Monster Hunter ⭐️⭐️½

Originally released in theaters Dec 25, 2020

Monster Hunter – PG-13 – 1 hr 43 min
NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Sunday February 7, 2021
AMC Lakewood 12 – Lakewood, Washington
2nd new movie seen in theater in 2021

A ship is under attack by a massive, angry sea creature during a violent storm. The beast tears through the boat and a man is thrown into the lightning and clutches sand.

Cut to the next scene and a female Army Ranger leads her group toward a lightning storm only to inexplicably be transported to a desert world. They forge ahead and see the prior unit, completely burned to blackened skeletons, spent shell casings, but no footprints or evidence in the sand of who or what took the trained military unit down.

Suddenly, another creature appears and drives the team into nearby caves where giant bug-sized monsters afraid of light await, ready to capture and kill (some of?) the team. It’s not long before the woman meets up with the man from the ship and they try to plot a plan of survival and monster killing to go back to the lightning storm in the distance and return home. In their path are huge monsters that will test their ultimate fighting skills.

The movie starts fast, frenetic and somewhat erratic and left me thinking of something Michael Bay might have directed. Fortunately, once the monster threats are uncovered, it lets off the throttle enough so we can figure out who the main characters are. Turns out, we saw them from the beginning and the central plotline forms. It’s a survivalist adventure story that starts out feeling like a little bit of Starship Troopers meets a Godzilla-like monster movie. It has a pulpy, yet warm feel and design running through it.

At first I wasn’t that thrilled with the story itself — it’s possible for a feature film to be too simplistic story — then I came to like the basic nature of it and warmed up a little. The creature design is good. That must be where most of the money went into this picture. The characters are so thinly drawn you’ll see right through them if you look too long. The dialogue, what little of it there is since one of the main characters barely speaks English, is about as empty as the characterization.

Music? Sort of a weird techno mashup that doesn’t really fit. The action is where everything lives and dies throughout this film. If you are all about action with almost zero exploration in characters, any sort of complex story arc or twisting narrative, you’ll find this film more welcoming. If, like me, you prefer to have flesh on the skeleton, this comes up embarrassingly short.

On a positive note, this movie succeeds well at one thing: it makes you want to play the videogame it was based on. I left the theater longing to slay monsters with primitive weapons. For a movie based on a videogame — a genre that is known for producing awful movies — making viewers want to play the spotlighted game is a good thing. Sony, makers of the Playstation, clearly know how to promote games. This aspect of the movie is solid and rewarding.

Had the movie offered a more definitive ending — and since this is spoiler free, going to be intentionally vague here — I’d have given this a little higher rating. If you want to talk about a blatant sequel play, well, we will save that discussion for later, but come on, be at least a little less obvious. Even so, a better ending wouldn’t have made this rating high enough to recommend because that requires some sort of compelling story that makes me feel something for the characters. When we aren’t able to get to know these characters beyond skin deep flesh wounds, that disappoints instead of entertains.

It’s the monster hunting equivalent of using your weapons on a creature and having little effect. Yeah, that actually happens in this movie — a lot. I mean, how many times can you shoot fire inside a creature and it doesn’t die? The audience can only take so much of that before we start thinking it’s all a little hopeless. I’ve heard the game is pretty difficult, too, but am intrigued to give it a try. That’s the most positive thing I can say about this film. In the crowded space of movies trying to capitalize on videogame IP, it’s somewhere between meh and O…K.

Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️½ (Todd)

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