desert sun, which would usually highlight every flaw in the CGI. It still manages to look impressive and Anderson uses the starkness of his South African locations surprisingly well.

At night they avoid attacks from the nasty spider-like Nerscylla, while the mighty Rathalos gets smaller screen time during the films climax, along with a few smaller monsters along the way. (Apceros? Gajau? I-don’t-know?)


Slightly less convincing is the fright wig get up foisted upon poor Ron Perlman who I didn’t recognize at first. Apparently he’s supposed to be a character from the games, but once he brandishes his giant weapon he looks more like an ancient, weathered Cloud Strife than anything else. Fans will (might?) also be happy to see an appearance from Meowscular Chef, but despite being aware of the Palicos as a concept, this meant nothing to me but still worked as a fun, if odd, gag.

Slightly more baffling for non-fans are the unexplained sand sailing galleons, and the bladed weapons that generate fire or lightning, but there’s nothing here to ruin your enjoyment of this fun monster mash.

With a few jump scares thrown in for good measure Monster Hunter is a step up from many of the later entries in Anderson and Jovovich Resident Evil films. Considering how long that series coasted by on lacklustre films, Capcom and Co. are obviously hoping for multiple sequels for Monster Hunter too. To this end they throw in an unexplained shadowy figure observing events at the end of the film while finishing with a sequel baiting ending that mimics that of Anderson’s own adaptation of Mortal Kombat! Even if a sequel never materializes, this fits almost perfectly with a similar ending to Super Mario Bros.

For a fun return to the cinema Monster Hunter shouldn’t disappoint fans of either the game or of Milla Jovovich, as long as you temper your expectations accordingly.

Monster Hunter is now showing in Malaysian cinemas.

To be in with a chance to win a bag of Monster Hunter goodies check out our competition here.

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

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