"What Dark Continent does is create a visceral war film that strives for the character involvement"
Gareth Edwards’ 2010 cult classic Monsters was an interesting take on the simple adage of ‘what happens next?’ Whereas many films would focus on an alien or monster invasion of Earth, Edwards was more interested in how an invaded world might look, all the while keeping the story rooted in the lead characters and their journey.
In some ways, it’s a sequel to an invasion film that doesn’t exist in the first place. When an actual sequel was announced, minus a Godzilla-bound Edwards, the question was how would it work? It’s a question you will still be asking after this underwhelming and unnecessary follow-up.
Set ten years after the events of Monsters, Monsters: Dark Continent sees the infected zone stretch to the Middle-East, where a fresh insurgency has begun as the US army calls in reinforcements. The references to US foreign policy are obvious from the start, but what isn’t obvious is quite what this film has to do with the first.
Yes, the creatures are present, but they serve almost no purpose to the plot whatsoever. One could argue this was the case with the original, but their presence was relevant and a way in to the human story, as we followed the two lead characters attempting to make their way home via the infected zone.
What Dark Continent does is create a visceral war film that strives for the character involvement of Monsters but finds itself lacking. It’s not that the soldiers (whom we follow) are not likeable but the plot isn’t particularly involving, it’s occasionally episodic and it goes on far too long.
The notion of who the monsters actually are does come to into focus somewhat towards the end but while some of the visual battles are competently handled in a handheld style, they aren’t anything we haven’t seen before in better, more recent war films and therein lies another problem – this wants to be a war film, all the while sitting on the shoulders of a left-field science fiction movie. Sadly though, this has little in common with the origina, both in content and quality.