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SYFY WIRE Monster Hunter

NYCC: Monster Hunter director Paul W.S. Anderson talks Capcom's influence, right down to toenails

By Justin Carter
Monster Hunter

Despite what some vocal fans of Resident Evil may believe, Paul W.S. Anderson loves him some video games. After directing the movies based on that game franchise, which will be getting a reboot of their own in the near future, Anderson has now turned his eye toward another Capcom staple: Monster Hunter.

Speaking at the film’s panel during New York Comic Con today, Anderson described himself as a longtime fan of the franchise. He’d discovered the action-RPG franchise 12 years ago in Japan (its primary source of popularity until Monster Hunter World in 2018), and two years later he acquired the film rights after approaching Capcom about adapting it. Compared to Resident Evil, Anderson says Capcom was much more collaborative when working with him on Monster Hunter, providing insight on everything from script to costumes, and even having the game’s animators talk about creature movements and ... well, toenails. In one case, the toenails were too pointy, if you can believe it.

Check out the full panel below:

Beyond gushing about hunting those monsters, Anderson also got incredibly candid about his previous game adaptations. In the case of Resident Evil, it’s an action franchise with a female lead, and also the highest-grossing film franchise based on video games in general. Originally, Alice (played by Monster Hunter lead Milla Jovovich, also Anderson's wife) was going to be a male character. But Anderson pushed “very hard” against Screen Gems to let her take center stage. Alice wasn’t a character from the games, but he believed she allowed creative leeway unavailable if they’d adapted a game wholesale.

“Gamers would come to the movie knowing exactly what the mystery beats would be,” he argued. He even believed this stayed true to the games, which change protagonists with each numbered installment. “This was a franchise that was used to new characters in it.”

And then there’s Mortal Kombat. In Anderson's words, a lot of people weren’t initially into the idea of adapting a fighting game into a movie. Fighting games aren’t always known for story, but the lore of Kombat hooked him, and he wanted to be true to the game. Even when it seemed like it wouldn’t be feasible — such as providing fights between Johnny Cage vs. Scorpion, and Liu Kang vs. Reptile — luck and test audiences demanding more kombat helped his dream become reality. The original movie was a box-office success, but he passed on the critically panned sequel, Annihilation.

“I wasn’t a huge fan of what ended up being put on screen,” Anderson admitted, saying that he’d had “no regrets” about not taking that film. 

Anderson’s energy about adapting video games is most evident when he talks about Monster Hunter, though, as you can see in the newly released featurette above. As a filmmaker, he fell in love with the world and creatures that Capcom created, and committed to being realistic enough for the CG monsters to stand out. “Absolutely everything else has to be as real as we can possibly make it,” he stressed. The cast and crew had to live in “tent villages” for everyone to live in while filming in South Africa, with the water and electricity often breaking down in the midst of the varying temperatures.

Challenging as it was, Anderson believed it made them feel like adventurers and actual characters in the game, right down to the cast swinging the giant weapons to slash those enormous monsters in the face.

Monster Hunter is scheduled to release in theaters Dec. 30.

Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of New York Comic Con Metaverse 2020.