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"Monster Hunter" 4K Review

 I've been calling for an end to Christopher Nolan's career for some time now. It doesn't matter that up through Inception everything he made was very good to excellent (scores in the 7-9/10 range); in the ensuing decade he has made four stinkers - The Dark Knight Reloaded (4/10), Intersuckular (2/10), Dumbkirk (4/10), and simply abysmal Tenet (1/10) - and you can only grade on a curve because The Dark Knight rocked for so long. He's become too insulated from reality and, no, that Dumbkirk was Oscar nominated and the movies make money doesn't change the objective fact that they're bad movies and Nolan has lost the plot.

But at least for the first half of his career he made a string of quality movies. (He's like Rob Reiner, who racked up a string of top-flight films, then made North - which Roger Ebert infamously said in his review, "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it." - then never made another good movie again.) Maybe he'll come back like M. Night Shyamalan did for a moment before disappearing up his ass again. I'm not confident. 

But what explains the continuing career of Paul W.S. Anderson (not to be confused with the overrated Paul Thomas Anderson of Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood)? He's directed 13 films and with a few scattered exceptions - the flawed-but-very good Event Horizon; perhaps the first Resident Evil; the 2008 Death Race was kinda fun; I know there's affection for his 1995 Mortal Kombat take - he has made some gawdawful trash, pretty much wrecking the career of his wife and frequent star Milla Jovovich. (In comparison, Hollywood only allowed Renny Harlin and Geena Davis to pair up twice, but The Long Kiss Goodnight was good. Come on, Milla, you used to be married to Luc Besson. Can't you tell the difference?)

 Despite cratering the Resident Evil franchise with the increasingly bad final three entries, Anderson is back wrecking another Capcom video game franchise with his adaptation of Monster Hunter, which is about...wait for it....hunting monsters. Yeah. It's deep.

Jovovich stars as Capt. Artemis - which anyone who saw Ready Player One recognizes as the Goddess of the Hunt which immediately alerts us as to how profound this movie is going to be (i.e. not profound) - who is in an unnamed desert with her squad of red shirts searching for a missing squad whose tracks simply end. When a big CGI storm swoops in like a discount version of Mad Max: Fury Road, they attempt to flee but when passing some stones with ancient markings on them, lightning strikes and they are transported to another desert of white dunes. They rapidly realize they're not in desert Kansas anymore when a big monster which can swim through the sand attacks their vehicles.

The survivors manage to make it to a rocky area with caves preventing it from following them, but are immediately beset upon by giant crab-spider looking things who manage to kill everyone in the squad except Artemis because they weren't married to the director. Womp womp! Soon she meets the Hunter (Tony Jaa), whom she initially fights because they can't communicate, but eventually forges an alliance with because he appears to know how to fight these monsters and she's only alive because it's been a day and she's married to the director. 

After the obligatory training montage to teach her how to use this world's weapons, they tag-team the monster - called a Diablos because even trying for a slightly original name would've been too much work (if it's from the game, hold your comments; don't care) - and then set off for a dark tower on the horizon (similar to the dark tower from the Dark Tower movie) which may have the means to return her home. Along the way they encounter an oasis with the sailing ship (reminiscent of Soul, but not a ripoff) we saw the Hunter fall off of in the prologue, captained by Ron Perlman, sporting a wig that makes him look like a grown-up Feral Kid from The Road Warrior, and speaking English because he decided to study the people being sucked through the portal stones, because that's how you learn English when there's no TV, I suppose.

 The rushed third act consists of Artemis and her new pals fighting to get her into one of the unstable portals to transport her back. Do any monsters follow her through and attack the military which comes to rescue her instantly? (Duh, it's in the trailer.) Luckily, Jaa and Perlman show up in time to help her and protect our world because SEQUEL, amirite? Pffft. 

I didn't go into Monster Hunter with any expectations of quality. The last chapter of the RE series, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, was terrible even by the sinking standards of its predecessors, with spastic choppy editing that turned action scenes into incoherent noise. Anderson deploys the same meth addict aesthetic here as well, even during quiet scenes. At one point they encounter a mass of wrecked ships in the desert which was clearly practically built as a real set, but rather than allowing the viewer to appreciate the effort during a break in the action, it's cut-cut-cut-cut-cut-cut like Michael Bay at triple-speed.

 There's little else to discuss here. There are no characters - Artemis is a tough chick who has a wedding ring engraved "Forever" in a tin box in her pocket that we never learn about; the Hunter prays to a pair of small totems representing a dead wife and child; Perlman is Perlman - the action is adequate, the visual effects are mostly sufficient. There are monsters that are hunting and hunted....Monster Hunter.

The 4K presentation is bland. There aren't many colors that benefit and the dynamic range is OK, but nothing you'd demo your home theater with, much less watch a second time.

Score: 2/10. Skip it.


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