'Monsters: Dark Continent' leaves the original far, far behind

'Monsters: Dark Continent' is more 'American Sniper' than 'Godzilla,' with aliens tossed in as an afterthought

The 2010 British sci-fi flick "Monsters" never became a blockbuster or even a sleeper hit here, but it made enough of an impression among studio executives to land filmmaker Gareth Edwards a gig directing Hollywood's 2014 "Godzilla" reboot.

Although Edwards is onboard for the new "Monsters: Dark Continent" as an executive producer, the sequel bears no resemblance to his original, thematically or stylistically.

Whereas the original "Monsters" was a road movie about an odd couple fleeing an alien-infested zone, "Dark Continent" cribs from contemporary war movies like "The Hurt Locker" and "American Sniper," then tosses in extraterrestrials as an afterthought.

In the typical cinematic post-apocalypse, an alien invasion would prompt us humans to set aside our differences and fight the common enemy. But inexplicably in "Dark Continent," American soldiers stationed in the Middle East not only have to contend with the giant tentacled creatures but also the insurgents. For some reason, the latter are solely responsible for American casualties here.

Alien behemoths aside, "Dark Continent" follows a fairly conventional trajectory that takes the soldiers from poverty-stricken Detroit — via an overlong exposition — to the treacherous Middle East on a mission to locate MIAs. The film loses their humanity along the way, merely going through the motions and offering no allegorical insight.


"Monsters: Dark Continent"

MPAA rating: R for graphic war violence, language, strong sexual content, nudity, drug use.

Running time: 1 hour, 59 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills. Also on VOD.

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