Ten years after the events of MONSTERS, the extra terrestrial creatures have escaped their Mexican infected zone and spread across the globe. The American army have deployed their men overseas to tackle the lifeforce in the infected zones of the Arabian Desert. With innocent civilians accidentally being caught up in the bombings of the creatures, a new insurgency has arisen and a group of young American soldiers led by veterans Forrest and Frater of the Tiger Shark division must deal with the uprising swiftly and efficiently.
Whatever you initially expected from this movie, forget it. This film isn’t so much about monsters… in fact, you’ll be extremely disappointed if you’re looking for an alien-lifeform-on-Earth type movie. The first film from director Gareth Edwards was pretty much the same, focused more on the relationship of two people than the creatures the film was named after. MONSTERS: DARK CONTINENT is pretty much Jarhead or The Hurt Locker with a few giant squid-like monsters roaming the desert. The film isn’t even about the monsters but about a group of friends serving in the U.S. forces, deployed to the Middle East to battle an insurgency whilst the fighter jets deal with the mammoth creatures. The horror and emotional drain in this movie comes from the humans and the humans alone. The battle is not with the monsters but between two sets of people who differ in their beliefs, each trying to kill the other. The American soldiers are forced to watch their every move with the threat of IEDs, armed militants and suicide bombers at every turn whilst the insurgents wish to rid their land of the American invaders. The only thing these two enemy factions have in common is they both want rid of the monsters too.
I thoroughly enjoyed MONSTERS: DARK CONTINENT as a representation of war. It’s not a pretty sight and the young men have to deal with the harsh realities of war, something they’re not accustomed to. You can see the fear in their eyes and every single one of them look to be questioning why they signed up for the army in the first place. Everything is foreign to these young soldiers, not just the country. They’re clearly out of their depth and rely on the experience of their commanders but what happens when their superiors begin to lose a grip? The whole way in which the drama of war plays out feels very real, much more realistic than other war films recently. It’s frustrating, upsetting and frightening at times, and you get to see how it effects each of the soldiers in different ways.
As a war movie, there’s very little to fault but I can’t deny I’m disappointed that there’s a distinct lack of monsters in the movie, especially given the title. The monsters play second fiddle to the ensuing battle between humans and they’re merely a backdrop, blending into the background. The monsters, when shown, appear to be quite beautiful creatures which mirrors how not all Arabs wish to kill the U.S. soldiers as a band of Arabs live out in the desert and give food and shelter to the U.S. soldiers in their time of need. I suppose there’s a lesson here to not judge a book by its cover and that by gaining knowledge and understanding instead of assuming and running in blind would actually be beneficial for all involved.
Strong performances from the cast amidst a desolate, war-torn landscape makes for a compelling watch.