Monarch Legacy of Monsters Season 1 Review: Finally A Monsterverse Offering Done Right! (LatestLY Exclusive)

Monarch Legacy of Monsters Season 1 Review: Legendary Pictures hasn’t exactly excelled in creating a cinematic universe featuring Kaiju monsters, yet, following the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it stands out as the next best successful attempt to do so. From 2014’s Godzilla to 2021’s Godzilla vs Kong, each film faced its challenges, primarily centred around the perennial issue of lacklustre human storylines. However, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, the inaugural live-action series in MonsterVerse, manages to address this flaw while judiciously incorporating the monsters when necessary. Monarch – Legacy of Monsters Review: Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell’s Godzilla Spinoff is a Fun Addition to the Monsterverse.

Monarch, as you know, is that organisation whose job it is to monitor the monsters hidden across the world and presumably keep them in check, though it mostly fails at that task, leading to Godzilla and Kong saving the day (and making more mess in the process). Contrary to expectations, the 10-episode series doesn’t centre around the organisation itself but delves into its origins and its post-G-Day activities, a catastrophic event depicted in the 2014 Godzilla film.

The Two-Plot Narrative of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters follows two tracks. First is set in 2015 and follows Cate (Anna Sawai), a teacher whose father Hiroshi (Takehiro Hira) has gone missing during G-Day events, who is in Tokyo to retrieve his possessions. There, she is shocked to realise that her father had another wife and son there, who also share the same reaction to her existence. Cate and her newly-discovered half-brother Kentaro (Ren Watabe) reluctantly team up when they realise Hiroshi has been working for Monarch and he was chasing something mysterious before disappearing. May (Kiersey Clemons), a hacker with a shady past who once used to date Kentaro, also ends up with them as they seek Lee Shaw (Kurt Russell), a former US colonel with connections to their father, while their efforts catch the attention of Monarch.

A Still From Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

The second track is set years earlier and portrays the beginnings of Monarch through the efforts of a younger Lee Shaw (Wyatt Russell), Japanese scientist Keiko (Mari Yamamoto, easily the best find of the show), and cryptozoologist Bill Randa (Anders Holm).

Watch the Trailer of Monarch – Legacy of Monsters:

Humans Don’t Suck This Time!

The series intertwines these tracks with underlying mysteries, some unrelated to the monsters, creating a dynamic and engaging storyline. Even a supposed plot-hole about the confusing age of a character gets a fascinating update later on. I really loved the period track involving Shaw, Keiko and Bill – though it is hard to believe it’s the same amiable Bill that we have seen in Kong: Skull Island where the character was shown to be opportunistic (John Goodman also makes a cameo here in an additional shot scene set on Skull Island). The chemistry is incredible between the trio, and I wish the show was all about them and their fascination with seeing the monsters and their desperation in trying to make their stubborn superiors see reason. Even the love triangle is nicely handled with good (but tragic) payoffs.

A Still From Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

Not that the other track is bad. The increasing bonding between the step-siblings and the friend they dragged in has its moments, and once Shaw enters the equation, both the storyline and the continent-traversing action become compelling. At one point, though, I felt the writers didn’t exactly know what to do with Kentaro, while diverting all attention to making Cate and May suddenly thick friends (Kentaro is inexplicably impervious and slower to react whenever his ex is in trouble). The performances of the entire cast are great, and the stunt casting of Kurt and Wyatt Russell for the same role was a nice touch.

The workings of Monarch add thrills and mystery to the action but its ambiguous nature at times felt very annoying; we just can’t determine if they are trustworthy or not. I also keep wondering where the other characters from the movies associated with Monarch are. Wasn’t Dr Ishirō Serizawa supposed to be alive during the events of the series?

But Monsters Still Rule…

While monsters make intermittent appearances, including the show-stealing Godzilla, they don’t overshadow the human plotlines, and for a refreshing change, that isn’t bad this time around. Unlike Godzilla vs Kong‘s gallery-pleasing monster action, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters strikes a balance, ensuring the kaiju complement rather than dominate the narrative. And when the monsters do make their appearances, they make for memorable moments, like when the US Army uses nuke heads on Godzilla at Bikini Atoll as part of their Castle Bravo tests or when Cate and gang are attacked by a Frost Vark in Alaska. Notably, the visual quality remains uncompromised on the streaming platform, showcasing meticulous monster design and impressive VFX. Godzilla x Kong Trailer: Legendary Monsters Team Up to Battle Colossal Threat in ‘The New Empire’.

A Still From Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

Despite occasional pacing issues in the middle episodes, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters compensates with an exhilarating final stretch. The series introduces exciting twists, including a journey into Hollow Earth, a poignant farewell, more monster action, and a thrilling cameo, leaving viewers eagerly anticipating another season.

Final Thoughts on Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

As the first live-action series in this cinematic universe, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters emerges as the best to come out of the Monsterverse. Featuring a compelling storyline and introducing well-developed human characters that evoke genuine care, the series not only transcends the traditional trappings of monster movies but also provides an immersive and well-balanced experience for fans of the genre. The complete first season of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is currently available for streaming on Apple TV+.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jan 19, 2024 11:50 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).

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