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Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Tries to Play Nice With the Big Boys

2023 has been a big year for some famous names. While the echoes of the names of “Oppenheimer” andBarbie”are still dominating most of the world’s stream of consciousness, there is one famous name that is currently having the best 2023 of all…Godzilla! “Godzilla: Minus One” is currently one of the highest rated films of the year, and “Godzilla x Kong” is right around the corner. But our beloved king of monsters is out there conquering the small screen, too. The large lizard and some pals are currently busting out on Apple TV+ in “Monarch: Legacy of Monsters.” Does the new show stack up to the big screen counterparts?

In the year following Godzilla’s battle against the Mutos in San Francisco (as seen in the 2014 Hollywood reboot), people are still trying to pick up the pieces. Cate Randa (Anna Sawai) had a front row seat to the destruction. Though she was able to find her father after the battle, he ran off to continue his work. News finally came that his plane went down somewhere over Alaska. When cleaning out his belongings, a set of keys were found with some paperwork that tied them to an address in Japan. 

Monarch Legacy of monsters, pic1

Cate sets off to see what her father left in Tokyo, only to find her father had a whole other family, including a half brother Kentaro Randa (Ren Watabe). The two ultimately agree to try and figure out why their secretive father led such a strange lifestyle, only to be intertwined into something larger they never expected. How is their father ties to the government agency tied to tracking monsters and how does Lee Shaw (played by real life father and son Wyatt and Kurt Russell at different points in his life) play a part in all of this.

Sometimes big monsters fighting things doesn’t work. It may have its fans, but “Pacific Rim” failed to make the concept work. But, even though some movie goers were upset with the teases of Godzilla and his foes until the end of the 2014 outing (and crying because they killed Bryan Cranston so early on); the 2014 “Godzilla” really proved just how much of a success the franchise can still be. Both “Shin Godzilla” and the new “Godzilla: Minus One” just reinforce just how good these types of films can be. Though, all of those examples share one thing. A decent human story.

Monarch Legacy of Monsters, pic2

“Monarch: Legacy of Monsters” is hampered by an overly melodramatic and cliched storyline. The 10 episode series is a victim of the more is not better situation. While some fans were disappointed by the lack of infected and missing game battles from the adaptation of “The Last of Us,” the show thrived off a tight story that wasn’t held back by unnecessary backstory. Monarch inserts characters and stories that inflate an already convoluted plot line and dedicated full episodes to their backgrounds.

The character of May Olowe-Hewitt (Kiersey Clemons) is a completely unnecessary character that could have been removed and her skill set given to one of the half siblings. Her connection to Kentaro and their past together leads to no worthwhile conclusion or catharsis by the show’s ending and just inflates runtimes. She’s basically a Macguffin to catalyze feuding factions to needlessly switch sides so many times, your head will spin. And boy do they switch sides, a lot.

Monarch Legacy of Monsters, pic 2

Along with awkward loyalties, every character in Monarch seems to forget the good that happened right before they decide to not trust someone. The lowly Monarch employee Tim (Joe Tippett) proves he has a better understanding of every situation as the story unfolds. Up to the point where his input alone basically saves the day. That is, until having him know the answers is too much for anyone to handle, so they just stop listening to him. “Hey everyone, for the 15th time, Tim’s suspicions were right! Hooray Tim! But, you know this new problem is confusing and I don’t feel like listening to Tim. So, let’s fire him if he doesn’t listen to us.”

Not to ruin the ending of the show, we won’t mention any projects by name. But, the grand finale of this unnecessarily long story is a carbon copy of the 2nd film of a character that is part of a big screen franchise at the moment. While the plot might not be the most original, this attempt just seems like a rip-off in so many ways that it takes the term unoriginal to a new height. The brief glimpses and connection to the Godzilla and his monstrous brethren isn’t enough to save this companion piece that basks in the shadows of its superior theatrical forefathers. 

Final Grade: C-

Here’s the trailer of the series. 

Matthew Schuchman
Matthew Schuchman
In the early 90s, while at the video store with his friends who wanted to rent Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead, Matthew asked the clerk if they had any copies of Naked Lunch available. A film buff from an early age, he would turn his fascination into his own review site in 2010; Movie Review from Gene Shalit’s Moustache. From there, he provided his voice to such publications as Den of Geek, Coming Soon, and Verbicide magazine as a film reviewer and talent interviewer.


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