Monsters: Dark Continent
- Acting 5
Monsters: Dark Continent is barely a sequel, failing to follow its predecessor in virtually every way, instead playing out as a very cliched war drama, with little to no actual monsters.
Monsters was an original indie sci-fi film that shocked and surprised most with its quiet release in 2010. It was received so well that director Gareth Edwards got hired for Godzilla because of his success with Monsters.
Monsters: Dark Continent is the highly-anticipated sequel, which changes directors and brings in an entirely new cast and a new location, promising to tell the story through the eyes of Army soldiers. The result is a film that barely gets off as a sequel, let alone a good war drama, because Monsters: Dark Continent is a cliched mess, exchanging actual characters for stereotypes, while occasionally showing a monster or two in a backdrop.
Ten years have passed since the events of Monsters and now the creatures have started to spread worldwide, including the Middle East. Now, the U.S. has sent in more soldiers to not only fight the human enemies on the ground, but to also take care of this growing monster population before it becomes an even bigger problem.
Monsters: Dark Continent picks up distantly after Monsters, allowing for director/writer Tom Green to cast a fresh batch of characters and take advantage of an entirely new situation. He does this by distancing this sequel as far as possible from the original, with the only real connection being the monsters and their general design.
But Monsters: Dark Continent isn’t really a sequel, because it has virtually nothing in common with its predecessor. For starters, Monsters wasn’t exactly an action-packed sci-fi flick and instead a slow burn character study between two people trying to live among the monsters and make it home safely.
It used the monsters as a brilliant background to the story, allowing connections to be drawn between these unexpected alien arrivals and the world’s own problem with closing down borders between countries and how to treat minorities worldwide.
Monsters: Dark Continent doesn’t continue that hidden subtext trend and instead tries to humanize its characters and story by giving us several stereotypically tough soldiers of war, with some being hard-as-nails bad asses, while others have sympathy for the innocent monsters that are caught up in a war that they didn’t even start or appear to want any part of.
Tom Green and his fellow writer Jay Basu undercut this fact rather hard, trading out actual character exploration and definition for a few short cuts of any given character looking back at a monster after killing it without an exact reason. This doesn’t create emotional feelings and instead feels like a forced second thought, attempting to create that magic that was made in the first film, while doing it without any real understanding of why it worked so well in the first film and why it doesn’t work at all here.
The budget seems to be well-used, with the creatures looking decent enough for a smaller budgeted film. Green definitely knows how to capture the size and scale of the beasts, while also making everyone look up in awe, but he doesn’t really give us anything that we haven’t seen in the first film.
The rest of Monsters: Dark Continent is your standard war drama, with characters having difficulties adapting to the war lifestyle, while also trying to figure out if what they’re doing is just and morally acceptable. It’s not that all of this is particularly bad, but it just doesn’t blend well with the present sci-fi element that should be the main center of attention or at least given just as much thought.
It’s like Green forgot all about the monsters and simply made a very typical war drama, bringing forward all of the genre cliches and pacing problems and then randomly infuses some creatures in the back drop, while forcing them on us a little more towards the film’s weak ending, which resolves nothing and leaves very little impact.
Monsters: Dark Continent is just a bad mixture of two genres, never allowing either to go past their initial introductions. The war stuff is basic and tired, while the sci-fi stuff is barely noticeable until it’s downright forced on us towards the end. Nothing exactly works, yet the film still looks good considering its budget and cast of no-names.