Gareth Edwards’ debut feature-length theatrical release Monsters is very much a human character-oriented story – one that’s told against the backdrop of a fantastical setting, where mysterious gigantic creatures now roam the Earth. In other words, it’s the low-budget predecessor to Edwards’ Godzilla movie franchise reboot, and a far cry from the upcoming sequel, titled Monsters: Dark Continent (which Edwards only produced).
The new trailer for Dark Continent (see above) builds on the previous teasers, by emphasizing combat sequences that pit humans against the invading “monsters”, over the more intimate human drama in the movie. A few years ago Edwards gave his blessing for another filmmaker to come in and play in the Monsters sandbox; by the look of it, director Tom Green (Misfits, Blackout) has, if nothing else, put a very different spin on the universe that Edwards did, with the sequel.
Story-wise, the Dark Continent screenplay written by Jay Basu (The Dinosaur Project) picks up seven years after the first Monsters installment – trading in an “infected zone” near the U.S./Mexico border (“infected” meaning where mysterious giant aliens run wild) for a different area in the Middle East. U.S. soldier Noah Frater (Johnny Harris) is participating in the organized effort to “protect U.S. interests from the Monsters” in the region, when (in a Heart of Darkness-inspired twist) a high-ranking American soldier goes rogue within the nearest “infected zone” – and Noah is tasked with tracking him down and killing him as necessary, lest he endanger the greater war effort.
Both Edwards’ Monsters and Godzilla reboot were generally well-received within the film critic community (71% and 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, respectively), though each film also got flack from a vocal minority of reviewers and/or regular moviegoers who wanted less human drama, more creature-oriented spectacle. Dark Continent, by the look of it, should deliver some pretty solid monster visual effects (given the smaller budget) and battle scenarios – far more than Edwards’ first movie, that is.
Question is, will the shift towards more “Monster” fights and fewer moments of quiet introspection result in the underlying metaphors of Dark Continent feeling all the more ham-fisted for it? Not per se, but going by what we’ve seen of the “human elements” in the Monsters sequel thus far, that is a legitimate concern at this point. We’ll hope for the best, of course, especially seeing how the Monsters franchise is one that has the potential to be worth sustaining beyond two movies.
Monsters: Dark Continent currently does not have a U.S. release date, but will reach U.K. theaters on November 28th, 2014.