When I saw the trailer for this film I thought it looked great.
Well, not great maybe; I never supposed this was going to be a truly groundbreaking example of the ‘people fighting giant monsters’ genre but I thought it looked fun. Then the reviews came out and they said it was terrible so I gave it a miss.
Still though, at the back of my mind, there was this persistent idea that this would be a knowingly preposterous movie with some exciting action sequences involving dragons and other other Tolkienesque beasts, that in all likelihood would be an undemanding but entertaining way to spend a couple of hours.
So I eventually gave it a go and sure enough it was exactly what I expected. To those critics who slammed it I ask first, what did you think it would be, and second, what did you think it should be? Monster Hunter is precisely what it promises and I enjoyed it. At least it doesn’t try to be something else like Godzilla vs Kong; it knows we want to see people either fighting monsters or getting ready to fight monsters and that’s what it gives us. We don’t care to hear any pseudo science or engage in corporate machinations, we just want roaring, swords, rocket launchers, teeth, spikes, running, jumping and things being smashed up.
I’m not sure if the film makers ever intended for me to take this movie seriously but having Ron Perlman in it at the start, looking a hell of a lot like Will Ferrell, the mood was set early on. This is the kind of movie that knows that the one thing more intimidating than being chased by a giant spider is being chased by a giant spider that is on fire, and it finds ways to deliver.
The first hour of the film is essentially a battle against one big monster and once they get past this beast I was nervous they’d try to pollute everything with some sort or story but thankfully they steer away from this and toward another, bigger monster. There are things that don’t make sense, like why on being transported to another world with no language common to our own Earth, soldier Milla Jovovich discovers that the horned creature she is trying to take down is called Diablo. (Maybe this is evidence that The Devil truly exists and does so across all dimensions.) Also why are there swords that suddenly burst into flames? As I say though, we don’t want the science, especially when we’ve got cool flaming swords.
I don’t want to big it up too much as mostly as it’s simple premise works without any sophistication but the film is genuinely quite tense in places and it has a moment that plays with the cat jumping out and making someone scream cliche in an interesting way. In the end though, it’s just huge monsters and that’s enough.
The Ripley Factor:
It’s Milla Jovovich. She’s not played anything but kick ass women since 1992’s Chaplin.