Monarch: Legacy of Monsters
Part of Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse, Apple TV+ series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters expands upon the kaiju-rich lore of the films by delivering a two-pronged narrative spanning decades, which centres itself around the titular organisation that was set up to study monsters like Godzilla and King Kong. Although the show puts its focus primarily on the humans instead of the Titans (also known as MUTOs), there’s still plenty of creature carnage to be had. However, uneven and sluggish pacing stops the early part of the series from hitting the same thrills as its big-screen siblings.
The primary plotline takes place a year after the events of 2014’s Godzilla as Cate (Anna Sawai) travels to Tokyo to get her thought-to-be-deceased father’s affairs in order. When she arrives at his apartment, she discovers that he had a secret second family. Teaming up with her newfound sibling (Ren Watabe), his technologically savvy ex (Kiersey Clemons) and seasoned soldier Lee Shaw (Kurt Russell), the group set out on a globe-trotting adventure to track down the siblings’ father. Running parallel to this plot is that of a younger Shaw (Wyatt Russell, Kurt’s son) and Cate’s grandmother (Mari Yamamoto) as they work to establish Monarch in the 1950s.
Both Wyatt and Kurt Russell are the standouts of their respective sections, winning viewers over with their endless charm and charisma. The other stars likewise give commendable performances in the opening hours. Sawai is another notable highlight, striking a balance between Cate’s fiery attitude and her lingering PTSD from Godzilla’s rampage in San Fransisco. Small details like evacuation points throughout Tokyo further build upon the world in interesting ways, while keeping the plot anchored in the human elements of the story.
While the script’s attention is predominately kept on the human characters, there are still plenty of monster appearances throughout the opening episodes to appease franchise fans, even if their screen time is rather brief. With monster encounters bookending the early episodes in gripping cliffhangers, viewers will be enticed to see what happens next. Unfortunately, time skips alongside excessive exposition take away from the monster action that audiences will be tuning in to see.
By building upon the Monarch mythos in meaningful ways, this Apple TV+ series is a must-watch for Godzilla fans. However, the unevenly-paced opening episodes make getting settled into this series a bumpy ride.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is released on Apple TV+ on 17th November 2023.
Watch the trailer for Monarch: Legacy of Monsters here: