Fol­low-up is a mon­ster mess

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket - with Ian Bunting

Mon­sters: Dark Con­ti­nent (15)

Mon­sters was a sur­prise crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial hit back in 2010 but hav­ing moved on to the big time with Godzilla re­boots and Star Wars spinoffs, orig­i­nal direc­tor Gareth Ed­wards is a no­tice­able ab­sen­tee from this very dif­fer­ent se­quel.

Tom Green — mak­ing his big-screen bow af­ter work­ing on TV’s Mis­fits — takes over be­hind the cam­era and co-wrote the story with Jay Basu (Fast Girls).

Set 10 years af­ter the events of Mon­sters, Dark Con­ti­nent sees the zones in­fected by alien crea­tures spread world­wide, with the fo­cus on a US Army troupe at­tempt­ing to deal with the threat of both the ex­trater­res­tri­als and lo­cal in­sur­gents in the Mid­dle East.

Yep, we’ve moved on from the orig­i­nal’s in­ven­tive flip­ping of Amer­i­cans try­ing to cross the Mex­i­can bor­der to the familiar bom­bas­tic ‘War on Ter­ror’.

Much like The Purge, the film­mak­ers de­cide to take the first flick’s premise and go in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion; Alien-to-Aliens com­par­isons will also be made but don’t go in ex­pect­ing full-on man ver­sus beast shoot-outs.

If you thought the tit­u­lar crea­tures were sec­ondary in the orig­i­nal then pre­pare your­self for even worse here — the mon­sters pro­vid­ing noth­ing more than vis­ual win­dow dress­ing.

Sure, there are new beast­ies, in­clud­ing buf­falo-like herds and small, jaw-snap­ping pests rip­ping dogs apart, but for all the im­pact they have the FX team needn’t have both­ered putting in all of their hard work.

No, this is a war movie — pure and sim­ple. It’s like Battle LA with a lit­tle more thought be­hind the story and more hu­man-on-hu­man con­flict and emo­tion.

Johnny Har­ris (This is Eng­land ‘86) brings his usual in­ten­sity as squad leader Noah and the oth­ers in the cast, led by a raw and rage-filled Sam Keeley, con­vince as a group of wet be­hind the ears sol­diers thrust into hell on earth.

The film’s high­light comes about half-an­hour in when the team come un­der attack in a vis­ceral, in­tense set-piece com­plete with lost limbs, blood, sweat, tears and buzzing flies.

Green and Basu de­serve credit for re­fus­ing to sugar coat the ef­fects of war — and giv­ing cre­dence to both sides of the divide — but they lost me the mo­ment they present a school bus loaded with crit­i­cally wounded kids. It’s an un­nec­es­sary, un­com­fort­able mo­ment that takes things too far, es­pe­cially in what’s sup­posed to be a sci-fi block­buster.

The for­mer does, though, show di­rec­to­rial prom­ise with sev­eral in­ven­tive vi­su­als, in­clud­ing a Juras­sic Park T-Rex-like close-up of one of the aliens’ eyes peek­ing in a win­dow and a track­ing shot of mo­tor­bikes rid­ing through the desert.

But it’s not enough to save this dis­ap­point­ing, frus­trat­ing fol­low-up that feels like false ad­ver­tis­ing at its worst.

A Mon­sters movie with­out Mon­sters? Why bother!?

Crea­ture con­flict The mil­i­tary go to war in this se­quel

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