Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Monsters: Dark Continent - War, huh, yeh what is it good for?

*** This review may contain alien monster spoilers ***

An American platoon on a mission to extract four comrades are ambushed by enemy soldiers and they must find their way to the extraction point through the alien infested Middle East.

In keeping with the format of the first film the aliens are a background entity to the main plot. Written by Jay Basu and Tom Green, aside from some tidbits of their off spring this follow up offers no great revelations about the aliens. Monsters: Dark Continent feels more of a sequel to a different alien film than Gareth Edwards first outing.

The effects are great, especially the larger Monsters when on display. The acting is outstanding from the cast. Oozing screen presence is Johnny Harris who is notable as the slowly unhinging Noah. Director Green offers a hard hitting war film that pulls no punches with mines, limbs, madness and pressure on display. Yes the analogies of the worlds conflicts is pushed in your face from outset, American politics, warfare, air strikes and its effects on the local inhabitants and the occupying soldiers. If anything, as the soldiers get picked off one by one it's a little too real, relevant and close to the bone. The bombed school bus of children, torture and mine scenes spring to mind.

The opening sets up the relationships of the characters as they live in the ghetto watching illegal alien-like dog fighting. As the men are deployed, it borrows the voice-over of Platoon, unavoidable elements of Full Metal Jacket, Hurt Locker and Jarhead with Basu's plot reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan. Green gives a gritty documentary feel similar to Battle: Los Angeles and Godzilla. Mix in the Middle East kidnappings and setting of Homeland and Rambo 3 and it should be painting a picture of Dark Continent's palette. Yes, there's every kitchen sink war cliché thrown in but it's well written and handled finely by Green with a gusto realism. It's a long hard slog and you feel you've gone through the mill with the characters.

To Greens credit it stands on its own, it's dusty location setting adds to the tense ominous war atmosphere and Dark Continent shows the grim side of humanity. 

Those who enjoy war films will get a kick but as a sequel to Monsters it's subject matter is a hard viewing experience, evoking all the wrong emotions which is not made any easier by none of the original cast returning.

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