Director Paul WS Anderson and star Milla Jovovich made four movies together based on video game developer Capcom’s “Resident Evil” action-adventure series. Their new project, “Monster Hunter,” now playing in theatres, returns to the same well, this time bringing Capcom’s second best-selling series, after “Resident Evil,” to big, noisy life on movie screens.
The plot is straightforward. Jovovich is Captain Natalie Artemis, a last name she happens to share with the Greek goddess of the hunt. When she and her team slip through a portal into a world teaming with monsters, she partners with The Hunter (Tony Jaa), a warrior who specializes in battling giant monsters. If she wants to survive and make it back to her world, he is her best hope. “To kill a monster,” she says, “you need a monster.”
Anderson’s previous movies are like heavy metal concerts, loud and proud, with the finesse of a sledge hammer and “Monster Hunter” is no different. It’s a simple story told with sweeping shots of the alien landscape, a turn-it-up-eleven sound mix and more CGI creatures than you can shake a gaming controller at. Don’t come here for story arcs or character development, those qualities are as absent as subtlety.
The action sequences are shot motion-sickness style, with the camera in constant movement, making it hard to see who is beating the stuffing out of who. It’s a shame because Jaa is one of the most agile and entertaining action stars this side of Jackie Chan in his prime, but much of the time here he is a blur of fists and fury.
“Monster Hunter’s” plot is so thin, if you held it up to the light, you could see right through it. But this isn’t “War and Peace.” Heck, it’s barely “See Spot Run” story wise. Instead, it’s more an excuse to slap together some jump scares and, admittedly cool looking creatures, with elements borrowed from other movies like “Predator” and “Alien.”
2020 has been slim pickings for big off-the-wall action movies. “Monster Hunter” doesn’t offer much, but for anyone starved for no-nonsense—or should that be all nonsense? —pedal to the metal action, it just might do the trick.