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TV Review: Monarch - Legacy Of Monsters
Some Secrets Cannot Be Contained
This is a quick review of the soon to be released (come November 17) television series Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters. To better keep up to date with my thoughts on other movies follow me on Letterboxd.
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Via Letterboxd: Set after the battle between Godzilla and the Titans in 2014; the world now knows that monsters are real. One family will embark on a journey to uncover buried secrets and a legacy linking them to the shadowy Monarch organization.
This is one of those write-ups where I have to be straightforward with you the reader about the fact that if there is anything I’ll plead guilty to its being a full-blown Godzilla simp. Its Godzilla films that made me get into the movies in the first place, and a vast majority of them are A-tier projects in my book. Included among those is the Monsterverse series of films starring the King of the Monsters and another iconic film creature in King Kong. A series with up and down reviews but audience scores that have been climbing with each new entry. And a series that quite frankly I adore and have enjoyed every entry of.
Now the Monsterverse is adding television shows to their little cinematic universe with the first being a King Kong centered animated show on Netflix that I have to admit to not have gotten around to. Now comes next month a Godzilla centered series that revolves around the monster hunting group Monarch Sciences that tie the whole Monsterverse together. And it won’t surprise you as a self-admitted Godzilla simp that the five episodes Apple so kindly allowed me to watch of the ten episode series makeup for a thumbs up review from me, leading me to be motivated enough to write my thoughts about a TV show for only the second time in this film-centric newsletter’s existence. But that’s not to say there aren’t flaws either.
One of the biggest issues the Monsterverse has had with critics is the sudden shift in tone from the more grounded 2014 Godzilla film to the more whacky and Showa-era like bombastic 2021 Godzilla VS Kong. There are some that wish the franchise stuck more to the early tone of that first film. Well for those who do, this is a much more grounded entry compared to the latter parts of the franchise. Fantastical things like a hollow Earth and monsters having more personalities and lore-building rivalries with one another isn’t part of this. The creatures’ threat and awesome presence among humanity is emphasized over just wanting to see monsters clash in big CGI spectacle.
But one major mark against the Monsterverse has been the writing of the human characters. Personally I’ve never had an issue with this but I’m not blind to the fact even those who like the movies have brought this up as a problem. Well if that’s been an ongoing annoyance for you, this is the most human-centric Monsterverse story yet. Thanks to the time a series can provide over a movie we get much more depth to these characters and come to get to know them more as the series progresses. They are the heartbeat of the story where as Godzilla and the monsters are what sell it. If this isn’t enough for those who have complained about this part of the Monsterverse, I’m not sure if any human characters will suffice for them in this universe.
The ensemble are all great but the highlight comes from Kurt Russel and Wyatt Russel’s performances as younger and older versions of their character. Wyatt in particular does such a great job playing a younger version of his dad that you’d almost think MCU de-aging technology was involved.
Sans Godzilla, the monsters are all (at least so far) new creations from Legendary and the designs have been great in my opinion. They only get so much screentime but they shine when they do and the CGI in this has clearly been giving major movie budget like money thrown at it - though admittedly there’s some rough looking green screen moments here and there in the human story.
However I will admit that if I were to rank this among Monsterverse projects I’d rank this dead-last. Not that I think this is bad, its been an enjoyable watch half-way in, but the monsters don’t have much screen time and clearly Godzilla is being slowly built up to have more of a presence in the final episode or two rather than show up every episode like the marketing has teased. Like I said this is a human-centric story and the monsters are more background players in comparison to them though I’m anticipating much more monster action towards the end. And because of this it all plays out like a slowburn and it took some time for the story to find its footing. You’re gonna’ have to invest into the first few episodes to really get into it.
There’s still five episodes for me to see and the series is a month-plus away from releasing to the public, but so far I’d give this a solid B+ which can go up to an A- or down to just a plain B depending on the rest of it. Its the most human story yet of the franchise and will give us insights into Monarch that the movies don’t have time to give us. There’s new monsters and us Godzilla fans will mark out whenever he shows up onscreen, but it is a much more grounded and human-centric tale that has a slowburn pacing to it. My verdict is us Godzilla and Monsterverse fans will love it and casuals will like it for the most part but not be necessarily blown away either.
Regardless with this, an upcoming Japanese standalone film to release next month and come to the states in December, and the fifth Monsterverse film coming out next Spring, its never been a better time to be part of the Godzilla fan club.