Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, the latest venture into the Monsterverse on the small screen, brings kaiju chaos to television audiences. The show, with its split timeline and a blend of past and present narratives, attempts to capitalize on the success of cinematic monster mayhem. While it doesn’t shy away from incorporating elements reminiscent of Indiana Jones-style adventures, the true standout is the casting choice of Hollywood legend Kurt Russell, whose old-school charisma injects vitality into the series.
The 10-episode journey unfolds across two timelines. In the 2015 strand, post-Godzilla San Francisco is still grappling with the aftermath, and viewers follow the story of Cate (Anna Sawai), a schoolteacher in Tokyo. Unraveling family secrets and delving into her late father’s mysterious ties to the enigmatic organization Monarch, Cate, along with her half-brother Kentaro (Ren Watabe) and tech-savvy ally May, embarks on a compelling investigation.
Meanwhile, the 1950s timeline introduces army lieutenant Lee Shaw (Wyatt Russell), alongside cryptozoologists Keiko (Mari Yamamoto) and Bill Randa (Anders Holm), as they pioneer the formation of Monarch. This period offers an engaging blend of Indiana Jones-style escapades, unrequited love, and the discovery of a monstrous nursery filled with glowing eggs.
However, the series falters in the present-day narrative. Despite attempting to prioritize human characters over the monstrous spectacle, the characters lack the depth needed to compensate for the limited kaiju action. Enter Kurt Russell, playing the present-day Lieutenant Shaw, whose timeless movie star charisma breathes life into the contemporary scenes. Russell Sr.’s presence injects much-needed energy into the story, despite lingering questions about the overall coherence and pacing of the narrative.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters struggles to strike the right balance between human drama and kaiju spectacle. While the past timeline provides excitement and intrigue, the present falls short. Nevertheless, Kurt Russell’s performance stands out as a testament to the enduring power of old-school charisma in the face of a monster-filled narrative that, at times, struggles to find its footing.