Soldiers attempt a rescue in a monster infected zone.
Many will remember Jive Bunny’s appalling No 1 hit reworking of Chubby Checker’s ‘The Twist’. ‘Come on everybody’, I shouted! ‘C-c-c-come on everybody!’, I reiterated as I attempted to capture the energy of the song as I jigged away in the cinema aisle trying to get the audience in the mood for the film premiere we were attending. It was only when the film began that I realised that the 1996 film ‘Twister’ was about tornadoes and I then realised just why the audience had not joined in twisting the night away with me but looked at me sympathetically and clearly wondering where my carer was.
I wouldn’t make that mistake with a film’s title again and it was just as well with ‘Monsters : Dark Continent’ as anyone expecting a full on monster mash up is going to be disappointed as despite the title this is really a war film with the creatures very much in the background. Following on from the first film where said creatures have expanded their invasion of Earth with the areas they inhabit now called infected zones a small group of soldiers are sent in to deal with insurgency in the same area. All goes well until they are directed to rescue five soldiers lost in one of the infected zones.
Despite the first film’s title it was really a love story and with the monsters brilliantly but time consumingly rendered on a home computer by the films first director Gareth Edwards they were very much supporting actors and served him well to land the directing gig on last year’s ‘Godzilla’ reboot. But despite this sequel having a slightly larger budget the monsters are still really the background against which a war story is told. If anything the franchise seems to be following an allegorical path rather than that of something more akin to the Godzilla movies and anyone expecting it to be anything along those lines will be disappointed.
This is very much a war story that evolves along the lines of Heart of Darkness with the monsters lumbering benignly around in the background almost incidental to the thrust of the narrative. I say thrust if only it were that dynamic because despite all the initially macho dialogue, rock music & posturing as the soldiers wait to be posted once they get to the infected zone both their mission and ultimately the film begin to fall apart as the soldiers own stories are told. So in the quiet moment between the monsters appearance they tell their story which are hardly compelling and serve only to bring the film to an almost grinding standstill. .
Tom Green is an award winning graduate of the National Film & Television School and this is his first feature film and demonstrates an impressive command of effects and an eye for his location. There are some good moments in this – a dog fight with a small monster, the soldiers stumbling across a busload of injured children and the variety of monsters themselves are impressively rendered but is not enough to justify its two hour running time with such a painfully slow pace.
Less jawing and more warring.
Words: Simon Hooper