Apple TV+ returned to the spotlight with a 2023 Godzilla series, and critics shared their reactions to what they’ve seen so far.
Running under the title Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, the beast of all beasts comes back into mainstream media in the latest addition to the MonsterVerse franchise that kicked off with 2014’s Godzilla.
Starring a real-world father/son duo in Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell along with Kiersey Clemons, this series follows up on the attacks that decimated San Francisco in a story that spans three generations of monster-hunting and its secrets.
Critics Share Reactions to Godzilla Apple TV+ Show
Critics shared their reviews and reactions for the new Godzilla series from Apple TV+, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, ahead of its debut on November 17.
The show, which currently sits at a 93% critic approval rating after 14 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, is getting praised for its performances (particularly Kurt Russell's) and character work amid the monster madness.
The Verge reflected on how Godzilla projects have “struggled to make their human characters…compelling,” praising Legacy of Monsters for giving them “enough time and space to become genuinely interesting figures:”
“Western ‘Godzilla’-related projects have often struggled to make their human characters feel like compelling, integral pieces to their stories rather than distractions from the action that studios know audiences show up to see…Because ‘Legacy of Monsters’ is a series, though, its human characters have enough time and space to become genuinely interesting figures whose connections to the MUTOs and to one another you actually want to understand — especially as the show begins to jump through time.”
Medium enjoyed the pacing of the first episode and shared that it has a great balance of “monsters, action scenes, and character development,” but the review also explained that the monsters are pushed to the background later on:
“‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ starts with a bang but loses steam as the series continues. I loved the pilot episode. The pacing is fantastic, with just the right balance of monsters, action scenes, and character development, with an impressive cliffhanger that made me want to tune into the next episode. But as the series continues, the relationship stories take over, and the audience is disconnected from the monsters.
ComicBook.com described the 2023 series as “a human drama through and through,” commenting on how the characters all “[fold] into the MonsterVerse with ease:”
“While ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ does have some thrilling titan fights, the show doesn't present itself as a kaiju free-for-all. This sci-fi series is a human drama through and through. Split between grief and uncertainty, each character in ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ folds into the MonsterVerse with ease.”
Empire Magazine lamented the fact that Godzilla was relegated to the small screen but also gave the series credit for making fans “care for the people behind the monster madness:”
“Godzilla is no stranger to telly, of course…but it still feels a shame, in some strange way, that such icons of big-screen entertainment should be relegated to the living room; Godzilla seems made to be seen in CinemaScope, or near as dammit. But one thing long-form television has over cinema is a deeper look at characters, and ‘Legacy Of Monsters’’ mission is clearly to make you care for the people behind the monster madness.”
Collider described a “whole lot of subterfuge and spectacle” seen in the Godzilla series with some of it working, although the outlet looked to “the constant charisma of Russell” to fall back on:
“In the first five episodes of ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’…there is a whole lot of subterfuge and spectacle surrounding this that the story wades its way through. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t, but there is always the constant charisma of Russell to fall back on. Whether it's letting out a shout as he steals a car to uttering snarky retorts when being interrogated, he is the main attraction to the whole experience (sorry, Godzilla).”
JoBlo called the character work in the show “quite good” but expressed uncertainty about “why we should care about the characters” right now:
“As an exploration of the impact of living in a world where Godzilla exists, Monarch showcases how the world fares in the aftermath of a devastating event. The character work here is quite good, but halfway through the season, I am still unsure why we should care about the characters or their missing father.”
Will Apple TV+’s New Godzilla Show Succeed?
With this series doing its best to add to the legacy of the most recent Godzilla franchise, last visited in theaters with Godzilla vs. Kong and in Netflix’s Skull Island, fans are curious to see exactly what Legacy of Monsters will bring to the table.
More than anything, it appears that the human characters in this series are driving the narrative forward rather than detracting from it, something that Godzilla movies aren’t typically known for.
Additionally, critics already seem to be highly impressed by the visual effects and other technical aspects of this series, with Apple TV+ clearly putting a major budget behind this new MonsterVerse epic.
And with plans already in place for Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire to add a new chapter to this franchise in 2024, viewers are hoping this new series will serve as a solid lead-up to the next big-screen entry.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters will begin streaming on Apple TV+ on November 17.