Video games and movies have a storied history together. The many attempts to try and translate a narrative built around games to one revolving around a linear story often do not work out, and it is why so few video game movie franchises can stand the test of time or even get a sequel.
Arguably, the most successful adaptation is the Resident Evil series from console to movie screen. Not necessarily because the films were good or even a faithful adaptation of the game, but rather because it somehow found the staying power to stick around for many movies and appease fans of the games with its mediocrity.
You can’t fault Paul W. S. Anderson for his love of the genre, having made his feature film debut back in 1995 with Mortal Kombat, and now he’s back at it again, trying to create another hit move franchise out of the popular Monster Hunter video games. Can Anderson and lead actor Milla Jovovich strike gold once again?
Before the reviews came out, the answer was probably going to be no, considering the controversy around a racist joke that has offended Chinese audiences and stopped the movie from releasing in what would’ve easily been its biggest market.
Without China and with most the world not ready to go back to cinemas just yet thanks to COVID-19, this movie was likely going to tank anyway. According to the first reviews of the film that have started to arrive online, it appears we’re not missing much anyway:
Edward Douglas, The Weekend Warrior
Monster Hunter is definitely not the kind of movie I recommend to everyone – fans of the OTHER Paul Anderson would turn their noses up at the suggestion – but if you’re a fan of giant monsters and some of Anderson’s earlier work, you’ll probably already know whether or not this will be for you.
Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times
To be fair, all this movie promises from the start is monsters and hunters, and Anderson delivers both, from the first frame to the credits. But for way too long, the generic title is matched to generic action.
Barry Hertz, Globe and Mail
Listen: Monster Hunter is all sorts of super-dumb fun. And though its middle section lags – there are only so many training montages audiences can handle – Anderson and his wife Jovovich prove that their long-running Resident Evil franchise was no fluke: this is a couple who know how to take the flimsiest of video games and turn them into self-knowing slices of cinematic ridiculousness.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The AV Club
Anderson’s breakthrough, Mortal Kombat, is still the benchmark for infectiously fun video game adaptations. If Monster Hunter is intentionally a more spartan piece of work, its gamer aesthetics and bare minimums, even at their crudest, still feel like an antidote to the lethargic drag of movies with better VFX and cooler trailers.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
From that point on, “Monster Hunter” is relentlessly terrible even by 2020 standards, as it quickly descends into a dull and colorless bit of bug-hunting that marries the production value of a SyFy Original with the scale of a tutorial level, resulting in one of the drabbest and least imaginative video game movies ever made. Series fans will feel cheated by such a chintzy and incurious take on something they love, while the rest of us will be left wondering how the source material earned itself any fans in the first place.
Alif Majeed, Battle Royale With Cheese
Despite all the myriad problems plaguing the movie and none of which relates to pun-inducing dialogues, it entertains on an elementary level. That is because Monster Hunter delivers exactly what it promises. Even though that is very little in the end.
Mike McGranaghan, Aisle Seat
You won’t find any substance here, which is fine. Monster Hunter makes no pretensions of being anything other than what it is – a great big escapist creature feature, packed with wild wall-to-wall action. If that’s your thing, and it’s definitely mine, the movie offers a very good time.
Liam Nolan, CBR
Monster Hunter isn’t a good movie. The movie’s characters are flat, while its the exposition is clunky and any internal logic falls away the moment one stops to think about pretty much anything that happens. Monster Hunter is, thus, like pretty much every video game adaptation Anderson has done in the last decade, meaning it holds absolutely no surprises for any of his devotees. However, just because Monster Hunter isn’t a good movie doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining while it lasts.
Eric Frederiksen, GameSpot
The parts that work, work really well. The same way that 2014’s Godzilla excelled when Godzilla was on the screen, Monster Hunter is a blast when Artemis and the Hunter are fighting the authentically realized monsters. But the movie seems more interested in seeing giant monsters destroying helicopters and Humvees than in exploring its actual interesting setting.
Rollin Bishop, ComicBook
Monster Hunter ultimately flirts with being an absolutely fine movie while just managing to miss the mark. It’s not going to change hearts and minds, but seeing a military convoy try to take on Diablos and others is exactly as thrilling as it sounds. It just lacks the attention to detail that, say, Pacific Rim has to its world and characters. By the end of the film, I didn’t really understand why I was supposed to care about anyone still left alive beyond the fact that they remained on the screen. Monster Hunter is the energy drink of movies; a quick shock of energy followed mostly by a headache.
Christian Holub, EW
At a certain point, Monster Hunter just decides to end. As the surviving characters gear up for a final assault on the magic tower, the credits start rolling. A film that doesn’t even bother to wrap up its own story, instead gesturing vaguely at a hypothetical sequel, is telling you exactly how much you should care about it. At least some of those monsters are fun and gross.
So the movie is decidedly average with some fun to be had, but os overall pretty dumb and mediocre. This really shouldn’t surprise anyone considering how the film has portrayed itself so far through its trailers and Anderson’s previous filmmaking record.
That said, it also means that Anderson has arguably delivered exactly what was expected and so if you are looking for this sort of fun and uncomplicated distraction then it may be a film that appeals to you. And I guess you might as well embrace it because it’s unlikely to get a sequel.
Last Updated: December 17, 2020