Normally I take precautions not to see a movie I haven’t seen the previous entry for. But, I was caught out here. But could you blame me? “Monsters: Dark Continent” doesn’t exactly look like a sequel from the box art. But as I saw it, I may as well give the low down on what it was like.
Continuing on from the previous movie “Monsters” (though to what extent I cannot say), it is about a group of friends who want to escape the run down subarbs of Detroit and fight the monsters which are causing havoc in the Middle East. So, they join the U.S. Forces and are shipped out to the Middle East and an un-named country. However, further complications arise as the presence of the U.S. Army angers many factions there and causes a lot of tension. The team do the best they can, until they are sent on an rescue mission to bring home a group of soldiers unaccounted for in the desert.
Sound familiar to the Afghanistan or Iraq War? Thought so, because the similarities are so evident. To the point where the giant monsters attacking the cities and troops become a tertiary element to the story and don’t really effect the story. So if you come into this expecting a monster genre film, you will be really disappointed. Sure enough they do look pretty cool and all, but they’re just a visual tool at the end of the day. Nothing more.
So, instead we need to look at this as a kin-of sort-of modern warfare genre. And to be fair it covers this aspect alright. But each plot progression tool and structural element feels so run of the mill, you have seen this type of film a billion times before. The dumbass, but loyal group of recruits. The untrustworthy locals. The mission that goes wrong. The escape from torture. It is the breakdown from “Modern Army Movies for Dummies” with all the check boxes ticked.
Performance-wise, it’s okay. The cast accomplist what they are set out to do, but without a whole lot of enthusiasm for their roles. The odd moment now and then does show off some talent, but it needed more directorial expertise to allow it to shine further. At least the visuals are good, with nice shots of the barren landscapes, intense battle pieces, and not-all-bad CG for the monsters. But too often they aren’t captured in full frame, or are shot in low light, so you can’t see much detail at all.
“Monsters: Dark Continent” was a big ol’ let down for me. It is a war film dressed in another genre to try and catch more people off their guard who will pick it up based on the title. It has a few good battle pieces, but has very little else to offer of originality. This is one that will sit on the bottom shelf, when it should have been more. It is definitely easy to predict that the absence of Gareth Edwards deflated any chance for this film to do something fun or new. It’s a skip.