Monday, November 20, 2023

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters - Aftermath / Departure

Set in the MonsterVerse, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters offers two separate storylines set decades apart but tied together through both family and the secret monster organization Monarch. The main storyline is set in 2015, one year after the events of Godzilla where Cate Randa (Anna Sawai) travels from the reclamation camps of San Francisco to Japan following her father's (Takehiro Hira) presumed death. Looking into an apartment her father kept in Tokyo, Cate will begin pulling on a thread that will lead to several discoveries about her father she isn't ready for starting with the second wife (Qyoko Kudo) and son Kentaro (Ren Watabe) neither Cate nor her mother (Tamlyn Tomita) knew existed.

After the discovery of each other, the half-siblings begin looking for answers but only find more questions with the discovery of encrypted decades-old redacted documents for an organization neither of them has ever heard of which Kentaro's hacker friend (Kiersey Clemons) unlocks alerting Monarch to their investigation. Set decades before in the 1950s is a parallel storyline featuring the pair's grandmother (Tamlyn Tomita), a fellow scientist (Anders Holm), and a soldier (Wyatt Russell) who make up the first backbone of Monarch and their struggles with proving their unusual theories to the United States Government and finding the monsters they have dubbed as Titans.

The split between the two storylines feels the most awkward in the first episode, at first apparently only marginally related, but as events move closer together the the earlier storyline will dovetail into the story unfolding in 2015 with the introduction of an older version of Lee (Kurt Russell) still alive and kicking and full of answers about Monarch for our three investigators. Nearly all the core characters of the series are presented here including Joe Tippett as a Monarch scientist headed to Tokyo to retrieve the papers from Cate. Their interaction will only throw Cate, Kentaro, and the hacker friend May further into a search to find answers about who their father was and why he really died.

The series is very much monster-adjacent rather than monster-focused. There are numerous references to the fight between Godzilla and the MUTOs in San Francisco, which still haunt Cate, and we will get some lesser monsters here and there including what our trio find in the past. However, the focus of the series is on the mystery of the missing scientist who had two separate personal lives, and a secret professional one, he seemed to have kept from everyone he ever loved with the 50s storyline filling in some of the history of Monarch and also lay out motivations for what is to come. The story which will unfold over the season is easily the best one the MonsterVerse has produced with the human characters far more interesting, and integral to the story, than what we've seen in the monster movies so far.

New Zealand actress Anna Sawai is perfect for the role of Cate who will run through the gamut of emotions searching for answers. Mostly known for smaller roles in films such as F9 and Ninja Assassin, and her stint as one of the vocalists of the girl group Faky, as well as TV roles in Giri/Haji and Pachinko, she's obviously the breakout star of the series who I hope to see much more of going forward. The series also makes great use of the strong resemblance of Wyatt Russell to his father, casting both in the same role with Lee being the key character to tie the two storylines together.

  • Title: Monarch: Legacy of Monsters - Aftermath / Departure
  • IMDb: link | link

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