While a film is often judged by the way that it is received during the Awards season there are times when the best feeling in the world is to sit down a watch a film that is never going to even be mentioned during the illustrious awards period. Yes, it is great to sit down and watch a film that challenges you or makes you think, but at other times all you really want to do is sit down, turn your brain off and watch something dumb yet enjoyable. That is where films like Monster Hunter come into the picture.
Based on the popular video game franchise Monster Hunter sees director Paul WS Anderson (Alien vs Predator) once again re-united with his real-life wife Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element) after the duo made four Resident Evil movies together.
The storyline is basic. Jovovich plays Lt. Artemis a strong but caring solider who is well-respected by her colleagues who serve under her. While out a mission looking for a missing team Beta team they suddenly find themselves stuck inside a powerful storm that somehow pushes them through a gateway to another dimension where the likes of Admiral (Ron Perlman – Hellboy) are stuck in an everlasting race to survive as they hunted by other-worldly creatures.
As Artemis’ crew drop like flies (that isn’t a spoiler it pretty much happens in the first 20 minutes of the film) she suddenly finds her only help can come from weather-beaten warrior known to the audience only as The Hunter (Tony Jaa – Ong-Bak). The only problem is that while they rely on each for survival they also don’t trust each other.
Chances are if you have enjoyed what Anderson has done as a filmmaker with the Resident Evil franchise over the years then you will also enjoy Monster Hunter. The film is pretty much action sequence after action sequence yet somehow it also makes The Hunter and Artemis likeable characters. The fact that you can tell that Jovovich and Jaa obviously got on well off-screen makes for a chemistry on screen that just can’t be manufactured.
For me the film’s biggest weakness was that it didn’t allow us long enough in the world that it had set up. Outside of The Hunter and Artemis most of the characters are ‘missing’ for a huge chunk of the film which means the audience never really gets a chance to know other interesting characters like Admiral and his team.
The ending is insanely rushed to the point that you almost wish that Anderson had adapted this into a television series rather than a movie and as the final credits role you really do find yourself hoping that the movie becomes a franchise so you get a chance to share more adventures with these characters and take another trip into this world that leaves more questions about it than answers.
The key to this film working though is the amazing visuals created by Anderson and his team. When it comes to epic action sequences there are few in the cinema world that can do what Anderson does. Even when the Resident Evil franchise felt like it had thrown away any scrips or plot you could always guarantee that Anderson’s action sequences would be out of this world, and the same happens here. Add that to the fact that Anderson gives this film a feel like it is a war film with monsters just thrown in and it is not hard to see why this film is going to become a guilty pleasure for a lot of action film lovers out there.
If you are looking for a film that will keep you entertained without making you think these holidays then Monster Hunter is the film for you. Yes it has huge action sequences, lovable heroes and reveals a unique pairing of Jovovich and Jaa but do be prepared for a film where the ending is slightly rushed but will leave you wanted more. Monster Hunter is far from the perfect film but is certainly enjoyable for those of us who like action films.