Monster Hunter Movie Review
Dumb but owning it, and frankly not that dumb, Monster Hunter is the big, explosive, action spectacle of the holiday season. It's not exactly the title I expected to win me over.
Expectations, of course, can be a fickle thing. I went into Wonder Woman 1984 as excited as can be, and it was a disaster. And the next day, I turned on this Paul W.S. Anderson video game adaptation expecting a disaster... and it was anything but.
Starring his wife Milla Jovovich, who was the lead in his semi-entertaining but increasingly ludicrous Resident Evil franchise, Monster Hunter is about a group of soldiers who accidentally pass through a desert portal and find themselves in a world inhabited by giant, deadly monsters. And Tony Jaa. Oh and Ron Perlman.
That’s it. That’s the plot.
And that’s totally fine. Monster Hunter is a lean, mean, straightforward sci-fi action blockbuster, a reprieve from the heaviness of 2020 and the convoluted dullness of the other aforementioned “action” movie releasing this Christmas. With terrific visual effects, bright colors, and some impressive monsters, Monster Hunter delivers on its promise to audiences and then some. The action is pretty good, with Anderson resisting much of the silliness many of his movies tend to succumb to. Yes, Jaa’s fighting skills are largely wasted in a movie like this, even obfuscated intentionally, but the action is fun to watch and easy to enjoy.
The movie does suffer from an ever-increasing escalation of threats. Anderson probably could have stopped one or two monsters earlier and the movie would have benefited from it; toward the end, it seemingly is on the verge of wrapping up only to reveal yet another, bigger monster. The nonstop approach wears you down after a while—the first half is more engaging, while the second half is all action.
As for Jovovich, she’s good as always. The role isn’t a challenge for her as she’s played this character type many times over in some way or form, but she’s one of those actresses who doesn’t get credit for commanding the screen the way she does (mainly since she’s spent a good part of her career starring in B-grade action films, I suppose).
Monster Hunter is a lot of fun. It could have so easily slipped into an over-the-top slopfest—and it comes close a couple times—but Anderson keeps things on track. Dumb but not offensively so, if you’re looking for mindless action this holiday season, look no further.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.