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Monsters: Dark Continent

Year: 2014
Production Co: Vertigo Films
Director: Tom Green
Writer: Tom Green/Jay Basu

This sequel, smelling more of cash-grabbing than the need to continue a story, has more in common with the recent Alien Outpost than it does Gareth (Godzilla) Edwards groundbreaking first feature. It's well made, but the shift in focus from the original premise about the man and woman crossing Latin America through alien-held territory to a macho war movie might disappoint you if you're hoping for more of the brilliant original.

The story is set ten or so years after the events of Monsters, and the huge squid-like alien invaders are now roaming the Earth in large quarantined zones like the Middle East, which is where the story's set.

We meet a group of rookies about to ship out of a crumbling Detroit for their first tour in Afghanistan (just like in Alien Outpost), where the front lines pitch American forces against the monsters as well as a new generation of insurgents who don't want US soldiers on Middle Eastern soil (just like in Alien Outpost).

They team up with a very tough established unit on a dusty desert base (just like in Alien Outpost) and set out on a rescue mission that quickly goes badly. To the film's credit, it quickly, nastily and shockingly dispatches a lot of the characters you've just spent the last half hour getting to know, and the only two men left alive are the greenie and the tough squad leader.

They're taken captive by the interchangeable Muslim madmen you've seen in a million films like this (including Alien Outpost) and have to try to fight their way out while staying out of the way of their fearsome captors and the gigantic beasts roaming the desert.

The plot does a good enough job of filling up two hours of action and there are some unique and quite cool sights amid it all – just two are the little boy with a baby monster in an old tin and the sight of the young creatures galloping across the desert like herds of horses.

It has the gritty, handheld style from most films of the genre and everything about it looks good and works from a narrative standpoint, you've just seen these characters, war movie motifs and even the on-screen aesthetic so many times there's not enough to stand out.

The effects of the monsters are great, giving them much more of a sand-blasted, organic feel than the jellyfish-like colours and cleanliness of Edwards' original, and it would probably look really good on a big screen.

It's just that Monsters: Dark Continent makes two near-fatal mistakes. First, it needs to be a hundred times better to even cast a shadow across the original (a thankless task). Second, it's too much like too many other films to stand out from an increasingly crowded pack.

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