A snooze-worthy sequel that offers nothing that its title, posters and trailers promote
(Warning: This review contains minor spoilers.)
If you haven't seen Gareth Edwards' Monsters (2010), it's probably recommendable that you watch that one first, and then watch the recent war films. That way you'd get the best of two genres without having to go through this boring, pretentious sequel that's directed and written by disappointing feature film first-timers, Tom Green and Jay Basu, respectively. Monsters: Dark Continent's response at the London Film Festival 2014 was so bad, it's most likely the reason why it's release was postponed twice from last year November to this year.
Why I recommended to watch the recent war films instead is simply because this film tries very hard to be a unique version of them, with the creatures as nothing more than only gimmicks. Sure, the first film has its though-provoking political themes and all with the monsters very much sidelined as well, but at least it also engages with the two highly relatable main characters and their relationship. The worst part of this sequel is that the characters are supposed to be afraid of the gigantic extraterrestrial octopus-like creatures and yet their presence is pretty much non-existent besides appearing in a few scenes just to show that this is set in that same world as the first film. The CGI may have improved a lot, but sadly no thrill and entertainment value here at all. Not even the brutal war action between the US Army and the Middle Eastern characters, that's supposed to convey the real-world issues and anti-war "overkill" subtext, which are either too obvious that we don't need a film to educate us, or it's already been done by other better-made war pictures.
The story takes place 10 years after the events of the first film. The "infected zones" have spread globally and a team of US Army is sent to the desserts in the Middle East to help keep the locals safe and to take out some heavily armed terrorists. The film is led by two main characters - Sergeant Frater (Johnny Harris), a strong experienced leader who'd do whatever it takes to complete missions, and Private Michael (Sam Keely), a compassionate newbie - I'm sure you know where this is headed already. Basically Lone Survivor (2014) with huge aliens as the background. The committed performances by the cast are commendable despite overacting at times, but that's probably contributed by the dramatically cheesy script, with poor character and relationship development which made me care for none of them at all throughout the entire movie.
There may be overuse of the "shaky-cam technique" to intensify the gritty war action sequences but it's certainly not cinematographer Christopher Ross' fault that the film is almost thoroughly unintriguing and snooze-worthy. The interesting first film was produced with obviously a way lesser budget and Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) did the directing, writing and cinematography all by himself. If Edwards would've served as more than just the executive producer for this sequel, it could've been something special. Pity.
Malaysia censorship: Nothing was cut at the press screening. There are quite a bit of vulgarity, violence and brutality.
Second opinion: My girlfriend said she couldn't maintain her focus on the movie and has no idea the hell was going on. I don't blame her.
Verdict: Boring sequel with the war film cliches of humans battling humans instead of the creatures in the background.
Rating: 1.5 / 5
Genre: Sci-fi war thriller drama
Running Time: 119 minutes
Director: Tom Green
Screenwriter: Jay Basu
Cast: Sam Keeley, Johnny Harris, Joe Dempsie, Sofia Boutella
Malaysia Release Date: 30 April 2015
Local Distributor: TGV Pictures
Production: Vertigo Films
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