For enthusiasts of colossal creatures roaming the wilderness, the upcoming installment of "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!" is on the horizon. In the interim, a different breed of monumental personalities takes center stage in the Godzilla spin-off, "Monarch: Legacy of Monsters" on Apple TV+. This delightfully cheesy escapade serves as an extension of the recent "Monsterverse" films, notably the epic showdown in "Godzilla vs Kong."
The series introduces an intriguing dynamic with Wyatt Russell and his ruggedly seasoned father, Kurt, portraying the same character in different eras. Wyatt embodies the US military roughneck Lee Shaw in the 1950s, a time when the American government stumbles upon the existence of Godzilla and other colossal Titans. Fast forward to the present day, and Kurt, at the age of 72, steps into the role of the cantankerous older version of Lee. Much to his chagrin, he becomes entwined in a conspiracy involving "Monarch," the covert organization he helped establish decades ago to monitor the Titans.
In the Monsterverse films, the star power of Godzilla and company often overshadows the human characters, even when portrayed by charismatic stars like Millie Bobby Brown, Bryan Cranston, and Vera Farmiga. Similarly, in "Legacy of Monsters," the two Russells share the screen with a rotating cast of young actors depicting Monarch researchers from the 1950s and their contemporary descendants. The series promises an enjoyable blend of creature-feature nostalgia and familial intrigue as it explores the enduring legacy of these larger-than-life monsters.
The human characters in "Monarch: Legacy of Monsters" might be a lackluster bunch, effortlessly overshadowed by the colossal critters stealing the limelight. Godzilla, in particular, maintains a reliable presence, appearing at semi-regular intervals throughout the series. A standout moment unfolds as Godzilla wreaks havoc on the Golden Gate Bridge, with scientist Cate Randa (Anna Sawai) seeking refuge behind a bus. The looming presence of the monster evokes a palpable sense of sheer, overwhelming enormity—an awe-inspiring spectacle that defines a top-tier creature feature.
The 1950s narrative introduces a compelling array of CGI monstrosities. Young Lee collaborates with monster experts Keiko (Mari Yamamoto) and Bill (Anders Holm). Bill, a youthful iteration of the character portrayed by John Goodman in 2017's "Kong: Skull Island," serves as Cate's grandfather in the present-day timeline. Together, the trio embarks on a series of Indiana Jones-style adventures, navigating various encounters with the irritable Godzilla. The monster endures their wide-eyed fascination, akin to a TikTok star growing weary of endless selfies.
The vitality of the colossal creatures plays a pivotal role in the success of a TV show bearing "Monster" in its title, and in this regard, "Monarch" holds its ground admirably. While occasional questionable CGI shots and the evident use of actors shouting at tennis balls on sticks may be noticeable, the generous servings of Godzilla's on-screen presence compensate for these shortcomings. "Monarch: Legacy of Monsters" on Apple TV+ manages to deliver enough earth-shaking thrills to validate its place as a worthy extension to the Monsterverse.
In conclusion, "Monarch: Legacy of Monsters" proves to be a thrilling extension of the Monsterverse, offering a delightful blend of creature-feature nostalgia and contemporary storytelling. While the human characters may lack the charisma to match their colossal co-stars, the series compensates with memorable sequences featuring the iconic Godzilla, showcasing his awe-inspiring scale and wreaking havoc in true monster movie fashion.
The 1950s storyline introduces a compelling trio of characters embarking on Indiana Jones-style adventures, adding depth to the creature-centric narrative. The intergenerational connection, with Anders Holm portraying a younger version of John Goodman's character from "Kong: Skull Island," adds an interesting layer to the series' timeline.
Despite occasional visual hiccups and the evident challenge of actors interacting with CGI monsters, the overall experience is buoyed by the earth-shaking thrills delivered by Godzilla's on-screen presence. The series successfully navigates the delicate balance of paying homage to classic creature features while incorporating modern filmmaking techniques.
"Monarch: Legacy of Monsters" on Apple TV+ emerges as a worthy addition to the Monsterverse, providing fans with an enjoyable romp through monster-infested landscapes. Its existence is justified not only by the nostalgia it evokes but also by the genuine excitement and entertainment it brings to the ever-expanding world of colossal creatures.