Monsters: Dark Continent (2014) Film Review from the 58th Annual BFI London Film Festival, a movie directed by Tom Green, starring Joe Dempsie, Sofia Boutella, Sam Keeley, Johnny Harris, Kyle Soller, Nicholas Pinnock, Parker Sawyers, and Michaela Coel.
A sequel to Gareth Edwards‘ 2010 indie sci/fi hit Monsters, Monsters: Dark Continent already had a recognizable name and a loyal fan base to count on at its start point. Dark Continent acts as somewhat of a sequel, in the sense that, the only connection to the first film; are the monsters (whom have been changed themselves).
In the sequel, the monsters, now dubbed MTR’s, have adapted to Earth’s harshest environments and are reproducing and evolving at an incredible rate. The film takes place 10 years after the alien’s arrival and is set in an un-named Middle Eastern country (shooting took place in Jordan so that would probably be a good guess).
The sequel, very much like the first film, is heavily character based, with the monsters being distant secondary characters. MTR’s come in all shapes and sizes; some are even as small as dogs (hence the dog/monster brawl in the film). I suppose that’s what passes for entertainment in a post-invaded world.
The U.S. military has been dispatched to help fight the aliens, but they keep coming up against local insurgents who don’t appreciate the high level of collateral damage that occurs on a nearly daily basis. This places four new recruits in a highly volatile situation: The narrator Michael Parkes (Sam Keeley), his best friend Frankie Maguire (Joe Dempsie), and their two fellow soldiers Williams (Parker Sawyers) and Inkelaar (Kyle Soller).
The new recruits leave behind a troubled life back in Detroit and are in no way prepared for the battle they have ahead of them. Much of the cinematography is eerily similar to Battle: Los Angeles (2011). The all of the scenery is specifically set to have a dystopian feel to it.
The recruits are put to work by the heavily PTSD stricken Sgt. Frater (Johnny Harris), who has them helping out local children in an attempt to ease the new recruits into their new lives. However, the team is soon called into action when another squad is trapped deep behind enemy lines. The mission goes wrong immediately and after that it’s just a battle to stay alive with whichever members of the squad that has survived up until that point.
Sub-textual inferences aside, the film gets more interesting as time goes on. As I’ve already mentioned before, the visuals are fantastic as evidenced at a night-time scene when an MTR ejects Phosphorescent spores into the sky.
The intense emotions and dialogue are what keep the film from falling flat on its face. Much of that is due to the fantastic chemistry between Soller and Keeley. The film is far removed from the romantic setting of the first film. With the focus now being on friendship and bonding with brothers-in-arms.
The first few minutes of Monsters: Dark Continent made the film seem as though it was recruitment video sent out to high schools. As it progressed, its purpose became increasing clear. By its conclusion, the viewer has a film that poses a lot of questions, many of which are meant to be answered in one’s head.