In Apple’s ambitious new series, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, the Godzilla franchise takes a narrative turn, favoring a multigenerational family saga over the typical monster mayhem associated with the MonsterVerse films. The show, distinct from its action-packed predecessors, shares more similarities with Apple’s epic drama Pachinko than with Godzilla’s cinematic universe.
Set in the aftermath of Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla movie, Monarch explores a world dealing with the consequences of a colossal showdown between Godzilla and deep-sea creatures in San Francisco. The remnants of the decimated city are sealed off, and global governments implement measures to protect against potential monster attacks. Amidst the tension, the series follows Cate Randa, a young school teacher, investigating her father’s mysterious disappearance in Japan. Notably, Cate is the granddaughter of Bill Randa, portrayed by John Goodman in Kong: Skull Island.
The narrative weaves between two timelines, featuring a young Bill Randa (Anders Holm) in the 1950s and the present-day sequences with an older Bill (Kurt Russell) joining Cate on a quest to uncover her father’s ties to Monarch. The story blends conspiracy thriller elements with genuine family drama, exploring relationships, secrets, and the characters’ connections to the enigmatic Monarch organization.
While the series introduces occasional monster cameos, the focus remains on the intricate family dynamics. The flashback sequences delve into the ’50s drama involving Cate and Ken’s grandmother, Keiko, forming a compelling love triangle with Bill and the swashbuckling Lee Shaw, portrayed by Wyatt Russell and Kurt Russell in the respective timelines.
Monarch stands out as a production that goes beyond typical television aesthetics. Shot on location in various settings, from cityscapes to snowy mountains and deserts, the series captures an atmospheric and human-level perspective on large-scale drama. This departure from conventional studio setups aligns with the show’s sprawling narrative and distinguishes it from contemporary productions.
In a landscape dominated by CGI-heavy productions, Monarch’s commitment to on-location filming enhances its immersive storytelling, providing a visually striking experience for viewers. The series balances family drama, government intrigue, and monster encounters, offering a fresh perspective on the Godzilla universe.