Mon­sters: Dark Con­ti­nent

Sins Of The Desert

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Cinema -

Re­lease Date: 27 Fe­bru­ary

15 | 123 min­utes Direc­tor: Tom Green Cast: Joe Demp­sie, Sofia Boutella, Johnny Har­ris, Sam Keeley, Ni­cholas Pin­nock

Gareth Ed­wards

emerged as a tal­ent to watch back in 2010 with Mon­sters, a pas­sion project that he wrote, di­rected, de­signed and shot, while also con­jur­ing up im­pres­sive vis­ual ef­fects on his own com­puter. The re­sult was a fas­ci­nat­ing, char­ac­ter- driven stroll through a world for­ever changed, where gi­ant alien crea­tures ar­rived on the back of a crashed Nasa probe and cre­ated “in­fected zones” where it’s danger­ous for hu­mans to tread, lest they see gi­ant squid things hav­ing it off near petrol sta­tions. Ed­wards has since moved onto big­ger beastly things with Godzilla, so for Ver­tigo Films to make the most of the crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial love for Mon­sters, some­one new was needed.

Tom Green swaps the likes of Mis­fits for his first big- screen out­ing, and has de­liv­ered a film that takes the ba­sic idea of Mon­sters, spins the clock ahead 10 years and drops mil­i­tary char­ac­ters into a Mid­dle East en­vi­ron­ment where the unchecked spread of the ex­tra- ter­res­tri­als has amped up the ten­sion be­tween West­ern forces and the na­tives. The plot finds sol­diers on a seem­ingly rou­tine – but still very danger­ous – pa­trol mission to try to win friends among the lo­cal hu­man pop­u­la­tion and cut down the aliens, with any thought of peace­ful over­tures now aban­doned. And, what do you know… things don’t go to plan.

Sadly, Dark Con­ti­nent tries a lot of dif­fer­ent ideas but doesn’t quite pull them off. The shud­der­ing, Paul Green­grass- alike cam­er­a­work dis­tracts more than it de­tails, and ev­ery shot is loaded with some stylis­tic quirk. The ac­tors, in­clud­ing Joe Demp­sie and Johnny Har­ris, start out with plenty of char­ac­ter, but de­volve into cyphers as the stakes are raised. Only Har­ris, with typ­i­cally in­tense grav­i­tas, makes much of an im­pres­sion.

There’s an ad­mirable at­tempt to broaden the can­vas and ex­plore themes of West­ern en­croach­ment into Mid­dle Eastern lands and the re­ac­tion of their peo­ples, but the points made are hardly rev­o­lu­tion­ary and the aliens end up largely as win­dow dress­ing. A dis­ap­point­ing se­quel. James White

The aliens end up largely as win­dow dress­ing

Some hip­sters’ beards get way out of con­trol.

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