So after months of waiting, and plenty of angry fans, Capcom and Sony Pictures have announced the final release date for the film adaptation of Monster Hunter. The film was originally announced in May 2018 and was to be helmed by the same Paul W.S. Anderson who directed many of the Resident Evil live-action films. The adaptation features some pretty big names in film, with Milla Jovovich, Ron Perlman, Meagan Good, Tony Jaa and more lending talent to the production.
As we’ve talked about previously, The Resident Evil are the most successful video game adaptations to film to date, grossing a combined more than $1.2 billion at the box office, despite being panned by many critics and hardcore RE fans. And it seems like this treatment for Monster Hunter could be on the same trajectory, assuming everything goes O.K. with the production.
The plot of the movie involves Lt. Artemis (Milla Jovovich) leading a team of UN soldiers and specialists through a portal to an alien world. That portal leads to the lands of the Monster Hunter games, and sees these new arrivals having to hunt a variety of iconic monsters. The likes of Rathian, Rathalos, Diablos and more could all appear in the film. And while a full list of monsters featured in the film hasn’t been confirmed, that hasn’t stopped fan speculation and hype.
Here’s the logline:
Behind our world, there is another — a world of dangerous and powerful monsters that rule their domain with deadly ferocity. When Lt. Artemis (Jovovich) and her loyal soldiers are transported from our world to the new world, the unflappable lieutenant receives the shock of her life. In her desperate battle for survival against enormous enemies with incredible powers and unstoppable, terrifying attacks, Artemis will team up with a mysterious man (Tony Jaa) who has found a way to fight back.
And even though many hardcore fans of MH, at least in the West, are angry about the mixing of real world and game elements, it’s important to keep in mind the target audiences here. Sony and Capcom both know that Asian markets are far more fertile for Monster Hunter properties than the West. Over the last 14 years, the franchise has sold more than 20 million units worldwide, with nearly half of those being for Monster Hunter World. Breaking the numbers down by region reveals that Japan accounted for nearly half of those sales with MHW, a staggering high share. When combining this popularity with the worldwide gross for the Resident Evil live-action films eclipsing the North American release by far, we see perfectly clear that Sony and Capcom are making this film primarily for a global audience.
However, if we use the context of the Resident Evil films as a framework, some problems immerge. Paul W.S. Anderson directly lifted characters, plot elements and even fight scenes shot-for-shot from the source material, and the impact is largely lost in translation because none of the narrative weight is carried over. Take Resident Evil Apocalypse, the second film based on the third mainline game, Resident Evil Nemesis. Instead of Jill Valentine being a strong lead character, Anderson made Alice, the original character played by his wife, into the worst example of a Mary Sue in any film franchise. Jill, who would be the star in a faithful recreation, might as well not even exist in the film we got. And this effect of Anderson wanting his wife to upstage literally everyone else permeated other films as well. Resident Evil Afterlife, the film based on Resident Evil 5 had an utterly pointless and boring fight scene as its finale because Paul W.S. Anderson can’t seem to let the actual source material dictate his writing or directing beyond the most superficial elements.
Now let’s be realistic. The $60 million budget for the Monster Hunter film isn’t going towards an effort that will put fans first. Fans don’t fill seats, the general movie-going public does. I’m willing to bet that the final product from this production will follow much the same trend as Paul W.S. Anderson’s other video game films. A largely anemic exercise in action and storytelling that’s dressed up with slow-motion cinematography, digital effects, and complex fight scenes in order to appeal to the masses. But in terms of actual connective tissue with the source material, there will be only the barest of threads.
The timing of the release could be better, maybe even coinciding with the Autumn 2019 release of the Iceborne expansion for Monster Hunter World. But we all know quite well what happens when a studio tries to rush a video game adaptation to market, we end up with trash like Street Fighter The Movie. And while I don’t expect this film to be that bad, it probably won’t be good either.
If you need more Monster Hunter action to tide you over, why not hop back into MHW and take part in the new Appreciation Festival that’s ongoing until February 21st.
Until then, we’re going to have to wait until September 4, 2020 to get ahold of this particular film.