There are few surprises to be found in the serviceable “Monster Hunter.”
The latest offering in the kaiju genre is, not surprisingly, based on a video game and, not surprisingly, directed by Paul W. S. Anderson (“Resident Evil”)
Kaiju refers to giant monsters, or strange beasts, which often attack cities and end up fighting military forces (think “Godzilla,” often considered the great-grand-daddy of such films.)
“Monster Hunter,” stars, not surprisingly, Milla Jovovich (Anderson’s wife, incidentally.) It, too, is based on a series of video games.
Jovovich is Lt. Artemis (I like her name, because it’s a reference to the Greek goddess of the hunt.) The setting seems to be the not-too-distant future on earth, where Artemis leads a group of soldiers on some kind of rescue mission in the desert.
A sandstorm, with flashes of lightning, transports the crew to a desert in another world, where they come across sandworms – along the lines of something from “Tremors” – gigantic spider-ish creatures and even familiar-looking dinosaurs.
Artemis meets a hunter (martial-arts expert Tony Jaa, “Furious 7”) from that world. They learn to communicate so they can survive the critters together and perhaps get Artemis back to her own world.
Ron Perlman is on hand as a friend – or is he? – who may be able to assist Artemis in her Dorothy-esque quest to get back home. There’s also a feline character who’s a fighter (think Puss in Boots from the “Shrek” movies, only tougher.)
Some of the action sequences are entertaining. Heaven knows Jovovich, who for some time has branded herself as an action star, has done this before, and she’s fun to watch along with Jaa. Throw in a dinosaur stampede and a fire-breathing dragon and you have enough to entertain gamers and action fans in a movie that may not be memorable but will help while away the winter for a couple of hours.
2 out of 4 stars
Rated: PG-13 for violence and foul language.
Running time: One hour and 40 minutes.
At Cinemark, Davenport, and Palms 10, Muscatine.