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  Monster Hunter Don't Mess With Milla
Year: 2020
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Stars: Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Ron Perlman, T.I., Diego Boneta, Meagan Good, Josh Helman, Au-Yueng Jin, Hirona Yamazaki, Jannik Schumann, Nanda Costa, Nic Rasenti, Clyde Berning, Paul Hampshire, Schelaine Bennett, Bart Fouche, Pope Jerrod, Aaron Beelner
Genre: Action, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: There are two worlds, the Old World where we live and the New World which has similarities, but in other ways is completely different. There are no giant monsters in the Old World, for example, but in the New a ship traversing the desert dunes will have to contend with huge, hungry creatures that set out to batter the vessel, attracted by its movement. Back in our world, it has become noticed there is a link between this and the other realm because soldiers investigating a location in the Afghan desert have been disappearing on their missions. Could it be they have fallen into this portal? US soldier Natalie Artemis (Milla Jovovich) needs to find out...

You pretty much know where you are with a Milla Jovovich action movie, and Monster Hunter was little exception. It was based on a computer game series, so already they were courting widespread complaints across the internet from fans of the source who would not have approached the film in the way director and writer (and Mr Jovovich) Paul W.S. Anderson did. But despite this couple obviously working very hard on these movies, not all based on games, the rewards they received seemed to be outweighed by the critical disdain and fans turning their noses up at them, no matter that they appeared to make a profit every time they released one.

Monster Hunter hit a snag, however, when it was passed by the Chinese board of censors, who let a joke about Chinese knees (really) go by and wound up with the movie withdrawn and boycotted across one of its biggest markets - this was a Chinese co-production, it should be pointed out, so it's surprising nobody thought there would be an issue, however mild the joke was in theory. It really depended on how it would do on home video whether we saw any more in this franchise, but as the rest of the globe struggled with the pandemic, you would have to chalk this particular effort up as another casualty of the depressed cinema scene of the early twenty-twenties.

But what of the entertainment value of the project itself? It was important to point out it was a Japanese co-production as well, and the studio responsible was Godzilla's patron Toho, hence there were a number of giant monsters for Milla and co-star Tony Jaa (speaking barely any English) to combat. However, they were not men in suits, they were CGI creations, and also they did not fight each other as was traditional, as the battles were conducted with the leviathans and the comparatively puny humans seeking to take them down, which may not be what Japanese kaiju fans would want. Look at how well Godzilla vs. Kong did in the pandemic box office to see what a movie that played by the rules could do with audience satisfaction and interest.

In fact, considering Anderson was a British child of the nineteen-seventies, what this looked like was one of those try hard fantasies for family audiences that escaped from the British film industry that decade: think The Land That Time Forgot or At the Earth's Core for an idea of the spirit Monster Hunter was attempting to invoke. Though here the industry demands were that some of the combat was fairly gruesome to snare a PG-13 or 12 equivalent certificate, if not anything higher, to make the kids who went with their parents believe they were getting their money's worth, nevertheless the tone was pitched young, possibly because all blockbusting science fiction and fantasy had to be aiming for the largest audience possible. The monsters themselves were more or less on game design level, the martial arts were arbitrarily thrown in, there was a cat person chef and it sought to push a lot of commercial buttons, therefore perhaps this was a case of not being a famous enough franchise among non-gamers to make a sufficient impression. No matter how hard they worked on these things, there was no cure for that this century. Music by Paul Haslinger.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Paul W.S. Anderson  (1965 - )

British director who specialises in noisy, flashy sci-fi action. Made his debut in 1994 with the ram-raiding thriller Shopping, and scored his biggest critical success in 1997 with the scary space shocker Event Horizon. Anderson's Kurt Russell vehicle Soldier was a costly flop, but his computer game adaptations Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil proved more entertaining than they probably should have done. His Alien Vs. Predator was a hit, but was controversial amongst fans of the two franchises. Remake Death Race, a liberal version of The Three Musketeers and more Resident Evil sequels followed before he had a go at 3D peplum with Pompeii. Monster Hunter was a return to the gamer milieu with wife Milla Jovovich, but underperformed. Not to be confused with Magnolia director Paul Thomas Anderson.

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