Monsters: Dark Continent (2014)

(On Cable TV, January 2017) What a disappointing follow-up to a quirky breakout movie. Monsters wasn’t perfect, but it had great scenery, an interesting take on the alien invasion theme and a low-budget charm. This sequel, which abandons the dynamics of a couple’s trek in favour of a desert-bound military thriller, is just … dull. It doesn’t look too bad, but it’s simply boring in ways that its premise suggests it shouldn’t. Domesticating the alien means that deadly threats are reduced to a beautiful light show, and the story doesn’t seem to go anywhere. The links to the original film story are tenuous (same creatures, different part of the world but the background information doesn’t seem to hang together) but whatever story is put forward in this follow-up doesn’t go beyond the usual Iraq war movie clichés. The aliens are barely part of the plot. It doesn’t amount to much either, barely pushing the first film’s mythology forward and even regressing in some ways on the “alien as infection” angle. The only actor of note here is Sofia Boutella, showing up briefly to save the film from an excess of testosterone and being distinguishable from a cast that largely looks the same. While it’s possible that Dark Continent may be after the same themes of futility and hopelessness engendered by the American experience in post-liberation Iraq, there’s very little depth and even less interest in the result. File this one under “DTV sequels to avoid”.

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