Monsters: Dark Continent BR/DVD

Sunday, 30 August 2015 23:00 Written by 

Monsters - Dark Continent - available now on DVD, Blu-ray and as a limited edition steelbook2010's "Monsters" was one of the surprise hits of that year. Shot on a miniscule budget of around $500,000, the film seriously boosted the profile of director Gareth Edwards ("Godzilla"). This inevitable sequel relocates the action from Mexico to the Middle East, and instead of a pensive road movie we get a tense war film set 10 years later. And Cult TV had three copies of the limited edition Blu-ray steelbook to give away in our prize competition!

A squad by the name of Tiger Shark is tasked with patrolling an undisclosed region in the Middle East, focusing on locating improvised explosive devices and overcoming terrorist insurgents. Things are going relatively swimmingly until they receive a mission to investigate the disappearance of another unit. Stopped in their tracks and defending against heavy fire on one side, and unpredictable aliens on the other, survival becomes paramount.

"Monsters: Dark Continent" received quite a lot of stick when it was released in cinemas earlier in the year. In one sense this feedback was predictable, based on the nearly unconditional love expressed for Edwards' original. With a larger budget (albeit one that was apparently still far less than the norm for either a war or a sci-fi film), new director Tom Green (Misfits, Blackout) was almost doomed to fail. There were some more positive reviews floating around, however, and I wish to add my voice to those.

As in the first movie, the monsters take a back seat for much of the picture, making their presence felt more by the noises heard in the background and the choppers and fighter jets seen flying on their way to a presumed encounter with the aliens.

First and foremost this is a raw and sometimes brutal war film that puts us in the middle of the conflict and shows us the shocking physical and psychological effects of short- and long-term exposure to military violence. The camerawork is edgy and adds a palpable sense of immersion.

The acting is good, especially from the two main stars. Johny Harris (Fortitude, This Is England '86) plays a hardened staff sergeant on his eighth tour of duty, and Sam Keeley ("This Must Be the Place", "What Richard Did") plays a private who quickly learns that war can be merciless and is not some easy trip for glory hunters seeking to add meaning to their insignificant lives.

The location work in Jordan is highly atmospheric. Bleached, scrubby land stretches to the horizon with uninviting mountains peaking through the heat-haze. There is little sign of life except for the variously-scaled monsters roaming it, their purpose a mystery.

There are a few really disturbing scenes that will challenge the viewer emotionally, and the film has surprisingly broad range both in terms of tone and action. One minute we witness the platoon goofing around, full of bravado, then all hell breaks out and the gravity of their position hits home with a deadly thud. Breaking up the action sequences are moments of calm and reflection, or shell-shocked nausea, where sounds become muted and vision becomes blurred.

If I had to find fault with this film, it would be that the message is delivered a little too bluntly and with not enough of the subtlety that was present in the original film.

Done right, I feel that the "Monsters" franchise could run and run, relocating the action to different parts of the world and bringing home the issues that affect that area, fringed by the ever-evolving creatures that go about their business of colonising our planet in a bizarre, by-stealth-in-broad-daylight kind of way.

Special features include:

  • The Dog Fight - VFX Breakdown
  • Evolving the Monsters
  • Filming on Location

These three featurettes provide a fairly comprehensive if quite brief amount of coverage, including SFX overviews, interviews with the cast and crew, and behind the scenes footage.

"Monsters: Dark Continent" (2014) is out now on DVD, Blu-ray, and as a Blu-ray limited edition steelbook, courtesy of Entertainment One. The main feature has a running time of 119 minutes approx, carries a '15' certificate and retails for £15.99 on DVD, £17.99 on Blu-ray, and £19.99 for the steelbook, or less from – please note double packs featuring the original film and this sequel are also available.

Thanks to Cult TV and Entertainment One, you had the opportunity to put one of three copies of the limited edition “Monsters – Dark Continent” steelbook on to your mantelpiece, in our prize competition. All you had to do was tell us the answer to the following question: What country was the location work mainly filmed in for “Monsters – Dark Continent”? The answer was JORDAN, and the lucky winners were Michelle Banks of Amersham, Brad Start of Chelmsford, and Geoff Hibbert of Paignton. Well done all, and thanks to the hordes who entered our comp!


Last modified on Tuesday, 08 September 2015 09:00

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