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Monarch: Legacy of Monsters review – casting Kurt Russell was utterly inspired

This small-screen jaunt into the Monsterverse features plenty of Indiana Jones-style derring-do. But nothing is as brilliantly successful as the Hollywood star’s old-school charisma Monarch: Legacy of Monsters brings to TV the kaiju, giant monsters who have rampaged across cinema screens to great financial – if not always critical – success since Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla reincarnated the most famous of them all. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has WandaVision, Jessica Jones, Loki, Ms Marvel, She-Hulk and many more, so why shouldn’t the titans of Legendary Pictures’ Monsterverse have a crack at televisual colonisation? Lo, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters was born. The 10-episode series runs along a split timeline, with a trio of young characters in each, united by a rare piece of brilliantly successful stunt casting. One strand is set in 2015, a year after Godzilla laid waste to San Francisco, which is still full of ruins and temporary housing. In it, the world is getting to grips with the fact that giant lizards are real. We meet the first of our modern-day trio, Cate (Anna Sawai of Pachinko and Giri/Haji), in Tokyo. She is a schoolteacher who was on the Golden Gate Bridge when Godzilla took against it in his final setpiece the year before. Tokyo now has decontamination processes for international visitors (in case monsters are caused by parasites), clearly marked escape routes, evacuation protocols, drills and public information films playing in the background. In addition to the beast’s historical role – as a symbol of nuclear horrors, capitalist evil, cold war paranoia and climate crisis – it now takes on the post-pandemic mantle of representing the violence that dwells in the human heart and the yearning for a convulsion to upend reality. Continue reading...

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