REVIEW: ‘Monster Hunters: Legends of the Guild’ Is The World’s Biggest Cutscene

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Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild 

Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild is a Netflix Original Animated Film, directed by Steve F. Yamamoto and written by Joshua Fine. Taking place prior to the events of Monster Hunter 4, the film follows young Aiden (Dante Basco) who yearns to be a Monster Hunter. Aiden soon encounters veteran Monster Hunter Julius (Brando Eaton) who is tracking a powerful Elder Dragon. Upon learning that the Elder Dragon will lay waste to his village, Aiden recruits other Monster Hunters to help defend his village while learning the lifestyle of the Monster Hunters Guild.

This film seems to be targeted toward Monster Hunter fans first and foremost, which will no doubt be a boon after the largely disappointing live-action film last year. Part of this is due to the film’s tendency to explore various elements of the Monster Hunter mythos, including a surprising reason for why Aiden cracks various puns involving the monsters. One Hunter, Lea (Erica Lindbeck) is also keeping a journal of the various monsters she faces; this shows that there are Hunters who actually view the monsters they face as more than threats to be taken down. And there is a surprisingly pro-environmental message laced throughout that also doesn’t place all the blame on the Elder Dragon’s destruction; humans can be just as destructive as the monsters they fear.

The designs for the monsters and Hunters also feel ripped right from the video games. Yamamoto previously worked for visual effects on multiple blockbusters including the Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films, and his team at Pure Imagination Studios has clearly done their homework. From their armor, which Lea’s shimmering silver armor and butterfly wings to Aiden’s sword and shield being crafted out of the hide of a reptilian monster, to monsters such as the reptilian Velocidromes and the spiderlike Nerscylla, players will feel right at home while watching the film. Perhaps the biggest experience that’s closest to the game is the fight scenes; the various Hunters utilize their special weapons and strategies to battle the beasts and take them down. At one point, I even had to look down to make sure I wasn’t holding a controller in my hands; that’s how immersive the fight scenes were. I also admit that a big smile crossed my face during the final fight sequence, which pulls quite a bit of inspiration from Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.

However, for all the attention that Fine’s screenplay gives to the finer details of the Monster Hunter world, it feels painfully lacking when it comes to characterization. Julius is the typical grizzled veteran character that populates fantasy tales; the fact that he bears more than a passing resemblance to Geralt from The Witcher doesn’t help matters. Lea is the typical “book smart” character who has to learn to live life more in the real world than in the pages of a book. It’s baffling as Fine’s served as a writer on shows including The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Wolverine & The X-Men, which managed to give their respective ensembles strong character traits in the series premiere alone. The only character to have a semblance of an arc is Aiden, but even he goes through the standard hero’s journey from cocky young upstart to skilled hero. It helps that Basco infuses Aiden with enough personality to make up for the script’s shortcomings; much like Prince Zuko and Jake Long Aiden is a kid who wears his emotions on his sleeve and has to learn how to control them.

The other shortcoming of Legends of the Guild is its runtime, which clocks in at barely under an hour. This is not enough time to delve deep into the characters or give proper weight to the Elder Dragon’s destruction. Much like Dynasty Warriors, Legends of the Guild could have greatly benefitted from an expanded runtime; had this been a 90-minute feature it could have truly given the characters and the world the breathing space it needed. I hope that The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf doesn’t suffer the same fate.

Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild will probably appeal to longtime players due to its attention to the lore, though its runtime and character development leave much to be desired. I can only recommend watching this if you’re a Monster Hunter fan; otherwise, this film won’t really move the needle on one’s opinion of video game films.

Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild is currently available to stream on Netflix.

 

Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild 
  • 6/10
    Rating - 6/10
6/10

TL;DR

Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild will probably appeal to longtime players due to its attention to the lore, though its runtime and character development leave much to be desired. I can only recommend watching this if you’re a Monster Hunter fan; otherwise, this film won’t really move the needle on one’s opinion of video game films.