Apple TV+ 10 episode Monsterverse series delves into the origins of Monarch, earliest Titan sightings on earth and more
Story: In the 1950s, two scientists, Dr Keiko Miura (Mari Yamamoto) and William Randa (Anders Holm) track and discover the presence of Titans on earth, leading to the formation of a military-led scientific organisation called Monarch. Colonel Leland Shaw (Wyatt Russell) is assigned to protecting these Monarch assets and collating data on Titan sightings. On one expedition in Kazhakstan, the trio stumble upon what appears to be the nesting ground of an insectoid and end up losing Keiko into the depths of the nest as she attempts to collect a study sample.
In 2014, shortly after Godzilla levelled San Francisco, a school teacher called Cate Randa (Anna Sawai), heads to Japan to figure out why her believed-to-be-deceased father had an apartment there. Turns out, he had another family there and a son, Kentaro (Ren Watanabe), and the duo begin looking into what their father was really up to. Hiroshi Randa, their father, is also a Monarch asset, but on a rogue mission.
Monarch Legacy of Monsters review: A series by Legendary Pictures, the studio behind the Godzilla and King Kong movies, called Legacy of Monsters was bound to get anyone even remotely invested in the Monsterverse excited. There’s no way to do this without some serious Kaiju action. Well, apparently you can, by keeping all the drama around the humans in the tale. The story was, therefore, split across generations and two main timelines – the early days of Monarch with Dr Miura, Bill and Col Shaw in the 50s and another set shortly after G-Day (the day Godzilla surfaced in 2014). On the one hand, there’s a trio figuring out the Titans (and man’s ability to defend himself against them), and on the other, a pair of half siblings decoding what their family’s role is in all of this.
In the 10 episodes of Monarch Legacy of Monsters, audiences got a sum total of 5 Titans – Ion Dragon, Frost Vark, Endoswarm, Brambleboar and, of course, the King of Monsters, Godzilla - a fleeting glance or two lasting a few seconds. “Where are the monsters?” was a query one often saw on social media, a thought that occurred to me too, but then I had to remind myself that this was a show for TV, and there’s no way the showrunners would have had the luxury of the budgets that, say, a Godzilla or King Kong movie gets. Within these limitations, they did a decent job, introducing new Titans and doing so with great visual effects. It is only in the final episode that fans got what they’d been asking for – a Kaiju fight – and the showrunners delivered one, with Godzilla tearing the Ion Dragon apart in what is among the show’s best scenes. That shot of Godzilla emerging from the portal into Hollow Earth should keep hardcore fans satiated for a while until Godzillla x Kong: The New Empire drops later this year.
The 1950s storyline of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is, undoubtedly, the more interesting bit, as Keiko, Bill and Lee understand Godzilla’s role in the whole scheme of things. In comparison, the Randa siblings’ drama and the mystery behind Kentaro’s ex-girlfriend May (Kiersey Clemons), who is also tagging along, pales, and it is only when an older version of Col Shaw, played by Wyatt’s father, veteran actor Kurt Russell, that the action gets a tad exciting. Shaw has seen enough in his lifetime, having lost both of his close friends – Keiko and Bill – while Monarch sat around and did what it does best, keep a close watch and do nothing. That’s not something he could afford to let continue, and armed with support from Monarch employees who’d also had enough of the organisation’s lack of will to do something about the Kaiju problem, he begins a mission to close the portals spread across the globe that the Titans use to slither in and out of Hollow Earth.
Interestingly, in the 6 decade-long time-frame of the show, it is Godzilla who unleashes the most damage on humankind in 2014. He was around in the 50s too, doing no one any harm; the Ion Dragon almost went completely unnoticed all this while. Ok, he sank the USS Lawton, but besides that, he seemed to be minding his own business. Even the Frost Vark was only feeding off heat and, well, its few human casualties were warm bodied. If the humans hadn’t gone poking around, perhaps, they’d been none the wiser about Titans and vice versa. But then, that’s the whole point of the movies and the series.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Season 1 ended with a glorious shot of King Kong in Skull Island, sometime in 2017, which ties in perfectly with the timeline of the film. At the time of the movie, though, Bill Randa, played by John Goodman in the older version, was still alive but is eventually eaten by a skullcrawler. His appearance on Legacy of Monsters will need to be explained and it remains to be seen whether the showrunners place Season 2 before the events of Kong: Skull Island or thereafter. A second season is yet to be greenlit, but we have no doubt that it will happen soon.
Monarch Legacy of Monsters verdict: For the most part, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is quite engaging. Yes, there’s not enough Kaiju action in terms of actual screen time allocated to them, but that last episode sort of made up for it. The show would do well with eliminating romance and other emotional drama between the lead actors, if and when a second season takes off. All episodes of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters are now streaming on Apple TV+