Released on: August 12 2021
Streameable on: Netflix
Directed by: Steve Yamamoto
Starring: Dante Basco, Erica Lindbeck, Brando Eaton, Karen Strassman, Stephen Kramer Glickman, Brian Beacock, Katie Leigh, G. K. Bowes, Jay Preston, Ben Rausch, Caroline Caliston, Dan McCoy
*Spoilers for Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild inbound*
Oh boy! I get to talk about a Monster Hunter thing again! A little while ago, there was a movie/show in production called Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild. This was to be the Monster Hunter movie/show until it was put on hiatus. Then the infamous Monster Hunter movie came out and blew everyone away (from the theatre due to its negative reception). For the time being, it seemed like making a good Monster Hunter movie was but a dream. That is…until news of Legends of the Guild surfaced.
As if it were a phoenix coming back to life (or a hunter recovering from their first cart), Netflix announced they were bringing Legends of the Guild to its streaming platform. I only heard of its existence from news outlets. Legends of the Guild piqued my curiosity when its release date approached. It had characters I recognized from many Monster Hunter games, and it looked like a lot of effort was put into the production. When it finally dropped on Netflix, I checked it out once I had some free time. Does Legends of the Guild complete its quiet?
The film opens to a group of hunters gossiping about an elder dragon, mighty monsters capable of causing drastic and catastrophic changes to any environment they pass through. We zoom in to Aiden, a hunter who begins to tell the story of his encounter with an elder dragon.
Legends of the Guild then proceeds to focus its narrative on a young Aiden, who, at this point, is a fledgling hunter who dreams of hunting the big baddies near his village. While out foraging, he comes face-to-face with a Velociraptor-like monster (called a Velocidrome). It bears his teeth at Aiden and nearly tears him to shreds until an ace hunter saves him. Reluctant at first, the ace hunter agrees to teach Aiden a thing or two about hunting monsters.
Legends of the Guild does what I wanted to see from the Monster Hunter movie right off the bat. It focuses on the world of Monster Hunter without adding any nonsense regarding an irrelevant military or characters that are only vaguely supposed to be from Monster Hunter. For example, those who’ve played Monster Hunter World will recognize Aiden as one of the hunters the player meets at the beginning of the game. There are so many things for fans of Monster Hunter to notice.
When it comes to Legends of the Guild’s visuals, I find myself torn. On the one hand, everything looks faithful to the world of Monster Hunter. The monsters they showcase look phenomenal, and they move as realistically here as they do in the games. On the other hand, I noticed the animation on the hunters feel off, like a computer-animated movie from the late 2000s. It didn’t take away from the movie’s enjoyment, but it was glaring enough for me to notice.
When talking about animation, I feel like not enough credit is given to one of the most essential parts of an animated production: the voice actors. Legends of the Guild’s voice actors do a phenomenal job. Dante Basco (Avatar: The Last Airbender) plays the role of young Aiden, and he fits the role perfectly. All of the other voices felt natural, and they kept me immersed through and through.
My favorite part of the movie was when they showed its main antagonist: the elder dragon Lunastra. Lunastra is a precarious monster to take on, as it breathes fire and can launch a massive explosion that burns everything in its radius to ash. In Legends of the Guild, we see a sea of fire move towards the village at an alarming rate. We zoom in to the fiery hellscape to reveal its cause. A horrifying chimera-like creature emerges from the flames, accompanied by a booming orchestra. It is none other than the queen of explosive flames: Lunastra.
That is how one introduces a monster. Everything about that scene was magnificent, the way it was shot, its reveal, and the raising of the stakes. Absolutely brilliant!
I mentioned that Legends of the Guild has loads of details that Monster Hunter fans will enjoy. Being a Monster Hunter enjoyer, I enjoyed all of the references immensely. Those who are not as into Monster Hunter as the more hardcore audience might miss a lot of these nods. While I believe the movie is enjoyable without having extensive knowledge of the games, I don’t think Legends of the Guild will convert naysayers to the series.
To Legends of the Guild’s credit, trying to write a story around the world of Monster Hunter is no small feat. The story was always Monster Hunter’s biggest fault, as it usually only involves “monster is threatening the village, go hunt it!” When the series tried to emphasize its story, it ended up being the weakest part of the game. While it wasn’t bad by any means, it was nothing to write home about. I firmly believe Legends of the Guild has the best story in Monster Hunter. That sounds like a big compliment, but that is a low bar to surpass.
My biggest complaint with Legends of the Guild is that it left some loose ends unresolved. Before the flashback, the hunters reference Zorah Magdaros (a monster comparable to a moving mountain). While I can make the case that the film ends where Monster Hunter World begins, I would have loved to see them fend off Zorah Magdaros. We never get to see the hunters take on Zorah Magdaros, sadly. I feel like the lack of that plot point’s resolution might cause the beginning of the movie to feel pointless to non-fans of Monster Hunter.
Despite the big, unresolved plot point brought up by the beginning of the movie, Legends of the Guild is a must-watch for fans of the series. I can see non-fans enjoying this film somewhat but might fail to get the most out of the experience. I would recommend Legends of the Guild as a matinee show for fans.