Director Paul W.S. Anderson is an old hand at adapting video games, with his Mortal Kombat and the Resident Evil series being amongst the most profitable to date. So it comes as no surprise to find him at the helm of Monster Hunter, an epic new action extravaganza based on the popular Capcom game franchise.

Milla Jovovich stars as Captain Natalie Artemis, a US Ranger whose squadron is violently swept into an alternate universe dominated by giant sand-dwelling monsters. Seeking protection and alliance from a marooned monster hunter (Tony Jaa), she must learn a new form of defence in a desperate bid to defeat enough monsters to enable safe passage back to her own world.

During a recent conversation with STACK, Anderson revealed that his Monster Hunter is not far removed from the game, and that the game’s creators played an integral role in ensuring the movie adaptation remained faithful to the source material. Whether or not the film will satisfy loyal gamers remains to be seen, but there’s plenty on offer for the casual moviegoer.

Monster Hunter is a vast pastiche of past genre films, and perhaps therein lies much of its appeal. From Pitch Black to Tremors, Starship Troopers to Aliens and Enemy Mine to Godzilla, the movie is a smorgasbord of influences all rolled into one very snappy package. Set in a breathtaking cinematic universe unlike any seen before, the digital effects are far more effective than the movie’s modest $60-million budget would lead you to expect. When compared to contemporaries like Pacific Rim or Godzilla 2, which have whopping $200 million price tags, Monster Hunter delivers absolute bang for buck.

Jovovich takes the lead with assurance, building upon the working relationship she and Anderson (her real-life husband) enjoyed with the Resident Evil saga; her physical commitment to the action and fight sequences is impressive. Jaa’s primitive-like persona is also lots of fun, with his particular style of Muay Thai fighting a compelling component of the story. And look out for Ron Perlman in an amusing supporting turn.

As mentioned, the gaming community’s response is yet to be heard, however as so much of the movie is dedicated to combat sequences, it’s safe to say that most will be impressed by those aspects of the adaptation. However, non-gamers might struggle to contextualise some of the cheekier nuances, such as ill-mannered humanoid cats.

In cinemas: January 1, 2021
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Ron Perlman
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson