In another world, where humans must battle a variety of enormous monsters to live, a Hunter (Tony Jaa) is separated from his team when attacked by the Diablos, a subterranean horned beast. On Earth, Army Ranger Captain Natalie Artemis (Milla Jovovich) and her U.N. Security team are searching for a missing team in the desert. A storm pulls them through a portal into the other world. They find the remains of the missing soldiers and their smashed vehicles. The Diablos approaches and Hunter, observing them, fires a warning signal. The Diablos is impervious to bullets and grenades and kills two men in the squad.
The survivors hide in a cave and are attacked by giant spiders called Nerscyllas. Artemis is injected with venom. The others try to save her but are overwhelmed. She wakes up in a Nerscylla lair, her team dead or else infected with Nerscylla spawn. She escapes by setting the monsters on fire and runs into Hunter. They fight to a draw and then agree to co-operate to survive. Artemis learns that the dimensional portals are created by the Sky Tower across the desert. They will need to kill the Diablos to get there. Artemis learns how to use Hunter’s blade and together they set a trap to kill the Diablos with Nerscylla venom. Artemis manages to kill the Diablos when Hunter is wounded. She builds a stretcher and hauls him across the desert.
They arrive at an oasis sheltering Apceros, a kind of tortoise like an Anklyosaurus. A Rathalos, which is a fire-breathing Wyvern, flies overhead and the Apceros stampede. Artemis and Hunter are rescued by a hunting group led by the Admiral (Ron Perlman), who explains that the Sky Tower was built by ancients to travel the worlds, and the monsters are there to protect it. Artemis will have to help kill the Rathlos so she can get home.
In the battle, Artemis falls through the portal and returns to our world, but the portal does not close and the Rathlos emerges behind her and downs several human war-machines. She is able to slow it down enough that Hunter can slip through and kill it. The Admiral comes through just as another black dragon-like creature called a Gore Magala passes through. Earth will not be safe as long as the portal remains open. Artemis decides she will have to take down the Sky Tower. In mid-credits, Palio (Aaron Beeiner), the Admiral’s feline friend, arrives to help while a cloaked figure observes from the tower.
The film was written, directed, and produced by Paul W.S. Anderson, based on the video game by Capcom. It was the fifth film by him and his wife Milla Jovovich and was in planning since 2012. It was released during the pandemic by Sony Pictures but did not make a whole lot of money. Critics praised the abundant action, visual effects, music, and the performances of Jovovich and Perlman, but found fault with its direction and editing. Fans thought it was a little simple and did not sufficiently address the complex world of the video game source. It was nominated at the Visual Effects Society Awards for its simulations.
Producer Jeremy Bolt, who had worked with Anderson on the Resident Evil films, managed to get the rights to the game after five years of discussion. The film was largely inspired by Avatar and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Jovovich herself chose the Dual Blades as her favorite weapon because of their beauty in action sequences. It was filmed in South Africa and Namibia and first shown at the Shanghai International Film Festival. It was Jovovich’s seventh movie based on a video game. In the film, she has a tattoo that reads RLTW or Rangers Lead the Way.
Unfortunately, just after the release in China, a dumb joke in the movie that sounded like an Asian insult to the Chinese caused the film to be pulled from theaters there. In short order, the Internet was inundated with thousands of negative reviews, not just of the movie, but of the videogame it was based on. There were plans for sequels because the game featured hundreds of monsters of all kinds and they could only use six in the one film. But my guess is that no amount of apologizing from Anderson or anybody else will allow a sequel to be made.