Monster Hunter review

For F*** Magazine

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast : Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Ron Perlman, Cliff “T.I.” Harris Jr, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta, Josh Helman, Jin Au-Yeung, Hirona Yamazaki
Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy
Run Time : 104 min
Opens : 24 December 2020
Rating : PG13

Paul W.S. Anderson, best known for the Resident Evil films, tackles another videogame adaptation, bringing Capcom’s Monster Hunter to the big screen.

Captain Natalie Artemis (Milla Jovovich), whose squadron includes Link (T.I.), Dash (Meagan Good), Marshall (Diego Boneta), Steeler (Josh Helman) and Axe (Jin Au-Yeung), is a U.S. Army Ranger. A freak electrical storm suddenly whisks Artemis and her team into a mysterious realm dominated by other-worldly monsters. Artemis meets the Hunter (Tony Jaa), who has spent his life fighting the monsters, including the Black Diablos and the Nerscylla. Despite initially being antagonistic to each other, Artemis and Hunter must overcome their differences to help each other survive, and so that Artemis can find a way home.

Monster Hunter is not as bad as many of the Resident Evil films and is often entertaining. One would be hard-pressed to call it “good”, but there are a few enjoyable sequences, and some of the monsters are rendered well.

Milla Jovovich may have limited range as an actor, but she is very good at playing tough characters, and the Artemis character caters to all her strengths. The best parts of the film are not the monster fight sequences, though there are plenty of those – the best parts of the movie are the scenes that Jovovich and Jaa share.

Jaa is immensely charismatic, a winsome movie star through and through. There is not much in the way of characterisation for Hunter, let alone any of the other characters who aren’t him or Artemis, but Jaa makes the most of what he’s given. The movie also isn’t as bloated as it could’ve been, given the amount of lore in the game series.

This is a movie that evaporates almost as soon as it’s over. There’s just not a lot here, and it is frustrating because there are interesting textural elements, and there are things about the movie one wishes Anderson had focused on more. Perhaps this is due in part to the appearance of his oft-collaborator Ron Perlman, but this reviewer spent most of Monster Hunter imagining what a filmmaker like Guillermo del Toro could have done with this material. The games are action role-playing games and are not primarily story-driven, which means there was room to create a story here, and it’s just threadbare.

The entire aspect of a human military unit entering the world of Monster Hunter is not taken from the games. Anderson was inspired by a one-off crossover event in the 2010 game Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, in which a military squad briefly fought monsters from the Monster Hunter series. This means that, just like in the Resident Evil films, Milla Jovovich is playing a character who was created from whole cloth for the movies and is not present in the games on which they are based. As such, Artemis feels like an avatar, it feels like there’s basically nothing to her, and that Hunter is a much more interesting character by comparison. Anderson also probably thinks it’s quite clever that the character is named after the Ancient Greek goddess of the hunt. Elements from Mad Max: Fury Road, the live-action Transformers movies and Stargate feel grafted onto the movie.

The supporting characters are mostly non-entities. This renders the controversy surrounding one line that was meant to be throwaway banter, that resulted in the movie being pulled from Chinese cinemas, and which has now been deleted from the film, all the more pointless.

A problem that has plagued many of Anderson’s films is also evident here: hyperactive editing. Hand-to-hand combat scenes are rendered essentially incomprehensible, which is even more of a shame considering that a martial artist of Tony Jaa’s calibre is the second lead.

The selling point of the movie is the monsters, which were designed with the input of game director Kaname Fujioka and producer Ryozo Tsujimoto. Some of the monsters are better-executed than others – the fire-breathing Rathalos is a good movie dragon and the climactic battle is one of the film’s more exciting moments. Unfortunately, the spider-like Nerscylla often feel artificial when they should be scary and unsettling. Overall, the monsters can’t help but feel generic and lacking in character, even if some are integrated well into the live-action footage.

Summary: Monster Hunter is a passable diversion, but it’s hard to connect to much in the movie at all. Sporadically entertaining but ultimately flimsy, this video game adaptation doesn’t seem interested in exploring the world of the source material. It is a lot more watchable than many of the same director’s Resident Evil films though, and Tony Jaa is a significant bright spot.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

GameStart 2014: Yuegene Fay interview

GameStart 2014: Yuegene Fay interview
By Jedd Jong

At the press event ahead of the convention’s launch tomorrow, I got to talk to Thai cosplayer Yuegene Fay, one of the special guests attending the inaugural GameStart convention. She began cosplaying in 2000 and through her cosplays of characters from anime and manga  has garnered many fans. Since English isn’t her first language, she had some difficulty during the interview but it was really fun getting to talk to her. 
When you cosplay as video game characters, do you find that there’s a difference between that and cosplaying characters from other mediums because you’ve been in the character’s shoes, controlling them?

Yes. Game character is quite…easier to do but because the game character they make is more imagine, sometimes it’s quite hard to make the hair, the eyes…

Because it’s more fantasy-driven.

More fantasy.

What’s the first game you remember playing, the one that got you into gaming?

Mario? Let me think, long, long time ago [laughs]. Do you know the GameBoy? The pink one…Kirby! And PacMan.

What are some of the best and worst experiences you’ve had doing location shoots for cosplay?

Let me think [pause]. It was about the animation cosplay. Have one time I go to the sea…no, not sea.

The beach?

No, not beach. Tank. Water, the first time I had to take photo under the water is like a challenge. Because every part in the water, you must be very fast. The photographer is maybe have only two second to capture that picture. Quite hard.

Before you have to go up again for air?

Yeah. Because in the water, my cloth, my hair, very trouble. So it’s only seconds I have to go down, then up.  

What has been some of the most difficult materials to find?


In Thailand have many, many kind of material, quite easy to find, but it’s hard to make them with the photo.

To match it?

Yeah, to match. Sometimes like a dragon? Dragon is have the…how you call it…dragon skin…

Scales.

Yeah. You must make it. Sometimes you cannot find the material so sometimes you need to make it by own self. Sometimes we use the EVA or lumber foam to make it look like. Don’t need the real material.

What are some experiences that you’ve had meeting cosplayers from other countries?

Every country I go is different culture. So, when I meet them, I get a lot of experience and I can learn many many…

Like tips?


Yeah, something like that. However, cosplay is quite start from the same, love of the game, anime, manga, something like that, so we are in the cosplay event, in the cosplay community, we think quite same.

How important do you think it is to understand a character before you cosplay as that character? Some cosplayers will choose to cosplay a character based on how they like the look and design and not necessarily their personality.

I see, I see. Because now, cosplay culture now has been a little bit changed. Many new cosplayers make me feel that cosplay feel like a fashion. So when they go to an event, every event they buy new clothes, look like fashion. But for me, I will look at the background of the character first. I don’t like to see only the photo and cosplay, I love to read the background and learn what this character look like, something like that. I like to see the relationship of every character.

Have you done characters from Western media and if not, are you considering that?

Not yet…oh! I have one, but not finished yet. Elsa.

From Frozen!

But gender-bent. Sometimes, cosplay is not only look like the characters. Now, the new way…because cosplay is for fun. Maybe gender-bend or you can imagine, but is still this character.

To put your own spin on it.

Yeah. That’s more fun. But not finished yet.

What are some of your favourite games that have come out in the last several years?

Favourite games? Final Fantasy VII. Yes, I love it very much. My favourite character is Zack [Fair]. Crisis Core.

Do you have interesting stories about meeting fans, like if they’ve come up to say they’ve been inspired by your work?

I see. Everytime I go to cosplay event, will have some people come to talk with me like “thank you so much for your cosplay, inspire me very much” and I will say “Me? Inspire you?” [Laughs] Because I just do what I want, what I love. But when have some people come to talk with me, then they say my cosplay is very good, make me feel exciting and very happy.

So it’s rewarding experience.

Yeah!

You can see more of Yuegene’s work at her DeviantArt account here.


GameStart 2014 press conference

GAMESTART 2014 PRESS CONFERENCE 

The press conference for the inauguaral GameStart videogame convention was held today at the St. Games Cafe in Bugis+. Organised by Eliphant Pte. Ltd., the lineup of games, activities and special guests was announced to the media.

Elicia Lee explaining the genesis of GameStart

Elicia Lee, the Director at Eliphant, revealed that GameStart was born out of a desire to capture the excitement of major conventions like the Tokyo Game Show and PAX, the Penny Arcade Expo. Members of the Eliphant team, including former GM at EA Mobile Asia Pacific Christopher Ng, had been working in the gaming industry and had travelled to conventions such as the two above-mentioned ones. While referencing those conventions, Lee stated that “We want to be our own show for the Singapore and Southeast Asia audience.”

Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Asia’s Hidetoshi Takigawa

Sony Computer Entertainment HK (SCEHK) will be the main exhibitor at the show, occupying 250 square metres of floor space showcasing around 30 titles for the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita. Gamers will be able to try out hands-on previews for Bloodborne, The Order: 1886, Until Dawn and Guilty Gear Xrd, all due for release in 2015. Masaaki Yamagiwa, the producer of Bloodborne, and Junichi Yoshizawa, producer of Freedom Wars, will be hosted by SCEHK, meeting fans and speaking about their games at the event.

A key part of the convention will be the GameStart Founders Base, spotlighting local artists, designers and other creators in the gaming industry. Exhibitors include Boomzap Entertainment and Witching Hour Studios. Witching Hour is known for their Ravenmark series and their latest title, Romans in my Carpet. “We were very excited to hear about this event and get involved, to tell Singaporean gamers that ‘yes, there is a booming industry here in Singapore,'” said Ian Gregory, co-founder and Creative Director of Witching Hour. Inzen Studio and Liongeeks Studios will also be showcasing their work, as well as homegrown artists Kinetiquettes, who will showcase their crafted licensed Capcom figurines, and conduct a live sculpting demo at their booth over the two days. Gregory will moderate the ‘Joining the Games Industry in Singapore’ panel to offer guidance to Singaporeans looking for a career in the videogame line.

Witching Hour Studio’s Ian Gregory

The finals of the Capcom Pro Tour Asia gaming tournament will be held in conjunction with GameStart and will see top Street Fighter players from Asia vying for a spot in the Capcom Pro Tour finals to be held in the U.S. Pro gamers RZR Xian, MCZ Daigo Umehara, AVM Gamerbee and Jonny “HumanBomb” Cheng will be participating.  RZR Xian made history as Singapore’s first ever EVO winner in 2013 and MCZ Daigo has a reputation as one of the top Street Fighter players in the world. At GameStart, attendees will stand the chance to challenge MCZ Daigo and should they win, their reward will be a PlayStation 4. I’m getting Kobayashi Maru vibes.

Namco Bandai Games and Blizzard Entertainment will also be conducting tournaments and showcasing their new games at the show. Blizzard will be distributing beta keys for Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor and codes for Hearthstone card packs (while stocks last). Sword Art Online producer Yousuke Futami will also make an appearance.

GameStart has partnered with Versus City – Singapore (Indie-Pendent Games) – a gaming shop which specialises in retro game consoles – to run ‘Retro DNA’. Showcasing games and paraphernalia from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and the early millennium, this will provide a dose of nostalgia. The arcade games that will be showcased include Super Contra, Street Fighter 2 Hyper Fighting, Mega Bomberman, Final Fight, Alien VS Predator and Jackie Chan’s Stuntmaster.

Thai cosplayer Yuegene Fay and Australian cosplayer Yasemin Arslan will be at GameStart to meet fans and to judge the GameOn! GameStart Cosplay Competition that will be held on the second day of the convention.

XMashed Gear’s Zhou Xuanming

I spoke to Zhou Xuanming, the owner of and lead designer at Xmashed Gear, the official apparel partner for GameStart. Explaining the concept behind GameStart’s mascot Alyse, Zhou said that initial ideas for the mascot included an android and an alien, but he conceded that “there’s still a very large male audience” and so they went with a girl as the mascot. “I wanted to do something that was sexy but not ludicrously insane,” he continued. Alyse’s design emphasises her athleticism and also includes futuristic elements, using GameStart’s dark blue with orange accents colour scheme. She also has a directional pad as a hair accessory and as a belt buckle. Does Alyse have a last name? “She has a few short-listed last names but for the moment we left it at just ‘Alyse’,” Zhou said with a laugh. If all goes according to plan, Alyse’s back-story will be further explored and we may even get to see an arch-nemesis for her at next year’s GameStart.

The NeoToyko Project’s Charlotte cosplaying as Lux from League of Legends, posing with a standee featuring GameStart’s mascot Alyse

“Her back-story is that she’s an A.I. (artificial intelligence), a gamer from the future,” Elicia Lee added. “She actually was a hologram at one point but then she morphed into this A.I. personality.”

GameStart will be held on the 25th and 26th of October 2014 at the Suntec Convention Centre. 

Jedd Jong