Exclusive: Monster Hunter director Paul W.S. Anderson explains what one must keep in mind when adapting video games into feature films.
Monster Hunter director Paul W.S. Anderson explains what one must keep in mind when adapting video games into feature films. Anderson has plenty of experience in bringing popular video games to the big screen, as he directed both 1995's Mortal Kombat and the Resident Evil franchise. His latest venture, Monster Hunter, is adapted from the Capcom game of the same name. It stars Milla Jovovich as Captain Artemis, the leader of an elite military force. When her team falls through a portal in the middle of the desert, they land in a fantasy world where monsters run wild. Artemis and the others soon team up with a Hunter (Tony Jaa), who help them fight against the terrifying creatures to survive.
Like most 2020 films, Monster Hunter has seen its release plan altered by the coronavirus pandemic. It was once scheduled to premiere in September, but Sony later delayed it to April 2021, a common move for studios these days. Then, Sony caught everyone by surprise earlier this month when it announced Monster Hunter will in fact be released in 2020 - December 30, to be exact. Since then, the first Monster Hunter trailer has been unveiled, as well as a clip giving fans their first look at some of the fearsome creatures.
Screen Rant had the privilege of talking to Anderson about all things Monster Hunter during New York Comic-Con, and at one point, the director delved into the process behind bringing a video game to the big screen. Screen Rant asked what elements a director should consider when adapting a game into a film, and Anderson said it primarily comes down to reaching two audiences: Those who love the game, and those who know nothing about it. Anderson explained:
Paul W.S. Anderson: I think you need to stay true to the to the fabric of the game - which we have done, as I've kind of demonstrated. But also I think you have to be aware that you're walking a very fine line, because as well as making a movie for fans who know a lot about the source material, you're also making a movie for people who don't know anything about it. Mortal Kombat works for both audiences, and I'm always aware of that line. And that's why sometimes hardcore fans take offense because we change some things.
But really, we're trying to do our best to tell a story that doesn't exclude anybody. I think that's the thing you want to not do. You don't want people to go, "Oh, I don't play the game. Therefore, that movie is not for me." You want people who both play the game and don't play the game to go, "That is very cool."
It certainly appears Anderson took that to heart when making Monster Hunter. In the game, the Hunters are the stars of the show, not a modern day military force like the one Artemis leads. For dedicated fans of the game, this change to Monster Hunter's main characters can seem a bit blasphemous, but when considering it along with Anderson's comments, it makes more sense. By introducing characters from the real world, Anderson has crafted an entry point into the Monster Hunter universe for those who aren't familiar with the game.
Whether this move proves to be successful remains to be seen, but it'll become apparent when Monster Hunter is released in December. Like all films from now until next year, there's still a chance it will be delayed again, but Sony is plunging forward as if it won't be. Fans of the Monster Hunter game might be a bit wary about the film, but Anderson is clearly coming from a place of being a fan himself. In the end, he just might achieve his goal of winning over both gamers and non-gamers.