I should have reviewed this movie three weeks ago, when it was #1 in the country. But my weekend work schedule was just too tight, and I had to settle for reviewing On Demand release “Greenland” instead. I wrote at the time that “Greenland” should have been released in theaters, and now I can say that it should have gotten the theatrical release that wrongfully went to “Monster Hunter.” This film did well enough to justify a review from a commercial standpoint, but it does not come close to deserving my time and energy from a creative standpoint. I should consider it a blessing that I got to review the superior “Greenland” instead, even if I did have to see it on the small screen. This movie isn’t good enough for the big screen. Or my TV. Or my laptop. At best, it belongs on a phone. But not a nice smartphone, more like a low-end flip-phone from back when phones were just starting to have screens.
After a prologue where an otherworldly character known as The Hunter (Tony Jaa) is separated from his group, led by The Admiral (Ron Perlman), the film is neatly divided into three acts. In the first act, a group of soldiers led by Artemis (Milla Jovovich) are sucked into another dimension and try to combat the monsters. I don’t know why the film went to the trouble of getting “name” actors like Meagan Good, Tip “T.I.” Harris, and Diego Boneta for these scenes. Let’s just say the monster fills up on appetizers.
In the second act, Artemis forms a shaky alliance with The Hunter and they team up to fight the monsters together. They bond over chocolate, which normally I’d say is dumb and maybe borderline insensitive to have someone of another culture won over so easily by a treat, but since this particular brand of chocolate happens to be my full-time employer, I’ll go ahead and say that this is further proof that we are the Great Unifier across all planes of existence. Speaking of culturally insensitive, this movie got in trouble in China for a joke where the punchline was “Chi-Knees.” It doesn’t surprise me that this movie would make a joke that dumb, but I am surprised that the idiotic screenplay was able to string that many words together from setup to punchline.
In the third act, Artemis and The Hunter meet up with The Admiral and his crew, and together they use some real firepower to take on the deadliest monster of them all. This monster breathes fire and has no weaknesses… except for a few seconds of vulnerability right before it breathes the fire, which is in fact a glaring weakness. It is in this portion of the film that we are introduced to a supporting character that completely steals the movie. This character is the cook on The Admiral’s ship, and I won’t say who – or what – plays them. Just know that when I give this movie a D rating, I’m referring to the scenes that don’t feature this character. The scenes with this character get an A.
“Monster Hunter” is practically nonstop shooting, swordplay, and other assorted fighting. This sounds like a promise of a good action movie, but I assure you it’s a promise of boredom. It’s quickly apparent that bullets don’t hurt these poorly-rendered monsters, so all the shooting is just noise for the sake of noise, and the same can be said for other methods of nicking the huge beasts. The characters and dialogue are not compelling. In fact, it seems like the film’s writers thought it was a chore to write characters and dialogue at all. This movie unsurprisingly is based on a video game, and the movie industry’s longstanding streak of never once coming up with a decent video game adaptation remains intact.
“Monster Hunter” is playing in select theaters. Please wear masks and follow all safety protocols if seeing the film in a theater. The film is rated PG-13 for sequences of creature action and violence throughout. Its running time is 99 minutes.
Robert R. Garver is a graduate of the Cinema Studies program at New York University. His weekly movie reviews have been published since 2006.
Last Update: Jan 18, 2021 7:17 am CST