When you consider that he’s only directed one feature length motion picture—one with a miniscule budget at that—it’s surprising that Legendary and Warner Bros. tapped Gareth Edwards to helm such a titanic spectacle as Godzilla. Still, something in his 2010 creature feature Monsters caught the eye of the studio, and you can see the result stomping through theaters this weekend in the form of a revamped franchise. Edwards’ first film has spawned a franchise of its own, and the sequel, Monsters: Dark Continent, has roared back with a new trailer.
Part of what makes Monsters stand out is that the creatures themselves are kept off screen for the majority of the film, only revealed near the end when necessity dictates. This is largely a logistical concern. Edwards and company had little to no money to work with, and he actually handled all of the visual effects on his own. Still, he uses this teasing to great ends, building up the tension before the big unveiling. That said, Dark Continent doesn’t appear to have the same qualms or limitations as its predecessor. This trailer may only be slightly over a minute, but there are creatures crawling everywhere, and they look pretty damn intense.
The action picks up seven years after the original, and the “Infected Zones”—areas full of giant monsters from space—have spread across the globe and humans are no longer the top of the food chain. You get the impression that the set up is intended as a distinct metaphor for the war on terror. US forces have been deployed worldwide in order to protect American interests, and the result is what amounts to an endless, unwinnable war against an enemy that doesn’t fight like you expect.
Noah (Johnny Harris) is an experienced soldier. He’s been on enough tours to have earned himself some ghosts and demons. When an American soldier goes rogue in the Infected Zone, it becomes Noah’s job to locate him and bring him back. After his convoy is destroyed, Noah finds himself alone with a new recruit, the brother of the man he has been sent to kill. This portion of the story, the journey into an unknown area to retrieve an out of control soldier, is an obvious nod to James Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, or at least Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. They do have a pair of young woman along for the ride, guiding them along their route, and like all the best monster movies, you may discover that the real monsters aren’t the giant alien creatures.
Directed by Tom Green, Monsters: Dark Continent opens later this year.