REVIEW: Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

The latest explosion of Godzilla stories has brought us Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, a story spins off from director Gareth Edwards’ (The Creator, Rogue One, Monsters) brilliant Godzilla film that takes the focus away from the mighty monster and his fearsome titans and follows the impact these terrifying beasts have on the humans around them from their first discovery to the present day. Now, I haven’t watched any Godzilla media thinking that I want less monsters and more humans, but this Apple show managed to keep me engaged for the whole of its 10-episode run.

Monarch: Legacy of MonstersMonarch: Legacy of Monsters jumps back and forth in time (and with good reason). In the present day, Cate flies from San Fransico to Tokyo following Godzilla’s attack to settle her presumed dead father’s affairs. She finds more than she bargained for when she meets her half-brother Kentaro and discovers that her father Hiroshi not only hid another family from her and her mother, but also was part of a secretive organisation named Monarch. The story flashes back to the 1950s with Lieutenant Shaw (played by both Wyatt Russell and his father Kurt Russell) supporting scientists Dr. Keiko Mira and Dr. Bill Randa, as they uncover evidence of the massive kaiju. The series jumps between timelines effortlessly aided by the excellent cast as we follow the young Shaw and the scientists and witness their efforts to examine new creatures whilst fighting against a government who just want them destroyed, and the modern day where young Cate and Kentaro find and older Shaw and attempt to see if their father is still alive whilst evading government lackies.

A fair few people disliked Gareth Edwards approach to Godzilla and the way he kept the kaiju as a mysterious but terrifying figure until the very end of the film and Monarch: Legacy of Monsters follows this similar approach. There is a reverence to Japan’s favourite monster and in the scenes where it appears, it is terrifying and truly shows the impact that its attack had on the world and the survivors. It deals with the trauma of living through such an attack and the measures the world took to ensure that they were ready in case such a thing was to happen again and this original insight into the monsterverse is welcome, if not as entirely thrilling as seeing the monsters in every episode. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters may not be for everyone but it feels like a solid piece of tapestry at a time when Godzilla media is everyone. If you want the best pure Godzilla film right now, then you have Godzilla Minus One, for a popcorn fighting fest with monsters taking on monsters, you have the upcoming Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, and for the more intimate human-based story, here is Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. There’s something for everyone and that can’t be a bad thing.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is an interesting time jumping tale about family and legacy that can be felt from major moments in one’s life that pass on through generations. It has more heart and quiet moments than most would expect from a story spinning off from a movie like Godzilla but that is what makes it stand out from the crowd of monster media right now. It is an ambitious series that spends its time in the shadow of the massive kaiju with a great cast that earns its monster moments. Not just for the hardcore fans. This is a series that would never have existed outside of the streaming landscape, and I’m all here for it.

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Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones

Aaron S. Jones is the author of Memories of Blood and Shadow, and The Broken Gods trilogy. He is Head of School at a school in Kent, UK and when he is not tearing his hair out at students struggling with their, they're and there, he is tearing his hair out as he dies for the thousandth time on Elden Ring. You can find him on Twitter @HereticASjones where he is most likely procrastinating for hours at a time instead of focusing on his Orc murder mystery.