Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Episode 2 review – Kurt Russell makes his monster debut
Godzilla spinoff series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Episode 2 is now streaming, and if you thought the first installment jumped around in time too frequently, this continuation is even more erratic.
The first episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters – titled ‘Aftermath’ and reviewed here – pinballed around in time. So plots played out in multiple decades as we learned the back story of shady organisation Monarch, and it’s involvement with titans that clash.
But the main storyline focussed on Lee (Wyatt Russell), Keiko (Mari Yamamoto), and Bill (Anders Holm) investigating MUTOs in the 1950s. While Cate (Anna Sawai) and Kentaro (Ren Watabe) discover that they have the same father, so investigate his life – and connection to Monarch – in 2015.
The time-jumps were liable to give you whiplash at times, but big storylines were clearly being set-up, some of which paid off in monstrous fashion at the end of the episode. Leading into Episode 2, which is titled ‘Departures.’
The origins of Monarch
Rather than making those time-jumps ourselves, we’ll split the narratives, kicking in the 1950s, where soldier Lee Shaw is being reprimanded for fighting bullies in the US army. Then charged with the task of protecting and observing a Japanese scientist.
He meets Keiko on a Manila dock, and thinks she can’t possibly be a doctor due to her not being a man. Which Keiko initially runs with, nicely kicking off their fun back-and forth. Then in the jungle they bump into Bill, a cryptozoologist, who is somewhat dramatically “hunting for the truth.”
Keiko and Bill immediately bond over local stories of giant, fire-breathing dragons – which makes sense as the pair ultimately marry. They send hot-head Shaw, before stumbling upon a giant ship. And it quickly becomes clear that Bill has a connection to the people – and objects – onboard.
Which is all good-and-well, but slightly lacking in dramatic tension. That changes as they search the boat however, as there’s organic matter on the walls, and sailors cocooned in the same material. Before they can leave, a giant claw appears, as does Lee Shaw, who endeavours to rescue them before they fall into the clutches of what looks like… a giant dragon.
The reappearance of an old friend
These scenes are intercut with Cate and Kentaro flipping between argument and collaboration as they try to make sense of who their father was, what he did, and how they now relate to him.
Cate runs into trouble in the shape of “Tim” from Monarch, who tails her, kidnaps her, and demands to see the files she’s found. But she manages to escape, and those files lead Cate, Kentaro, and elite hacker May to a nursing home where Lee Shaw is imprisoned.
And this scene gives us a first look at one of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ major hooks, with Kurt Russell playing the older version of the character played by his real-life son, Wyatt. And it’s a blast seeing the bits of business both actors employ to make a connection between the two Lees.
Similarly, we’ve seen young Shaw act like a maverick in the 1950s, and here we see old Shaw do the same, cutting off the security tag on his ankle, and forcing his new friends on the run…
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Episode 2 score: 3/5
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters still feels like it’s treading water during Episode 2, re-introducing characters that the audience met in Episode 1. And setting up even more mysteries that will hopefully payoff as proceedings progress.
But – Godzilla and the rest of the MUTOs aside – Kurt Russell is the major name in the ensemble, so it’s a relief that he’s finally joined the action. As we’re very ready to watch one of cinema’s most charismatic leads do battle with a bunch of massive monsters.