Paul WS Anderson reveals an undeniable fixation with video games, and the reason for it is palpable. After the resounding rise of the “Resident Evil” series (2002-2016), the director now ventures into the gripping plot of a warrior and her loyal subordinates, fighting to survive after a sandstorm that transports them to a parallel, magical universe. notably hostile in “Monster Hunter.” In this new film, Anderson incorporates the formula that established him in the previous franchise.
Considered by many as a mentor to nerds, especially those who dedicate their valuable time to assuming new identities in video games, Anderson uses this niche to replicate the success achieved in films that explore seemingly inexplicable crimes in Raccoon City. This is both his trump card and his downfall. While her film certainly engages and captivates those already initiated, for those who are not familiar with the saga of Lieutenant Nathalie Artemis, facing enemies as extraordinary as they are brutal, the experience can be compared to a sea creature lost in a scorching desert.
The soundtrack, masterfully composed by Paul Haslinger, echoes in an immersive way, similar to the music that permeates cyber environments, as an imposing ark advances across a vast expanse of arid land. Inside this ark, Lieutenant Artemis faces uncertainty regarding the outcome of her mission and the possibility of safely leading her men to their original destination. Milla Jovovich, Anderson’s muse and wife, delivers a satisfactory performance in her new role, however, her presence does not evoke the same empathy that Alice, the heroine of “Resident Evil”, used to evoke. In “Monster Hunter,” Jovovich incorporates nearly all of her previous character’s mannerisms, occasionally toning them down as the director introduces the cast to the nuances of the narrative. Ranger never fails to express her discomfort in the face of changes, compulsory separations and the veil of the unknown that hangs over everything.
Lieutenant Artemis’ deepest loneliness is challenged with the arrival of the monster hunter, played by Tony Jaa. He personifies the shadow between the apparent goodness of a mysterious place and the raw violence that has reigned on this Earth since time immemorial. Unfortunately, Anderson prefers to emphasize the physical composition of his work in the script, which acquires dramatic substance in the clash between the protagonists of Jovovich and Jaa, and an extraordinary dragon designed by the computer graphics team led by Erica Van Den Raad. The dilemma is that the director spends almost two thirds of the film searching for the appropriate tone for the metaphors, stringing them together without a clear method, especially in the opening. Only when the gong sounds does everything dissipate, leaving the persistent feeling that our monsters are invincible in their truculence, finding us, wherever we hide.
Film: Monster Hunter
Direction: Paul W.S. Anderson