Movie adaptations of games are terrible, so why am I excited for ‘Monster Hunter’?

History tells us to not get our hopes up, but something feels different this time

Maybe I’m totally wrong. Maybe it’ll all end in tears. But I couldn’t help feeling just a little excited when I watched the Monster Hunter trailer, the forthcoming big screen adaptation of Capcom’s popular action RPG.

Perhaps we’re just starved of big budget popcorn flicks thanks to COVID. Or perhaps you never get over your first crushes – I speak of the ever funny, sassy and cool Milla Jovovich, who stars in Monster Hunter. But I’m really rather hopeful that it will break the expected mould of terrible movies based on video games.

Of course, history tells us to expect little. I will never, ever, shake the existential disappointment I felt as a child leaving the cinema after taking in 1993’s Super Mario Bros. Directed by the husband and wife team of Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, and starring the late Bob Hoskins as the titular plumber, few who watched the movie will ever believe that anyone involved with it had ever booted up a Nintendo console.

Super Mario Bros
Super Mario Bros. Credit: Buena Vista Pictures

The upcoming Monster Hunter film also features a husband-wife duo: Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson. This pair, however, seems to be a bit more experienced when it comes to the world of gaming.

Jovovich, of course, is well-known for her portrayal of Alice Marcus in six live-action Resident Evil movies between 2002 and 2017. It’s also believed that her character in Monster Hunter, Captain Natalie Artemis, is loosely based on her very own avatar within the game.

Anderson – who gets into the director’s chair for the upcoming film – also has numerous directing/screenwriting credits for video game movie adaptations. Apart from all six of Jovovich’s Resident Evil films, Anderson was also behind the camera for 1995’s surprisingly fun Mortal Kombat movie, a rare adaptation that’s actually of some worth. It emerged during an era where beloved video game franchises were treated by film studios with all the affection of dog poo on your shoe. Case in point: the wretched 1994 Street Fighter movie, which was so contemptuous of its source material, you wondered why anyone bothered.

The answer to why anyone bothers adapting a video game franchise to the big screen is simple: They want to tap into the huge pre-established fandoms that are willing to part with money in the hope that something about the titles they love will beam back at them. But in this day and age, fans are increasingly rewarded, not disappointed.

Detective Pikachu review
Ryme CIty’s resident detective mouse, voiced by Ryan Reynolds

2019’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu was a laugh. This year’s Sonic The Hedgehog made it past some truly awful character design in its debut trailer – quickly reworked after online outrage – to be similarly enjoyable. So, like I say, I’m hopeful for Monster Hunter, and thankfully, we don’t have long to wait to find out. The movie is currently scheduled for release in December – barring any delays, like the ones that have hit No Time To Die – and then we’ll know one way or another.

Truth be told, it seems like movies based on video games have gotten better the more established games have become within pop culture. The more they’ve shaken off the belief they’re exclusively for children. The more respect they’ve been given. Now, can someone cast Vin Diesel in an Animal Crossing film, please?

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