Starring Johnny Harris, Sam Keeley, Joe Dempsie
Directed by Tom Green
Diving into the deep end of the low-budget profusion of motion pictures back in 2010, Gareth Edwards’s Monsters was nothing short of mind-boggling, considering how little money was put into production; yet, the film came out looking like something that would have the masses lining up during summer movie season. The idea of literally two people stranded in Central America, fighting their way out of an infected stretch of land after a catastrophic alien invasion was motivated, tense, and damn fun to watch.
Taking over the helm for Monsters: Dark Continent is director Tom Green, who moves the storyline along some 10 years after the initial overtaking and shifts the landscape from Central America to a much more hostile battleground in the Middle East. The infection has spread more than anyone could have hoped to contain, and we’re tossed into the middle of a U.S. Army brigade that has been holding its ground for some time. With the majority of the troops never having served outside of the United States, they look to hardened leader Noah (Harris) – a soldier who has seen more than his ample share of combat, with a total of eight tours under his belt.
Their list of duties aren’t all that admirable: Aside from trying to maintain peace with the natives who aren’t all that enthused with the current state of overcrowding by American troops, they also must wage a heavy war against those pesky alien aggressors on a daily basis. The solution to the soldiers’ conservation is a bit problematic: How do you protect the people from an enemy when the people whom you are protecting are enemies as well?
Sam Keeley plays a solid role as Michael Parkes, a young soldier who joins the fight with a few hometown pals from Detroit; unfortunately, not much more was done to form a more solid mold of identity for these troopers, and when some of them are blown to pieces at different times, you easily brush it off because you felt like you never knew them in the first place – par for the course, however. As the movie plugs along (at a laborious 2-hour runtime), we see the separation of sci-fi/alien flick to more of a human interest/tragedy of war film, and while it’s a nice departure, those who are expecting 120 minutes of straight-up alien ass-kicking will be sorely disappointed.
Green uses the visuals in the movie to convey so much more of a storyline than words or actions – desert shots blend nicely with shelled-out structures, and silence during these scenes is golden, reminding the viewer of the horrors that our soldiers overseas have dealt with on a consistent basis.
Overall, it’s the abominations of contention that define this film, and for Green to move this storyline along in such a fashion is a gutsy move. But it does work. Try not to think of this as your ordinary, everyday “little green men” slay-athon, but a presentation in how the human mind deals with such atrocities. Toss in a little extraterrestrial strife, and you’ve got the makings of a nice watch – recommended for those who like their war movies jammed with conflict in the hearts and minds, as well as on the ground and in the air, against enemies foreign… and even more foreign.