Thursday, 30 September 2021

Monster Hunter (2020)

It's almost as if the way in which some people are easily pleased, and the way in which some people will tolerate any crap that is accessible enough, has created a monster in modern movie-making. And that monster is Paul W. S. Anderson. I'm exaggerating, of course, but not by much. Because Anderson has tended to make films that have allowed him to keep making films, and that has allowed him to assume that he's been doing something right. Which ensures that he has never attempted to correct any of his bad habits, with the two worst being his over-reliance on CGI and his inability to hold a shot for more than five seconds. I can overlook these things easier when I can still find enough to enjoy in his films, as is the case with the Resident Evil movies. It's a lot tougher in a movie like this.

Thankfully, or perhaps not (depending on your view), he keeps casting his wife, Milla Jovovich, in his movies, and that guarantees I will watch them. I like Jovovich. She's not the best actress ever, but she often does very well at being a strong and sexy heroine. Here she plays Artemis, a strong and sexy heroine. So the movie has that going for it.

Artemis is with a group of fellow soldiers when the group is transported to another world, one in which giant monsters can pop up out of the earth and pick off humans like scampering ants. There's also a character named Hunter (Tony Jaa) in this world, and it's not long until Artemis and Hunter start to work together in order to survive against the dangerous creatures around them.

That's really all there is to Monster Hunter, a film so light on plot that I am amazed it has a runtime of just over an hour and forty minutes. Although I am unfamiliar with the videogame source material, and others can judge for themselves if this is a good adaptation or not, Monster Hunter seems to have nothing else really going for it, cinematically. As usual, Anderson wants to provide some slo-mo action overstuffed with CGI (to be fair, the actual creature design here is very good) and wants to allow Jovovich to kick ass. He does that. He just does nothing else, and that includes creating a world that feels as if it expands beyond the perimeters of any screen edges.

Jovovich is sadly disappointing in the lead role, less convincing than usual and hindered by a weak script. Jaa fares slightly better, developing nicely as he and Jovovich learn from one another. There are some other people onscreen, but the only one of note is Ron Perlman, who is wasted in his small role.

A real waste of time, for both viewers and the people involved, this is infuriatingly horrible for almost every minute. Characters are thinner than rice paper, the plotting is lazy and careless (one of those scripts that you can easily imagine was written by an impatient child), and it fails to do what Anderson has sometimes managed with his other movies, which is to provide mindless and enjoyable entertainment that is best accompanied by popcorn and fizzy drinks. 


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