I played a Monster Hunter game… maybe once. Possibly twice. I wouldn’t bet three times. However, I do have friends who love Monster Hunter, have mastered several of the games in the franchise, and love keeping up with Monster Hunter World. No, I’ve simply had the occasional displeasure of watching a video game movie. And, now that we’re at a time where it’s clear that video games are the titular medium for profitability, we’re going to see a lot more video game movies.
With this in mind, it doesn’t surprise me that Monster Hunter, of all franchises, is getting the latest adaption treatment. Even if domestic interest is minimal, giant monster movies are loved internationally (see Godzilla: King of the Monster or either Pacific Rim film on Box Office Mojo). So, taking a property where, at its core, its all about warriors fighting off massive lizard-like creatures? Yeah, it’ll do fine overseas.
But, as for the trailer…
I mean, I guess it’s fine. Honestly, the official Monster Hunter trailer reminded how even if someone edits in massive letters like “THE BIGGER THEY ARE” for a few frames, I’ll completely forget what I read when it cuts to Milla Jovovich aiming a rocket-launcher at a massive CGI creature so another CGI rendered object can shoot out of a CGI manipulated weapon to hit that CGI dragon-beast-thing. Then I’ll read “THE HARDER TO KILL” and be like, “No, my braincells died pretty quick, thank you.”
And maybe that’s fine. I mean, sometimes, people just wanna watch big action sequences… but if that were the case, especially here in the states, both Godzilla: King of the Monsters and either Pacific Rim film would have nailed it out of the park domestically. But they didn’t. And that’s why Monster Hunter is budgeted at $60 million, which is roughly $100 million less than any of the other movies I’ve mentioned. Sony knows nobody really cares that much about these kind of movies. Or, maybe they know people who see these movies don’t really care about much else other than absurd levels of giant-scale violence. It doesn’t need to look pretty, it needs to be overwhelming. If your senses are assaulted, you don’t have time to see how bad it looks.
I guess I’m indifferent. 2020 has me indifferent, I’m sorry. I should be more excited. A video game adaption, if it actually sticks to its current ‘release date’ of December 2020, has the opportunity to kill it at the box office and further salt Nolan’s wounds from Tenet. There’s a bit of schadenfreude to that.
But, from what little I’ve experienced with Monster Hunter, and how much my friends enjoy it, I have to suspect the Monster Hunter movie is going to be pretty vapid. Everyone I know who plays the game plays it for gameplay, and that’s what makes video game adaptions so hard: translating gameplay. What I’ve understood to be fun about Monster Hunter is the teamwork, comradery, and loot-based mechanics of the game. It’s what makes fighting the same monster over and over again so exciting, invigorating, and addictive.
How can a movie recreate that? Especially in 2020, a year where the theater industry had Tenet, a movie that pines for rewatches yet still couldn’t break $50 million domestic a month and a half since release… I repeat: How can Monster Hunter, in 2020, plan to garner rewatches that offer an equal sense of enjoyment as its video game source material?
And if not this year, then next year?
I don’t think it can. Maybe it can. But, I don’t think it can. Paul W.S. Anderson is infamous for his work with the Resident Evil film-adaptions. Gamers weren’t impressed, and outright derided those films even if they made bank overseas. And if gamers don’t know Anderson, they at least know Milla Jovovich from those films, and that alone doesn’t bode well.
Personally, I don’t enjoy staking an upcoming film’s faults and failures on who’s cast or directing, because sometimes there’s a surprise waiting around the corner. But, 2020 has taught me better, so I’ll have to wait and see.
Description: A portal transports Lt. Artemis and an elite unit of soldiers to a strange world where powerful monsters rule with deadly ferocity. Faced with relentless danger, the team encounters a mysterious hunter who may be their only hope to find a way home.
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, T.I., Ron Perlman, Diego Boneta, Tony Jaa, Meagan Good, Josh Helman, and Jin Au-Yeung
Release Date: December 2020
Consider supporting Cinematic Doctrine on Patreon! As a bonus, you’ll gain access to a once-a-month movie poll where you decide a movie we discuss on the podcast! You also gain access to the The Pre-Show, a Patreon exclusive podcast series where we casually talk movies, Christianity, and life itself.
Melvin Benson is the Founder, Executive Editor, and Lead Host of Cinematic Doctrine. He’s written fiction and nonfiction for over a decade with short stories featured on the Creepypasta Wiki and Wattpad. His novelette Ethereal Temptation, a teen drama with a tinge of magical-realism, can be read for free here. His hope is to see King Jesus glorified as far as the east is from the west!