Monster Hunter In A Critic’s Review

[07-08-2023 09:07 PM]
Feras Al-Werr

(It is advisable for the readers to view the film before reading this analysis and critique article. The film is available on Netflix.)

A summary of the film :
Ever since the Resident Evil film series and I loved Milla Jovovich in action movies. Presenting her roles so beautifully in almost all her films she has the proper talented touch as an actress to convince any audience of her roles. Leading her fight against the walking dead and the secret societies behind the T virus, she and her husband’s well experienced directing were two of the reasons why this series turned into a dramatic success repeatedly upon every release. The franchise couldn’t have seen any better success, as I saw a sexy and well talented actress who knew her job behind that cine camera, charm us with her looks and professional spirit in her films.

Monster Hunter is yet another block buster that this couple presented to the audiences world wide. It was produced in 2020 as a film release to the capcom game holding the same name. Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, it starred along with Milla, Tony Jaa, Cliffored T. I. Harris, Meagan Good, Diego Bonita, Josh Helman, Jin Au Yeung and Ron Perlman. The production was a joint venture between Constantin Film, AB2 Digital Pictures, Tencent Pictures and Toho. The film was first released to cinema by Sony Pictures and aired on Dec. 3 2020 in the Netherlands, on Dec. 4 2020 in China, Dec.18 2020 in the US and on March 26 2021 in Japan. The film is of the science fiction adventure genre.

Released during the world wide Corona Pandemic, which was really a terrifying and stressful time even to manage a production in, this block buster brought mixed reviews from the critics, but an awesome 44.5 million US dollar revenue. Literally just imagining filming such a powerful film through a world shocked and tied down by restrictions due to Corona makes me really respect the filming crew and stars in it. It’s a true sigh of relief that the film ever got its way cross country to the cinemas and grossed such an income, which made it barely break even with its expenses. But what would anyone expect from a troubled and shocked world trying to make things back to the usual from the outrageous pandemic that rocked our entire globe. Nevertheless we will take a brief but close analytical look at how this movie awesomely competes in the cine world and what made it despite its revenue a smashing hit.

The movie revolves around a storm with a gateway connecting our human world to a new world. Through this gateway the heroes of our movie meet and connect with each other and experience the most awesome and bizarre situations ever. The opening scenes are of the new world where we see a wooden vessel miraculously navigating its way through the sandy dunes of a barren desert towards the tower and storm. A vicious and gigantic beast (soon referred to in the film as diablos) suddenly surfaces from the grounds and attacks the vessel, throwing a member of the crew off of it. The settings then switch to our world as we see an American army unit, which is part of a joint UN security venture, on duty driving through a barren desert as well. The officer in charge of it is Captain (soon referred to in the film as ranger) Natalie Artemis (Milla Jovovich). Upon receiving an SOS signal from another unit about intercepting a storm, they decide to investigate the SOS. However soon they discover a brief trail that the other unit left. Quickly they come to realize that something was terrifyingly wrong as it was heavily armored. Suddenly a powerful storm tears through the far horizons ahead of them clarifying instantly what the other unit had to deal with.

Despite their efforts to flee the storm engulfs them with its powerful winds and soon they find themselves in the very hostile new world. Mixed up and shocked about their current events, and not having a clue as to where they ended up, and realizing that half of their equipment got burned by the lightning storm, they decide to navigate through the barren deserts in hopes of finding their way back. Gradually they find the army unit that sent the signal burned to death with their vehicles sodomized by an anonymous force. Feeling uneasy about their discovery they cautiously decide to continue their search for a way back to where they came from. Suddenly a fierce encounter erupts with the gigantic sandy beast that attacked the wooden vessel in the prelude of the film. Being no match to its viciousness and size, their vehicles get torn apart, and the confrontation leads them to a hell hole of big fierce spiders. A brief but fierce clash with the oversized eight legged beasts kills them one after the other, leaving only captain Natalie barely alive.

Here the film takes a dramatic turn as Natalie’s quest to survive leads her to a ship’s graveyard. There damaged ships from the sand beast lay to rest with what’s left of their load. Upon exploring the site she encounters the crew member (referred to in the film as the hunter) whom was tossed off the ship in the prelude scenes earlier. Against all expectations a wild battle erupts between them that ends up with Natalie being his prisoner for a while. Tied up and helpless in his home, which is literally a natural caving in the natural rocks in the area, he tantalizes here in several ways. Despite her thirst and hunger he drinks water and eats in front of her, leaving her to fry within her desires for nourishment. Shortly the circumstances change and she manages to untie herself. Upon a short trip outside his home the fight continues till they toss themselves outside towards the spider’s den once again. Natalie saves the hunter as he is about to get eaten by the spiders. A feeling of gratitude engulfs him and he becomes friends with her.

I liked the Hershey’s bar truce. It just made me laugh as a bite of chocolate ended the bitter fighting between them. Despite speaking different languages they were able to communicate, making their relationship very distinguishing. Through gestures and sign language they devise a plan and agree to kill the sandy beast that obstructs their path towards the lighthouse and storm. A terrifying battle erupts between them and the beast ending his rule of the treacherous desert ahead. The hunter falls injured from the battle and Natalie decided to draw him with her through the dry arid environment. Eventually his health improves and both are able resume their trek towards their destination. A green oasis makes them rest for a while at the bank of a river. Their they see big beasts (referred to as absoros) drinking from the river’s clear water. Admiring its lush green trees and calming atmosphere, they decide to roast some meat from its wild inhabitants and dine to extinguish their wild thirst and hunger. However trouble pursues them once again. During their dinner a fierce attack from a flying beastly creature (referred to in the film as rathlos) turns the oasis into fiery hell. Captivated within seconds by the stampede of the frightened absoros, the hunter gets chased by one of the wild beast while Natalie is rescued by the captain of the wooden vessel which appeared in the prelude of the film. Both create fire using their weapons to distract the stampede away from them. The hunter is eventually lucky enough to get rescued by a crew member of the wooden vessel while Natalie winds up a prisoner of the captain. Returning to the wooden vessel afterwards the hunter explains how Natalie helped him kill the diablos and how they agreed together to take a trek towards the lightning tower of the storm. The captain feeling more safe towards Natalia asks her for help in killing the rathlos which guard the lighthouse and gateway towards her world. Striking a deal that if she helps them he would help her reach her world they agree to form a combat team to achieve their mission. He explains how humans coming from the gateway helped in destroying their civilization in the new world and how much they are in need of some peace away from human intervention in their internal affairs.

The team agree to begin their operations. A strong clash with the rathlos happens which ends up hurling Natalie to her world again. Wounded and exhausted from her trek in the new world she is picked up by military airlifts and army units. However the gateway sucks in the rathlos and the captain to our world. Rathlos tears up the air units that came to her rescue very easily. Natalie feels forced to get up and fight the beast as her team gets killed by his lethal fire. She and the hunter confront the beast and they end up killing it whereby giving us a happy ending. However the captain feels that their chores are not done before they shut down the tower and stop the beasts from coming into our world, whereby giving us also an open finale.

Some points on the directing of the film :
A blank desert background and awesome wide shots that show us the heroes in respect to the vast wilderness they are in are some of the techniques that this excellent director uses to involve us with the action of the film. These techniques also state through the camera shots how small the heroes are in respect to the arid desert and monsters they combat. Just seeing in a critic’s perspective what Paul Anderson was doing literally was jaw dropping. It made me feel how successful he was in filming the scenario. This film was no where possible to be shot in any other perspective as monster verses man was its main theme throughout its 100 minute long action packed scenes. Awesome wide shots of Natalie’s team being lost in the vast desert begin when they enter the new world, were we see them portrayed as helpless, lost and stressed. The hunter’s scenes that were shot in this perspective while Natalie’s crew was fighting the giant spiders also served this purpose. The wide shot scenes where Natalie was walking inside the endless cobweb network were fabulous and left a spine chilling effect as we see the real horrific situation she was in.

Literally the shots taken during the heroes fighting scenes with the diabolos saturated any action lover’s appetite for action. The size of the beasts dwarfed the heroes to a horrific extent making the viewer really ask if they will win the fight ever. Bringing the armored car in perspective to the size of the monster and the soldiers was used to its’ potential. I decided to put some stress on this point as a lot of action films present quick paced action scenes while the camera fails to bring this in to proper viewing perspective. As an example, Transformers to me was really awesome stuff when it was released worldwide in 2007. A really thrilling film that brought science fiction cartoons and comics to life on the broad screen, it presented multiple fight scenes between its characters. However viewing the clashes in the city between the transformer robots made me feel that something was wrong.

Although computer generated the fighting was swift and vicious, robots closely clinging to one another in a death clash. But some close up shots were very annoying to watch. The swiftness of the clashes to me could have been more clearer in broader shots perhaps. However here in Monster Hunter things were done differently and more efficiently as we see a director that has good control of his camera.
The final battle scenes with the rathlos beasts were really thrilling to watch as the film was rounding up its events. This exquisite science adventure film ended with a tired but triumphant monster hunter team. Again thumbs up for miraculous scenes that literally glued my eyes to the screen, as man-kind clashed with the flying beasts, trying to end their rule over the tower in the midst of the bizarre storm. A couple of noteworthy shots included the camera filming downwards the miniature human opponents, making the viewers see them in the beasts’ eyes. These shots tell us how weak and small the heroes were in comparison to the beasts they were fighting. Every shot meant something in this film as technique really makes its statement. The film finishes with an open ending as the team still has the task of ending the operation of the tower and closing the gateway it was powering to the new world.

The blank desert backgrounds that I referred to earlier serves another purpose as well. Usually these techniques are used when the director wants the audience to totally and solely focus on the characters and drama between them. Too much detail in the backgrounds and settings of the scenes may distract the viewer from some of the incidents and dialogue. Accordingly directing approaches and techniques may vary tremendously in the film business in terms of using plain or detail in the settings and backgrounds. Paul uses the desert persistently in a great portion of the film hoping to achieve this purpose. The desert in our world that Natalie’s army unit was in before confronting the storm, the desert of the new world which also served in presenting the doom the new world witnessed after technology destroyed it, and which also witnessed the vicious clashing. Furthermore the beastly spider cobweb den that was inside the grounds in the midst of the arid environment. A persistently detail-less background that came into beautiful contrast with the action in the scenes.

On the other hand we saw Paul in Mortal Combat, that was produced in 1995, use detail and set designing to a very fantastic level. The film that was loosely based on the fantasy action game holding the same name was a major box office hit in the nineties. As the heroes enter outworld and Shang Tsung’s dwelling place for the mortal combat tournament we see special designing that distinguish this place tremendously. The dim atmosphere, the fires that burn everywhere, the scores of candles that light rooms, the walls with their dark and gloomy cave like surfaces, the eerie steps and walkways connecting the different areas of the premises, even the dining rooms that the dramatic events take place, all have a touch of fantasy and detail that take us with them to a totally different world and environment. It as like hauling the viewers into the spirits of the film through a tremendously detailed setting. All this felt like a perfect match to outworld and its ghastly intention of ruling and suppressing the human realms. Again Paul outdid himself in that nineties block buster, and again showed us in Monster hunters to what extent he can build his world in feature films, and easily switch between directing techniques.

Critique on an open ending :
This is definitely a film that needs a part two. It just left the viewers with a number of unanswered questions. The captain when speaking with Natalie refers to the fact that the new world was destroyed by its technology however through our world’s intervention. But no references are made as to what happened? And how did the storm and lighthouse come to be? What events preceded the film’s events? While watching the film those questions just ran through my mind endlessly. Expecting them to be answered through the course of the film I was just surprised that the clashes with the beasts went on without any clarifications. The captain seemed angry with our world’s intervention signaling a catastrophe that took place at some point. The dinosaurs and beastly presences in the new world, the ominous figures that appear at the tower when the captain and hunters kill the rathloss, all remained unanswered.

To me this was an entertaining action packed science adventure feature film, with a lot of neat graphics, and fantastic adventure spirits. It was something worthy to watch and write analysis and critique on. I do hope to see a 2nd part to it soon.

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