Monsters was a breakthrough hit for Gareth Edwards back in 2010 and assisted in him getting the Godzilla gig. Its low budget approach to literal monsters who have landed on Earth creating an infected zone in Mexico was refreshing if a little staid.
Now, the sequel has arrived, set ten years after the events of the first film. The infected zones have reached as far as the Middle East and so the battle is now between humans and the monsters as well as humans against humans. Using the ongoing issues in the area as a backdrop to the new events is quite a clever ploy, albeit one that never really takes off.
We follow four friends who are on their first tour of duty and have to deal with the dual threats of both terrorism and extra-terrestrials. They arrive under the belief that they’re going to be bug hunting until their superiors make it very clear that the biggest is still the one offered by those who resent them being there, not least because of the fact that some bombing runs have inadvertently resulted in the loss of lives of locals.
Herein lies the problem with the film. It doesn’t know whether to be an army film ala Jarhead, or a war analogy set in present time against an otherworldly enemy. It gets caught somewhere in the middle instead. Where you should really care about the friends and what happens to them, it seems you are just waiting for the next glimpse of the aliens, who appear to have evolved and multiplied somewhat.
Their superior deciding that this would be a good time to want out does not help their plight, and this does offer some tension in scenes as you wonder if they are all going to make it. But the stars of the show should be the titular creatures. In the original, there were reasons you couldn’t see them apart from fleetingly, but across a desert vista stretching for miles that ideal does not translate as well.
A final scene reveal of a creature that had a minor role earlier in the proceedings does provide a gasp out loud moment, but they are too few and far between. This would have been better off as a straight war story or perhaps a full-out monster assault with a Special Forces team instead of a group of grunts.
Instead, we are given a film that has a crisis of identity and suffers as result. They say that you should always leave viewers wanting more, but after two hours you’ll be glad when this reaches its climax.
MONSTERS: DARK CONTINENT / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: TOM GREEN / SCREENPLAY: TOM GREEN, JAY BASU / STARRING: JOHNNY HARRIS, SAM KEELEY, JOE DEMPSIE, KYLE SOLLER / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 31ST