Monsters: Dark Continent
Derivative sci-fi sequel from debut director Tom Green starring Joe Dempsie and Johnny Harris
Four years ago, British director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) made his stunning debut with Monsters. Working with a miniscule budget, Edwards' expert balance of a high concept premise – two civilians thrown together in the aftermath of an alien invasion – and a subtle approach to storytelling resulted in one of the best science fiction films of recent years.
Set ten years after the events of that film, the sequel Monsters: Dark Continent had terrific potential to further explore the long-term effects of humankind's co-existence with extra-terrestrials. What a disappointment then, that screenwriters Tom Green – who also directs – and Jay Basu have approached this tale from the all-too-familiar, all-guns-blazing perspective of a platoon of American soldiers (including Joe Dempsie and Johnny Harris), drafted to the Middle East to control the insurgent groups that have sprung up in the wake of Western attacks on the aliens.
That Green and Basu are both relative newcomers is revealed by their derivative narrative, and it's a great shame that they were not encouraged to try something new. Despite the otherworldly creatures on the horizon this is well-trodden terrain, a testosterone-fuelled rampage through a world in which women exist merely to serve (as mothers, hookers or enigmatic ciphers), while the story exists merely to string the explosions together. Attempts at allegory are both obvious – mankind is the monster here, you see! – and clumsy and, from the pre-conflict montage of the soldiers letting off steam by way of drinking, drugs and prostitutes to the embittered, shell-shocked military veteran, no war movie cliché is left unexploited.
While there are some beautiful visuals to be found along the way, including a striking alien birth, they simply cannot compensate for this two hour-plus barrage of guns, bombs and male posturing, in which plot and character development are ultimately as redundant as the monsters themselves.
Screened as part of the London Film Festival 2014. General release TBC.