According to Monster Hunter prop master Kerry Von Lillienfeld, the hardest thing about creating practical props for a movie that was going to be full of giant, digital monsters was simple: he had to make the practical props both look good -- and look like the Monster Hunter video games, on which the film is based and of which director Paul W.S. Anderson is a huge fan. That meant spending hours meticulously replicating certain elements -- and it also meant finding the limitations from time to time. One of those limitations was one you might not expect: Von Lillienfeld himself is not much of a gamer, and so it was a challenge to get meaningful samples to work from.
Even once they did that -- and the process is kind of funny, actually -- he still had to port over as much of the fantasy world of the games as possible. One such example was an absolutely massive sword which, while big in the film, could have been even bigger if not for the fact that people had to be able to not just carry it, but move in and out of sets with it in tow.
"Paul wanted to be really, really accurate with some of our stuff," Von Lillienfeld told ComicBook. "So I'm not a gamer, but I bought the game. And it's a difficult game. It's not just one of those ones that you can pick up and go for. So I got my son to try and play. It didn't really work out so well, so the production actually got a young guy in who was a really, really good gamer, and he just sat and played. We'd go down and explain to him what we needed, and he would play until he got to that, and then he'd record those scenes for us....All of the weapons, we tried to match exactly to the game. Some of the scale you can't -- you know, we made some big, big weapons, but in-game, some of it's even bigger, but you gotta take into account that an actor is going to be walking around with, you know? That giant jaw blade to they, which is a great sword that Tony Jaa has -- that we made. That's a big sword, and we made it, you know, we had like a half one with the green turf and a quarter one, but most of the time they were acting with the real sized, real-deal thing. The first time I picked it up, I was just thinking, 'how's anybody going to even work with this?' It was just insane. But Tony Jaa walked in for his first fitting, and I gave it to him and he just picked this thing up and started flicking it around and doing these crazy things with it. And our jaws just dropped. He's just such a natural athlete, and he just made it look so easy."
Monster Hunter is available to buy on digital platforms now. The movie is set to release for digital rental, as well as on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K on Tuesday, March 2.