Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Season 1 Review – Big budget Hollywood action on the small screen

By Adam Lock
Published: November 17, 2023 (Last updated: November 18, 2023)
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Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Season 1 Review
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Season 1 | Image via Apple TV+


This is action-packed, Hollywood-quality TV that highlights the infinite possibilities of the format. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters has the potential to be another certified hit for Apple TV+, with an intriguing mystery, plenty of charm, superb visuals, and of course living legend Kurt Russell starring in another iconic role.

There is big money to be had in rebooting classic film franchises and in establishing shared, cinematic universes these days. Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. had the bright idea of merging both of these arenas together to create the MonsterVerse, which combines the Godzilla and King Kong film series. This lucrative franchise already includes four films and an animated Netflix series. And it now adds Season 1 of Apple TV+’s Monarch: Legacy of Monsters to its lineup. This latest series hopes to explore even more of that dual, money-making lore.

The first season of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters utilizes the big budget, Hollywood grandeur of this already established film franchise to its full advantage, delivering one of the most action-packed, entertaining shows of the year. Let’s explore what this exciting new TV series has to offer in closer detail.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Season 1 review and plot summary

Created by Chris Black and Matt Fraction, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters follows on from the catastrophic events of Gareth Edwards’ 2014 feature-length franchise opener, Godzilla. In that movie, Godzilla reduced San Francisco to rubble and the mysterious Monarch organization was there to capture all of that destruction first-hand.

The show’s lead protagonist Cate Randa (Anna Sawai) was also there during that traumatic event, and she is still recovering from the emotional toll of that experience over a year later. As the series kick starts, we follow Cate to Tokyo as she investigates her father’s unique connection to Monarch and his possible death. Cate hopes to gain some closure in Japan, but she finds herself entangled in a conspiracy instead.

The Apple original series splits its time between Cate’s misadventures in 2015 and another interconnected storyline set in the 1950s. The fifties timeline follows Lieutenant Lee Shaw (Wyatt Russell) as he is tasked with escorting scientist Keiko (Mari Yamamoto) and cryptozoologist Billy Randa (Anders Holm) through the Philippines jungle in search of answers.

They of course stumble into this hidden world of gigantic monsters early on, hoping to research the origins and the behaviors of these unstoppable beasts before they cause any more havoc. It isn’t long before the military is involved though and the trio are forced to decide where their true allegiances lie.

RELATED: How does Monarch: Legacy of Monsters fit into the MonsterVerse timeline?

These two separate timelines and storylines soon merge together, with a much older Lee Shaw, played now by the iconic Kurt Russell (Wyatt Russell’s real-life father), aiding Cate and her new acquaintances on a deadly mission across the globe to find Hiroshi’s body. This is a blockbuster-sized epic after all, one that uses an array of international settings throughout its ten-episode run.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters clearly has an enormous budget to play with and it certainly makes the most of this generous offering. The SFX work is magnificent, as are the casting choices. Godzilla looks as terrifying as ever and it’s great to see Kurt Russell dominating the small screen for the first time in decades. I mean, the casting of Wyatt Russell and Kurt Russell as the same character is just an inspired choice.

The show is by no means perfect, relying on generic action tropes from time to time, and the enormity of the narrative can cause the script to meander now and then, but these are small gripes. Overall, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is an entertaining thrill ride, featuring a compelling story and spectacular visuals.

Is Monarch: Legacy of Monsters worth watching?

Those expecting to see Godzilla and Kong battling it out against a cityscape in every episode will undoubtedly be disappointed, but this series still includes a surprisingly large amount of monster mayhem and is quite CGI-heavy on the whole.

It is also worth singling out the score. Leopold Ross contributes a superb soundtrack, which bridges the gap between the two distinct timelines with an old-school collection of addictive blockbuster-sized beats. I felt compelled to watch every episode right to the very end of the credits, just to hear more of that stunning score.

Again, this is just another fine example of how the budget has been used perfectly to elevate the content in every area. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters isn’t without faults, but there is enough spectacle and many moments of cinematic magic on the screen to keep audiences thoroughly entertained throughout.

What did you think of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Season 1? Comment below.

RELATED: Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Character Guide

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