One of the most scorchingly hot takes in recent history is that, you know what, the Monster Hunter movie is a great laugh—it might even be the best videogame movie ever made. Not a little of this is down to its faithfulness with most aspects of Capcom’s long-running series, but the slightly Hollywood exception is that they stuck a load of marines in there.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson recently spoke to IGN about elements of the film, observing that the concept of bringing ‘modern’ humans into the Monster Hunter setting was inspired by the feeling he had playing one of the games for the first time: examining these luscious virtual landscapes as an outsider.
“I was influenced by the first time I played the game or anyone plays the game, you know, you’re a modern person going into this world and discovering it for the first time. And you’re doing so with a character you’ve created [….] so you’re essentially a stranger going into this world, and I wanted to recreate this sense of wonder I had the first time I went into this world. You can only have that sense of wonder if you’re seeing it with fresh eyes.”
Which is, at least, a reasoning one can follow. Later in the chat Anderson moves on to the idea of these characters being soldiers, however, and it’s here where he raises an eyebrow or two.
“The idea of a kind of military person was suggested by a crossover that Monster Hunter did with Metal Gear Solid, where you got to be Snake Solid [sic] and shoot these creatures with a machine gun. I thought well that’s organic to the games because it’s already been done, plus it’s an interesting way in.”
The game Anderson is referring to is Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, a superb PSP game in which you played as Big Boss / Naked Snake. Among the many endgame challenges were some Monster Hunter missions (which was huge on PSP at the time) in which you’d go off to an island as Snake with a bunch of rocket launchers, and shoot a Rathalos or a Tigrex. These were a great little bonus but a minor part of Peace Walker, so it’s fun to see this unexpected influence they’ve had: Mr Kojima really does get everywhere.
Whether Anderson’s latching onto a convenient coincidence or otherwise, the military angle of Monster Hunter ends up working better than one might expect. This is primarily because the movie gets right down to killing most of them off via monster, but it also plays into the pretty spectacular final sequences. Let me put it this way: I never thought military hardware was an obvious fit for Monster Hunter, but then I saw a Rathalos fighting a tank and loved it.