MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Monsters: Dark Continent’ Has Little To Do With Monsters


Film: Monsters: Dark Continent
Starring: Johnny Harris, Sam Keeley
Directed by: Tom Green

Taking place ten years after the events in Gareth Edwards’ Monsters and featuring an entirely different cast of characters in a completely different environment, Monsters: Dark Continent showcases another, far less thrilling side of cinematic universe expansion.

It opens with a soldier standing under a blazing sun while his narration tells us how the world has changed since the monsters arrived. Being a low class kid from Detroit, our hero was left with the option to either fight for his life or make the most of the ruins surrounding his once great city. He chose to fight, and soon he and his closest friends found themselves halfway around the world for the purposes of keeping monsters, as well as terrorists, at bay. He doesn’t have regrets, or at least none that he makes known, but you do sense a slight hesitation in his voice that says more than any amount of dialogue ever could. He may be carrying a gun and wearing a uniform, but underneath all that is a boy who is as scared of the unknown as anyone.

Following a short time spent developing back stories with our hero and his pals in Detroit, Monsters: Dark Continent whisks viewers away to the Middle East. There, under intense heat and sunlight, the monsters have made the largely empty dessert ground their home. Groups of the beings run wild, day and night, with little to no care for people, places, or things in their way. There are even some variations on the creatures found in Edwards’ original, though their purpose and how they came to be remains largely a mystery throughout.

Once on the ground, the soldiers we’ve followed learn they have been given a new assignment. It seems contact with a group of soldiers on a mission has been lost, and given their location deep within the area occupied by monsters there are fears they may be in trouble. The soldiers are tasked with not only locating the lost team, but also bringing them home, and soon they hopped aboard a helicopter en route to their drop zone. Without giving too much away, let’s just say things don’t go as planned, and soon the number of characters we’re following begins to drop. Before long only a few remain, and it’s up to them to finish the mission.

You may have noticed that almost none of the plot outlined above has much, if anything, to do with the giant monsters whose identity makes up the title of this entire franchise. The reason for that is because the story found in Dark Continent doesn’t necessarily need the strange, yet oddly beautiful creatures in order to tell a genuinely thrilling story. They help, of course, but filmmaker Tom Green doesn’t rely on the otherworldly beasts nearly as much as one might assume given the fact they’re the reason this franchise even exists. Instead he uses the human experience, or at least some alternate version of the human experience (based in a world with monsters), as a tool to engage viewers and make them care about what is happening on screen. It works to an extent, but you never shake the idea that the gigantic creatures looming in the background should play a more pivotal role in the central conflict.

I feel I can only credit Green’s storytelling so much because it would seem he was hired to tell one story and delivered something entirely different instead. The story of Dark Continent is by no means bad, and in fact the acting bringing it to life is often quite believable, but it’s not the story genre fans were hoping to be told. Edwards’ Monsters introduced us to strange creatures we had never seen and gave us next to no information about their origin, purpose, or culture. Dark Continent should have filled in some of those gaps in our understanding, but instead it adds to them by introducing variations of the monsters while still providing essentially no supplementary information. What are these things? Where did they come from? How have we spent a decade fighting them and still have no weapons to use in our battle except the same guns and explosions we use today? Why does no one seem to care that we don’t understand these creatures? Green, it seems, doesn’t care to provide an answer.

The decision to make more films based off Gareth Edwards’ Monsters was an obvious one, but the choice to tell the story found in Dark Continent is far more baffling. It’s good, but it doesn’t serve to expand or better explain the universe presented in the original feature. It’s Monsters adjacent at best, and something tells me science fiction fans far and wide will be demanding refunds after learning just how little this films deals with the monsters in its title. If I had been sold a movie about troops fighting for survival in a harsh environment littered with terrorists then I would have walked away from this film happy, but instead I went in expecting aliens and witnessed something entirely different. That’s more than just bad marketing, and it leads me to believe we won’t see another Monsters film for quite some time.


Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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