A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Monster Hunter is a violent video game-based action/fantasy adventure in which a group of soldiers ends up crossing into another dimension, where giant carnivorous monsters kill the few humans around. The captain of the Ranger unit, played by Milla Jovovich, teams up with a mysterious Hunter (Tony Jaa) to fight the massive. frightening creatures. As in the video games, there's there's violence in nearly every scene, some of it jump-worthy, as the humans try to kill every monster that crosses their paths. Humans and monsters are destroyed by a variety of weapons: guns, grenades, heavy artillery, crossbows, spears, swords, and more. Many characters die: People are crushed, dismembered, burned to death, and eaten. Strong language is infrequent but includes "s--t," "goddammit," and religious exclamations. The movie is likely to appeal most to fans of the game franchise (who will understand the world-building) or fantasy-adventure enthusiasts.
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I have six kids ages 2-12. I brought my 12 year old son. I loved Milla Jovovich in Fifth Elemen... Continue reading
What's the story?
Monster Hunter is an action movie based on the Monster Hunter: World video game. Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, the undisputed king of video game adaptations, the film stars Milla Jovovich as Capt. Artemis. She leads an Army Ranger squad that drives through a desert storm that's actually a portal to another world, where -- one by one -- they're picked off by huge dinosaur, spider, dragon, and sea creature-like monsters that are intent on killing all of them. Emerging as the sole survivor of her team, Artemis teams up with a mysterious Hunter (Tony Jaa) who knows about the various creatures and how to best kill them. Together, the Hunter -- who speaks an unknown language -- and Artemis find a way to communicate and train to kill more of the beasts and hopefully find a way to get her back to Earth.
Is it any good?
As video game-based movies go, this isn't the worst, because spouses Anderson and Jovovich know what they're doing -- but it's still a forgettable compilation of violent CGI effects. At this point, Anderson owes his career to turning video games into movies, and his Resident Evil star-turned-wife is his fierce, fabulous muse. Despite dismal reviews, the Resident Evil franchise has a sizable following, so it's possible that Monster Hunter will strike the same chord. But for audiences who are unfamiliar or uninterested in the game, the movie has little to offer beyond a seemingly unending sequence of violent battles between humans and beasts. But the tension is underwhelming, as is any investment in the characters (even Artemis and the Hunter remain unknowable).
There are a few moments of levity, such as when Artemis gives the Hunter her stash of chocolate and he demands more, or in the inevitable training montage when she learns to use his armor and weapons, but they fall short of humanizing the characters. This is definitely not a buddy adventure, nor is it a character study of warriors strategizing and overcoming rough odds. It's just a show of humanity-versus-beast violence -- and not a creative show at that. Then again, these movies never pretend to be something they're not, and there's clearly an audience for them. Don't expect substantive world building, back stories, or plot explanations, just artillery-spraying, human-crunching action.
Talk to your kids about ...
The movie has been boycotted in China because of a joke about "Chi-knees" included in previews that was later deleted. What responsibility do screenwriters and filmmakers have to be thoughtful about the use of racist or insensitive language in their films?
What do you think about the genre of video game-to-movie adaptations? Which one is your favorite? How does this one compare to the others?
- In theaters: December 18, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: March 2, 2021
- Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ron Perlman, Tony Jaa
- Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
- Studio: Screen Gems
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of creature action and violence throughout
- Last updated: March 2, 2021
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