Monsters: Dark Continent - Blu-ray Review

'The monsters in Monsters appeared not very often but had quite a lot of impact on our protagonists when they did. The monsters in Dark Continent are on screen often but offer little beyond window dressing.'

Monsters: Dark Continent takes an admirable approach to the sequel game. This isn't a remake or a reboot of the original film. It doesn't simply replace Monsters' protagonists with two of its own and tell the same story. It's not satisfied with revisiting the same areas, scenes (to a degree) and locations as Gareth Edwards' excellent 2010 offering.

What this takes instead from Monsters is its thematic resonance. Monsters was a film which featured aliens but was at pains to point out that the 'monsters' were all already here, all around us. The cheating spouse, the violent individuals; from a first person view they were arguably the dark heart and potential for 'bad' in all of us. Dark Continent takes that idea and moves it to a recognisable war zone, which is again peppered with aliens who have little to do with what the film is trying to say. Instead, we end up with two main stars, both employed by the US Army; Staff Sergeant Frater (Johnny Harris) and Private Parkes (Sam Keeley), who experience war, conflict and 'monsters' in their own individual ways.

Whilst the idea is a sound one in some ways, there is a fundamental problem. The alien monsters just aren't needed. Where in the first they metaphorically represented our expressly off-screen internal fears, the worst parts of human nature, here, all of that is on screen anyway. The monsters in Monsters appeared not very often but had quite a lot of impact on our protagonists when they did. The monsters in Dark Continent are on screen often but offer little beyond window dressing. Only a handful of scenes with them, which hint that we may be misunderstanding the creatures by summarily bombing them into next week, have any resonance and it's again arguable that that point is conveyed without them. 'Put a bullet in a monster, that was supposed to be our war', says Parkes in overly heavy opening narration. The point stands with or without the aliens, in a narratively heavily laced with the unnecessary outcomes of recent Middle East conflicts. 'Are the IEDs for the monsters, or for us', a character asks later, laying it on even thicker.

Thus somewhat undermined from inception, director Tom Green does still give things a good go. Several of the scenes in the desert call to mind the beautiful contrasting cinematography of Jarhead, whilst the director is ultimately wise to essentially repeat Monsters closing scene, as two characters realise the innate potential beauty of the monsters, if only they stopped shooting them for a second and embraced optimism.

You can easily argue to knock off a star if you've had your fill of war moralising, but the visuals are occasionally impressive and the entire endeavour is laced with the same well-meaning as Edwards' original, even if it is ultimately far less successful.




Monsters: Dark Continent is released on UK DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 31st August 2015.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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