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Tom Green
Johnny Harris, Sam Keeley, Joe Dempsie, Kyle Soller, Nicholas Pinnock, Parker Sawyers
Writing Credits:
Tom Green and Jay Basu

Ten years on from the events of Monsters, and the 'Infected Zones' have now spread worldwide. In the Middle East a new insurgency has begun. At the same time there has also been a proliferation of Monsters in that region. The Army decide to draft in more numbers to help deal with this insurgency.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 119 min.
Price: $26.99
Release Date: 6/2/2015

• “On the Set of Monsters: Dark Continent” Featurette
• Previews and Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Monsters: Dark Continent [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 3, 2015)

With a worldwide gross of barely $4 million, 2010’s Monsters didn’t exactly set box offices on fire. However, it received positive reviews and had enough buzz to hurtle director Gareth Edwards to the big leagues: he went from the super-low-budget Monsters to 2014’s “summer tentpole” flick Godzilla.

Monsters also mustered enough of an audience to support a sequel via 2015’s Monsters: Dark Continent. In the first film, we learned that aliens had landed on Earth but had been “quarantined” into locations in northern Mexico.

Set 10 years after the prior movie, Dark Continent reveals that these “infected zones” have now spread elsewhere in the world, and we head to the Middle East. The air strikes used to combat the monsters also incite an insurrection in the local population, so that forces military operatives to battle both aliens and human rebels as well.

We meet Private Michael Parkes (Sam Keeley), a Detroit native who heads to fight along with his pals Private Sean Williams (Parker Sawyers) and Private Frankie Maguire (Joe Dempsie). Led by Staff Sgt. Noah Frater (Johnny Harris), we follow their experiences as they deal with threats from both the monsters and the natives

Because I didn’t get a review copy, I never reviewed Monsters, but I did watch it a couple of years back. I went into it with high hopes but found it to offer a disappointment.

Like many movies in the “found footage” genre such as Paranormal Activity, it felt like Monsters offered lots of footage of nothing. We’d follow characters who meandered around without much purpose and barely spent time with the titular creatures.

Dark Continent abandons the “found footage” format for a more traditional approach – albeit one heavy in “shakycam”. Of all modern movie-making clichés, the overuse of handheld camerawork bugs me the most. Rather than give the tale “immediacy”, these cinematographic choices tend to simply come across as laziness, as though none involved could be bothered to frame the shots.

Shakycam becomes only one of the filmmaking problems evident in Dark Continent, an effort replete with flaws. Arguably my biggest complaints relate to our main characters, as the movie makes them both simplistic and unlikable. The tale presents the guys as macho stereotypes who party when they can and talk about what studs they are the rest of the time. I guess we’re supposed to care about them because of the “band of brothers” concept, but I felt nothing for any of the soldiers, as the movie failed to create an emotional attachment toward them.

With its “soldiers who battle monsters” motif, Dark Continent seems destined to evoke memories of 1986’s Aliens - or that might be the case if the flick actually featured many of the titular space monkeys. A screening of Dark Continent reminds me of a line from Jurassic Park: “Eventually you do plan to have dinosaurs on your dinosaur tour, right?”

Vast swaths of the film pass with nary a shot of monsters on display. Of course, I said the same about the original Monsters, but since that choice seemed like a problem there, matters don’t improve in Dark Continent.

Though at least I can’t accuse Dark Continent of its predecessor’s lack of action. While Monsters often seemed like nothing more than a travelogue, Dark Continent throws all sorts of combat at us. Hardly any of it involves actual monters, of course, but at least we’re not left with characters who do little more than ride buses and boats.

So Dark Continent offers much more of a traditional war movie than a sci-fi “man vs. aliens” flick, and I’d be fine with that if it offered a good traditional war movie. Unfortunately, Dark Continent brings nothing new or exciting or intriguing to the genre.

Not that it lacks potential. Dark Continent could’ve used the primary combat of soldiers vs. monsters as a metaphor to explore how ancillary damage affects civilians, and that could’ve made it a thoughtful expansion of its genre.

Instead, it relies on a litany of clichés. As already noted, the characters seem simplistic and predictable, and the narrative situations offer no added involvement of their own. This ends up as a tedious, tiresome film that misuses its premise.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus D

Monsters: Dark Continent appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The visuals seemed well-presented.

For the most part, sharpness worked fine. Given the (over)use of “documentary-style” camerawork, occasional instances of iffy focus occurred, but those became inevitable. The majority of the film offered nice clarity and accuracy. I saw no shimmering or jagged edges, and the movie lacked edge haloes or print flaws.

Since most of the film took place in the Middle East, the requisite desaturated sandy palette dominated. The film also threw in some blue/green shots, but a cool amber feel carried much of the tale. This wasn’t a creative choice, but the colors seemed fine. Blacks appeared dark and tight, and shadows showed nice clarity. Overall, I thought this became a satisfying image.

With the level of bombast expected from a movie with many scenes of combat, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack used the various speakers well. Obviously, battles proved the most involving, as they engulfed the viewer with the sounds of the setting. That side of things worked best, but other sequences also seemed quite good; even quieter sections placed the viewer in the action and consistently satisfied. Surround usage was pleasing throughout the film, as the back speakers bolstered the various settings well.

Audio quality was also good. Speech appeared natural, and the lines never demonstrated intelligibility problems. Music was quite dynamic and lively, as the score showed excellent range and delineation. Effects were also bright and bold, with nice low-end to boot. Across the board, this was an excellent track that deserved a solid “A-”.

In terms of extras, we find On the Set of Monsters: Dark Continent. It runs a mere two minutes, 51 seconds as it offers footage from the shoot along with a few comments from director Tom Green and actor Sam Keeley. “Set” is way too short to deliver much substance, but it gives us a few decent thoughts.

The disc opens with ads for It Follows and Horns. We also find the teaser for Dark Continent.

If one expects an exciting “man vs. alien” action flick from Monsters: Dark Continent, one will encounter disappointment. Instead, the movie offers a muddled, misbegotten war movie that leaves no cliché unturned. The Blu-ray presents solid picture and audio but lacks notable supplements. Maybe someone else will find something worthwhile in this mess, but I can’t.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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