Monsters: Dark Continent (2015) Review
I can’t think of another sequel that shits so thoroughly over the original like this since “Highlander 2: The Quickening”. Gone is the poetic mystery and ethereal majesty of the original and in its place is a ham-fisted metaphor for the war on terror which plays out like a SyFy original movie cobbled together from “American Sniper” B-roll footage.
It may want to be “Aliens” to the original’s “Alien” but instead of picking up and expanding the themes of the original it’s almost like they took a worn-out and clichéd Middle East war movie and then slapped some CGI alien monsters into the background to try to leverage some goodwill and interest from Gareth Edwards’ original. In fact, I think you could digitally remove the alien monsters from this movie without impacting the story whatsoever.
After a brief recap of the origin of the alien contamination and adding in the new wrinkle that some fragments of the crashing satellite landed in the Middle East, the movie wastes no time in hammering home its allegory for American action in Iraq and Afghanistan by advising that military strikes against the monsters had caused some collateral civilian damage which in turn has created a new anti-American insurgency in this unspecified, generic arab country. Infuriatingly for a film called “Monsters”, our group of raw recruits arrive in ‘Afraqistan’ only to be told their priority is not the alien creatures but the insurgents.
In a way, it kind of makes sense because we don’t actually get to understand what threat the monsters pose – they never actually attack anyone, or do much apart from appear in the distant background, like gigantic, placid cattle. Unfortunately the foreground is occupied by unpleasant, unlikeable characters who are introduced in a pseudo-rap video Detroit montage of urban decay, grotesquely gratuitous sex, nudity and drug use and then do nothing to redeem themselves. The blame for this lies with debut feature director Tom Green, coming off the back of some sterling TV work on “Misfits” who was given free reign to make whatever film he wanted as long as it had monsters in it. I’m not even sure his script, cowritten with Jay Basu, even makes any reference to the alien threat. The cast are decent enough, but “Game Of Thrones”’ Joe Dempsie struggles to make much of an impression and despite the best efforts of “The Fades”’ Johnny Harris to inject some intensity and life, the whole thing just feels hollow and boring.
Predictable, tedious and ultimately pointless, this must be a profound disappointment to Executive Producer Gareth Edwards, who was busy making “Godzilla” so wasn’t able to be very hands-on during production. Oh, wait – is it trying to make the point that humans are the real monsters? Nah, the real monsters are the people who tried to shoe-horn their crappy “Hurt Locker” knock-off into a sequel to “Monsters”.