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Ape vs. Monster (2021) Review

We all knew The Asylum would cash in on Godzilla vs. Kong, and sure enough, here comes Ape vs. Monster. Can director Daniel Lusko (Acquitted by Faith, The Road to Rome: Tracing the Steps of Paul the Apostle) and writer George Michael Phillips give us a fun knock-off of the blockbuster? Can they at least deliver a watchable film? Hell no, this is another new low for The Asylum.

Launched in 1985, ELBE was part of a top-secret US-Soviet plan to make contact with alien life forms. Contact with the probe was lost in 2007, but now it’s returned, landing in the New Mexico desert. National Security Advisor Ethan Marcos (Eric Roberts, The Cove, Monster Island) sends Dr. Murphy (Arianna Scott) and her team are sent to retrieve it before the Russians find out. And to check on Abraham, the chimp that was sent up with it.

However when they find the capsule it’s a wreck There’s no trace of the chimp or its corpse, and whatever destroyed the capsule did it from the inside. Something has made Abraham grow to giant size. The Russians show up just in time to stop the giant ape from wiping out the American team.

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Ape vs. Monster starts off like most Asylum films. There’s the same shot of the ISS that they stick into just about every film, a cameo by Eric Roberts and an ultra-important military mission that gets a whole six people assigned to it, all of whom seem to be wearing different styles of camo.

When we see the giant Abraham, the effects are, as expected, laughable. It’s almost as bad as the dialogue between Dr. Linda Murphy and Eva Kuleshov (Katie Sereika, The Hangry Dead: The Biggest Instagram Movie Ever) the leader of the Russian team. They have issues going back to when they were classmates at Oxford.

If this sounds boring as hell, that’s because it is. Talk is cheap, and so is The Asylum, so we get loads of dialogue scenes. That includes somewhat random political rants from several characters, including an extended rant from Eric Roberts about the Russians not being our allies in World War II. That one at least fits in well with portrayals of the Russians that are so cartoonish that I kept expecting them to go look for Moose and Squirrel instead of Ape and Monster.

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Eventually, we get a Gila Monster that drinks some of the alien goo from the capsule and turns into a Godzilla lookalike. It seems the goo lets aliens control the creatures and the only person who might be able to stop them is Dr. Noah Murphy (Rudy Bentz, The Dead of Night), Linda’s estranged father.

The plot isn’t that different from some of Toho’s Godzilla films, including the aliens. Unfortunately Ape vs. Monster can’t measure up to even the silliest of those films. The cast just seems to plod through their roles with no energy or conviction at all. The only thing most of the performances convinced me of was that the actors didn’t want to be there.

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The same could be said for the rest of the production as well. There’s none of the energy that Toho brought to its films. The film’s few scenes of destruction are poorly staged, and even the final battle in Washington DC is underwhelming. A kaiju film needs its scenes of destruction to work, Ape vs Monster fails that test in terms of both quality and quantity.

Ape vs Monster should have been an easy win for The Asylum. Two creatures, lots of CGI planes and tanks for them to stomp on, and some city-sized explosions at the end. That would have kept their fans happy, and if done halfway competently satisfied a lot of general B movie lovers as well. Instead, the creatures are barely on-screen and the destruction almost non-existent.

Ape vs Monster is available to rent or buy on several streaming platforms. You can check The Asylum’s Facebook page for more information.

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