Monsters: Dark Continent (2015)

30 Nov
Set 10 years after the events depicted in the 2010 movie Monsters four friends are deployed to the Middle East to help combat a growing jihadist insurgency and an alien infestation which has now spread globally.

A visually bleak tale told in a coarse, grinding style it is the personal journey of Michael, a young combat soldier which is at the core of Monsters: Dark Continent (M:DC). From the derelict suburbs to the harsh desert landscapes, shot in washed out colour, with an almost unlikable cast of characters M:DC is something of a dour experience, but then perhaps that is the point These are grim men at the sharp end of conflict.
It would be remiss of me not to preface this with a SPOILER ALERT but at times but M:DC felt so formulaic you could almost anticipate what was about to happen. All the familiar war film tropes are present, from the small group of hometown buddies being sent overseas to fight, the wide-eyed rookies, grizzled veterans, the inevitable death of a friend, all driven by the customary rescue-mission narrative.What sets M:DC apart from the plethora of war films depicting the war in the Middle East is the alien infestation. Whereas the original Monsters only showed us fleeting glimpses of the aliens, M:DC presents us with a closer look at the creatures through various stages of their life cycle, from tiny insect-like young to herds of gigantic behemoths roaming the deserts.The CGI eye-candy could have easily overpowered the story however the aliens are employed more for symbolic effect, serving as signposts for Michael’s own transformation, and it is this which draws you into the journey. Director Tom Green might have been tempted to go all ‘Starship Troopers’ but has instead utilised the aliens in a far more restrained and ultimately satisfying manner.
A strange mash-up of contemporary war film and sci-fi,  Monsters: Dark Continent, whilst perhaps not as original as Gareth Edwards sleeper hit, more than holds it own. Worth watching.
Roger Beatson

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