Typically, mega-monster plots demolish buildings and people rather quickly; however, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters takes more of a slow-build approach to the genre. It creates an immersive reality where monsters are a real, known threat and pairs it with a conspiracy led by a global organization known as Monarch that is somehow behind all the mayhem.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is an Apple TV+ original series focusing on a trio whose worlds collide after G-Day, the day Godzilla devastates San Francisco in 2014’s Godzilla. The not-so-chance encounter spurs into motion a deep investigation spanning generations as two siblings search for clues left behind, cultivating a decades-long conspiracy that changed the course of humanity.
This likely isn’t the Godzilla show you were likely expecting. Instead, audiences are treated to a dark underworld of secrets, radiation, covert operations, and the birth of a new type of horror as the world holds its breath on the brink of nuclear obliteration during the Cold War and instead faces an entirely new threat.
The film ties in some of the aesthetics of the original films by showing old footage, capturing some of the raw appeal of the classics, and showcasing an array of monsters based on Legendary’s MonsterVerse. The monsters, though often shown in brief glimpses, are eerily detailed and venture off from Godzilla to more twisted Titans, each one grotesquely unique. Though I have to admit, there are a few times when Godzilla looked more adorable than fearsome.
The ten-episode drama spans half a century with top-notch visual effects that balance the darker scenes, so audiences don’t miss a beat. The cinematography is crisp and detailed, ranging from nuclear explosions on sunny beaches to ice pits harboring a heat-hungry Titan in Alaska.
Throughout the series, we see flashes of G-Day from Cate’s perspective as she relives the attack again and again. Anna Sawai does a convincing job of portraying a mass casualty survivor and an even better job at playing off Ren Watabe as estranged siblings. Rounding out the group is audio expert May, played by Kiersey Clemons and Kurt Russell as former Monarch agent Lee Shaw, who adds some lighthearted flare.
Wyatt Russell, Mari Yamamoto, Anders Holm, Joe Tippett, and Elisa Lasowski round out the cast. Chris Black and Matt Fraction co-developed and executive-produced the Apple TV+ exclusive series.
The first two episodes debut on Apple TV+ on Friday, November 17, and will air once a week through January 12. A special screening of the first episode is playing today at the New York Comic Con for those who love mysteries as much as monsters. If you’re looking for a new series that’s more of a mystery than a monster feature, this is definitely one to check out.