Friday, January 12, 2024

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, Season Finale

When it launched in November, Apple’s Monsterverse series could feel confident it compared favorably with Legendary’s most recent, underwhelming film, Godzilla vs. Kong. However, the stakes suddenly started rising when Godzilla Minus One became a surprise breakout hit, largely redefining the entire kaiju genre for millions of Americans. Today, loyal viewers learn whether their investment on Monarch: Legacy of Monsters concludes its first season when “Beyond Logic” premieres today on Apple TV+.

During the mayhem of episode six, Cate Randa was sucked into an in-between Monsterverse dimension along with Lee Shaw. That would be the older, Kurt Russell Lee Shaw, not the younger Lee Shaw played by Wyatt Russell in flashbacks. It turns out there is a reason why Shaw looks so spry for a nonagenarian. Time runs much slower in the realm of monsters, so several decades passed in our world while Shaw was lost in the monster-realm.

Shaw wants to limit the time Randa and her friend May will lose in the in-between dimension. However, they need to attract a titan to open the portal. That they do—a little too successfully.

Episode nine is probably the slowest installment of the season, because it is built around the series’ angstiest and least action-oriented flashbacks. However, the conclusion obviously was deliberately intended to deliver everything fans were hoping for. There is a big climatic battle of the “titans,” featuring the granddaddy of them all and what looks like a name-brand kaiju who also co-starred in Legendary’s
Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It also features a truly massive monster cameo.

In terms of spectacle and special effects, “Beyond Logic” is definitely the biggest and best of the series. There is also some smart speculative drama driven by the vastly slower passage of time in the monster portal zone. In fact, this episode covers emotional ground that is somewhat akin to Christopher Nolan’s
Interstellar and Hubbard’s novel To the Stars (written while he was still taken seriously by sf writers).

This is a great showcase episode for Kurt Russell, but the big guys overshadow just about everyone else. However, Joe Tippett continues to build Tim, the renegade Monarch analyst, into a fan favorite character. Both
Godzilla Minus One and Shin Godzilla are deeper, more rewarding kaiju productions, but Monarch: Legacy of Monsters outshines Legendary’s English-language features. Still recommended for kaiju and Russell-family fans, “Beyond Logic” starts streaming today (1/12) on Apple TV+.