Hello there - it's your friendly neighborhood nerd, back to talk about video game movies again. Although this time, instead of discussing some of my favorite flicks from the 90's, we're going to touch on a movie that hasn't released yet but has been teased and in development: Monster Hunter.
The above teaser is only 16 seconds long, but is enough to elicit an immediate "huh?" from anyone who is a fan of the game series. If you're not familiar with Monster Hunter, let me sum it up for you: a fantasy-themed action RPG series where players take on the role of a Hunter, slaying or trapping large monsters across various landscapes (many of which are breathtakingly beautiful, especially in more recent games). Using pieces from slain monsters, you craft better sets of weapons and armor so that you're ready to face more ferocious creatures down the line.
So, here's the obvious question: why are there people in military uniform with guns shooting at a giant Black Diablos?
Originally, when director Paul W.S. Anderson described the movie back in 2016, he offered the following synopsis: "For every Monster, there is a Hero. An ordinary man in a dead end job discovers that he is actually the descendant of an ancient hero. He must travel to a mystical world to train to become a Monster Hunter, before the mythical creatures from that world destroy ours."
Although the movie appears to have kept the idea of a modern-day hero stepping into a brand new world, it would appear it's evolved into something a little more than that and centers around some members of the American military. The synopsis beneath the YouTube trailer lays out what the premise of the movie has become:
"Behind our world, there is another: a world of dangerous and powerful monsters that rule their domain with deadly ferocity. When an unexpected sandstorm transports Captain Artemis (Milla Jovovich) and her unit (TI Harris, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta) to a new world, the soldiers are shocked to discover that this hostile and unknown environment is home to enormous and terrifying monsters immune to their firepower. In their desperate battle for survival, the unit encounters the mysterious Hunter (Tony Jaa), whose unique skills allow him to stay one step ahead of the powerful creatures. As Artemis and Hunter slowly build trust, she discovers that he is part of a team led by the Admiral (Ron Perlman). Facing a danger so great it could threaten to destroy their world, the brave warriors combine their unique abilities to band together for the ultimate showdown."
So...I mean, I guess the story roughly follows the plot of the games? In most of the games, there is indeed an Admiral or leader who enlists your help, and you ARE a hunter, and your world is usually threatened. But the similarities end there; the games don't have a modern or world-traversing element. For comparison, take a look at the Monster Hunter: World trailer below:
While I totally recognize that many adaptations of video games or book to cinema are not 100% faithful, this seems like a pretty wild spin off the mark. I would be completely behind a full-fantasy movie that presents a beautiful, rich, unique world with characters I can care about and be invested in. When I discussed world building in another blog, I mentioned James Cameron's Avatar. Avatar did sort of use the whole "outsider using technology to enter another world" trope that can be common in science fiction, but the context of the story and the idea behind what Pandora meant for humanity completely supported that direction. I really don't feel like that idea has a place in Monster Hunter.
Sorry, Mister Anderson - your Resident Evil movies might have been a huge success (commercially, if not among gamers themselves), but this one sounds like it's already geared up to be a stinker.
Monster Hunter on its own has a really cool concept and incredible worlds with stunning scenery. It doesn't need the outside elements of a modern-day person transported to another world. Why taint it? This is one video game turned movie that I'm going to give a giant "pass" on until I can get it on a streaming service.
Monster Hunter fans, what do you think about this? What's the biggest video game movie adaptation fail in your book? Tell me!