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Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters Review - A Fresh Take On The Monsterverse's Human Side

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters defies the typical monster movie formula, offering a fresh perspective on the human side of Legendary's 'Monsterverse' franchise. In this sprawling series, creators Chris Black and Matt Fraction weave a complex narrative that spans generations and timelines, focusing on the lives shaped by encounters with iconic creatures like Godzilla and King Kong.

The 10-episode season introduces characters, both new and familiar, in a globetrotting, time-traversing family saga that captivates with its chronologically expansive mystery-adventure. 

Source: Google Images
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters premieres Friday, November 17 on Apple TV+. New episodes debut weekly on Fridays.


"Monarch: Legacy of Monsters" introduces a refreshing take within Legendary Pictures' MonsterVerse. The series deviates from its big-screen counterparts by embracing a straightforward, earthbound story reminiscent of adventure films from the mid-70s to mid-90s. The plot unfolds across two parallel timelines, providing visual variety but occasionally sacrificing character development.

Cast Performance:

Kurt Russell, making his return to scripted TV after 40 years, plays Lee Shaw, an Army officer associated with the monster-hunting organization Monarch. Russell's son, Wyatt, shares the role, adding a unique and compelling dynamic to the series. The cast delivers strong performances, with Mari Yamamoto standing out in the flashback scenes, injecting a flinty-sexy charisma.

Visual Effects:

The series impresses with its visual effects, effectively utilizing them to enhance the storytelling. Flashback scenes, shot with a retro Hollywood glow, benefit greatly from the effects, contributing to the show's nostalgic charm. The monsters, though occasionally sparingly used, make a significant impact when they appear, showcasing the series' commitment to delivering impressive creature designs.

Character Development:

While the series succeeds in characterizing figures from Monarch's past, the modern storyline featuring half-siblings Cate and Kentaro faces challenges. The young characters, including hacker May, tend to remain on the same emotional notes for extended periods, lacking the wit and humor provided by Kurt Russell's character. The series struggles to strike a consistent balance in character development, especially in the context of the MonsterVerse's thematic complexities.

Nostalgic Charm:

"Monarch" successfully invokes a nostalgic charm reminiscent of classic adventure filmmaking. The creators, Chris Black and Matt Fraction, aim for a more innocent era, and the series occasionally references films like "Goonies," capturing the spirit of mid-70s to mid-90s adventures.

Monster Sequences:

The show's highlight lies in its monster sequences, offering classic movie-matinee moves. The monsters, though not always prominent, leave a lasting impression when they appear. The series manages to balance suspense across its episodes, keeping audiences engaged through well-executed monster-attack sequences.

Thematic Balancing:

The MonsterVerse's thematic complexities, involving corporations, governments, and monsters, pose a challenge for the series. Balancing these contradictions in a way that consistently satisfies narrative and emotional senses proves demanding, possibly due to the need to maintain suspense across ten episodes. The series occasionally struggles to reconcile these thematic elements.

Critic Reviews:

Critic Reviews Source: Rotten Tomatoes
  • Matthew Simpson from That Shelf: Between the performances, the monsters, and the writing, Apple has another hit on their hands for fans and non-fans of the Monsterverse alike.
  • Alan French from Sunshine State Cineplex: With fun characters, cool visuals, and actual commentary, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters far exceeds expectations. Black and Faction found something special with this show.
  • Martin Carr from This melodramatic action adventure featuring Kurt Russell and his son Wyatt takes its time gaining momentum, and jumps around like a jack-in-the-box moving from continent to continent. Thankfully, this father and son duo make it all worthwhile.
  • Craig Mathieson from Sydney Morning Herald: While this spin-off series has to accommodate a recent blockbuster revival of Godzilla Movies, it does a good job of establishing its own identity.
  • Rohan Naahar from The Indian Express: A multigenerational family saga masquerading as a globe-trotting adventure, the sprawling show has more in common with Apple’s own epic drama Pachinko than with the action-packing MonsterVerse series of films.
In summary, "Monarch: Legacy of Monsters" excels in delivering visual spectacle, engaging cast performances, and nostalgic charm, with occasional challenges in character development and thematic balancing within the MonsterVerse.
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