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WIRE Buzz: Monster Hunter reviews; The Stand's Randall Flagg in new clip; and In the Earth teaser

By Josh Weiss
Monster Hunter

After the successes of Pokemon: Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog, video game adaptations have a lot to live up to. Sadly, it doesn't sound like Paul W.S. Anderson's big screen take on Capcom's Monster Hunter titles doesn't break free of the curse that continues to plague the video game genre of filmmaking.

Variety's Peter Debruge compares the film to Anderson's lucrative Resident Evil movies, "in that it moves along at a steady clip, dispensing with all but the most rudimentary character details in order to maximize the stuff that excites the fans — namely, striking compositions and carnage. Most of the time, during action scenes, you can't tell what's happening, but it seems to make sense to the characters, and the overripe sound design (which sounds like someone assaulting a couch with a baseball bat or smashing up the produce section at a grocery store) creates a kind of continuity through the Cuisinart cutting."

IndieWire describes the movie as "virtually unwatchable," with David Ehrlich writing: "Not since Paul Giamatti's immortal cameo as the Rhino at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a film this bad tried this hard to whet our appetites for more. In this case, it's impossible to fathom how a Monster Hunter movie could have given us any less. How fitting that a movie made without any imagination whatsoever should end by defying our own."

Written and directed by Anderson, Monster Hunter stars Milla Jovovich (the director's real-world spouse) as the leader of an elite military team who find themselves transported to a dimension full of — as the title suggests — monsters. They struggle to stay alive until they meet the mysterious Hunter (Tony Jaa).

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club extols the project's few saving graces in their review:

"The budgets of his films may be in the mid-eight-figures but their generic pleasures are those of good old-fashioned B movies. In Monster Hunter, that includes Aliens-riffing claustrophobia (another Anderson specialty) and some terrific giant spiders — it's been a while since anyone made a decent giant spider movie. As far as themes are concerned, they are mostly chestnuts: evil forces and impromptu solidarities between archetypes faced with the odds. The former is represented by some kind of lost civilization, the latter by the initially antagonistic Artemis-Hunter relationship."

Monster Hunter stomps into theaters everywhere this Friday, Dec. 18.

A little over a month after it wrapped production, Ben Wheatley's pre-Tomb Raider horror film, In the Earth, has dropped its first unsettling teaser trailer. Set in a world ravaged by a deadly virus, the project centers around a scientist and park scout who "venture deep in the forest for a routine equipment run."

Speaking with Empire Magazine for the November 2020 issue, Wheatley described the effort (originally titled The Growing Green) as "post-COVID horror" and "a time capsule" of the pandemic era. He explained: "There are all these films that are contemporary, but feel like they're a hundred years old because they don't reference any of the stuff that, globally, has happened to everybody."

Watch the teaser now:

In the Earth will enjoy its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

It's time to meet Alexander Skarsgård's Randall Flagg (aka the "dark man") in a newly-released clip from the nine-part miniseries based on Stephen King's The Stand.

After most of the world's population is wiped out by a government-created strain of influenza, Flagg — the plot's main antagonist — seeks out a weak-minded individual to serve as his right-hand man. That person turns out to be Lloyd Henreid (played by Natt Wolf), a petty criminal stuck in a jail cell after his captors succumb to the virus known as "Captain Trips." Starving and desperate, Lloyd promises to do whatever this charming and ominous stranger asks him to do.

Head over to Entertainment Weekly to take a look at their first meeting in a scene ripped straight out of the source material.

"Our story really, in some ways, begins once the world is emptied out and these two groups of survivors start to coalesce around these two figures of Flagg and Mother Abagail, and those two sides are going to come together in this climactic confrontation," showrunner Ben Cavell told SYFY WIRE.

The first episode of The Stand premieres on CBS All Access tomorrow (Thursday, Dec. 17). See what critics are saying about the first six episodes right here.