If you think of video game movies, there’s a good chance Paul WS Anderson’s work will quickly come to mind. As the director and / or producer of all six Resident Evil films, he’s not only made the most successful video game movies of all time, but he’s also made a name for himself doing so. He isn’t done with Capcom games, however. Then Anderson takes on Monster Hunter and has gone to the ends of the earth, literally, to make his next epic. We caught up with the director to find out how he got on board with Capcom, the harsh environments of filming in Namibia, and the sunburnt eyeballs along the way.
When Anderson talks about Monster Hunter, there is a palpable excitement in his voice; he often uses words like “wonder” and “amazement” to describe the games. Those two feelings are something he conjures up as something he tries to translate into his film. On the one hand, it’s probably a fair amount of marketing talk; he’s talking to us about promoting his next blockbuster after all. On the other hand, it’s easy to buy that he really feels it in the movie and the show as well. When he launches, he doesn’t really stop, explaining why he loves Monster Hunter and what it’s been like to adapt him for the big screen. He gathered a lot of information in our 30 minute phone call.
Anderson says he first discovered Monster Hunter 11 years ago, when a friend in Tokyo suggested he watch the games. “At this point, Monster Hunter was really, as you probably know, some kind of exclusively Japanese phenomenon; it was relatively unknown outside of Japan, but it was a very big problem in Japan, ”says Anderson. Game Informant. “I could immediately see why.” He immediately wanted to make a movie, he says.
Paul WS Anderson (right) directing actors Tony Jaa (left) and Milla Jovovich (middle)
At the time, Anderson was a few films deep in the resident Evil series, which would go on to become the most successful video game adaptations of all time, bringing $ 1.2 billion worldwide. Despite this success, he says developer / publisher Capcom was reluctant to give him the green light to Monster hunter, and from creation to release, it’s been over a decade; he started launching Capcom around 2009. The global success of Monster Hunter: World in 2017, however, ultimately gave Anderson the green light he was looking for.
But even compared to resident Evil, Capcom has been very active with Monster hunter, Anderson said. Many times in our interview, he brings up Kaname Fujioka and Ryozo Tsujimoto, respectively director and producer of the Monster Hunter series at Capcom, as being heavily involved in the process – especially when it comes to the monsters in the film. “I would say that Fujioka-san and Tsujimoto-san, we were in the driver’s seat together, sharing the wheel,” Anderson said. “Or we had three separate ruffles.”
“My feeling was that if I could please Fujioka-san and Tsujimoto-san and the level of detail, clarity and specificity that they want, if they are happy, then even the most hardcore fans will be happy,” he adds.
Monsters in Monster hunter were made using CG, of course; there is no way around it. For the film world, however, Anderson wanted to shoot on location instead of a studio backlot. But corresponding to the spectacle of the Monster hunter world proved to be a challenge for him and his team. So they scouted locations around the world, finding spectacular scenery that closely matched the game’s fantastic scenery. Most of the film was shot in South Africa, as well as the harsh deserts of Namibia.
As Anderson says, the locations chosen by the team were over 200 miles from the nearest civilization. They had to erect tent villages in the middle of the desert to accommodate 300 people, pump their own water and run their own electricity. There was also time to face. “Nature did not foresee humanity living there,” says Anderson. “During the days, we had temperatures of, like, 50 degrees centigrade. It’s like 120 Fahrenheit or something. Like, insane heat. Then during the night, it would drop below zero.
The result, again, is that feeling of wonder and astonishment that Anderson says he felt while playing the games. He tried to pick places that could be as true to the game as possible, even though it was perilous. “We have literally gone to the ends of the earth,” he says.
Paul WS Anderson on the set of Monster Hunter
There’s a pretty safe argument to be made that Anderson went beyond the film’s call to environments. This argument could also apply to the monsters in the film. According to him, creating the CG monsters in Monster hunter took a year and a half – by design. Anderson says he didn’t want the animators to rush for six months to the end of the project, doing a job that wasn’t their best. So he gave them the time to really make the creatures in the movie, and he says it paid off.
“Now that the movie is over, the combination of these real giant landscapes with creatures locked in reality and creatures that took over a year to build and animate with input from the creators of these creatures at Capcom, the results are mind-boggling, ”Anderson says. “I mean, really, these will be the best monsters we’ve ever seen, in my opinion.
If Anderson has a recurring motif in his video game films, it’s his main star, Milla Jovovich. The first two started working together on the first resident Evil, in which she played the film’s protagonist, Alice, a role she played for 15 years in all six films. She is also Anderson’s wife. Unsurprisingly, alongside actors like Tip “TI” Harris, Ron Perlman and Tony Jaa, Jovovich stars in Monster hunter. Almost 20 years after starting working together, Anderson considers her a great creative partner, who, even on a film full of extremes, was willing to go the extra mile for her part.
“If your main actor is ready to go to the end of the world to shoot Monster hunterSaid Anderson, “living in a tent in alternating sub-zero and very hot temperatures, enduring dust storms, enduring scorched eyeballs, which she did, the whites of her eyes were sunburnt in the moment we got to the end of the movie because she was working so hard under the harsh desert sun. If your lead actress is willing to do that extra nine yards for the movie, that will also help everyone push their limits. “
It’s been a long decade for Anderson trying to make a Monster hunter movie, but it’s almost there. Monster hunter hits theaters on December 18 in the United States and only in theaters, which may raise a few eyebrows, given the current COVID-19 crisis. But in Anderson’s mind, while not the most elegant answer, see Monster hunter on a big screen is the way to do it.
“I think – listen, there’s no prediction of the future; you just have to hope for the best,” Anderson says. “You know it’s a really fun movie, I’m incredibly proud of it. I think it’s the best movie I’ve made and I’m glad people are finally seeing it, after working on it for so long. If anything is worth going to the movies, this is it, because it was built for the big screen. “
This story originally appeared in issue 332 of Game Informer. To purchase a copy of the magazine or a subscription, click the button link.
Image credits: Sony Pictures