Monsters (2010)

The true monsters are the advertising executives

Six years ago, NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon after, new life forms began to appear and grow. In an effort to stem the destruction that resulted, half of Mexico was quarantined as an Infected Zone. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain the massive creatures... Our story begins when a jaded US journalist (Scoot McNairy) begrudgingly agrees to find his boss' daughter, a shaken American tourist (Whitney Able) and escort her through the infected zone to the safety of the US border.

The film opens with a description of the film's backstory, which effectively explains the situation in this film's world. What follows is 94 minutes that doesn't ask you to sit back and enjoy the action and money shots of monsters, as the misguided advertising tried to convince you, but it asks you to invest in these two characters who we'll only spend the film with, and stay tuned to their story.

As far as characters go, the film only focuses upon the two leads. Andrew Kaulder is a likable enough lead that effectively connects with the audience, and Samantha proves to be more than the ditzy daddys girl you half expect from her, instead being a strong character within her own right. With the film focusing upon these two leads alone, it's not really a spoiler to say that a romance develops between the two, but it is handled really well and manages to not feel at all tacked on. It also helps that the two leads have such great chemistry, which is expected, considering the two leads are actually married in real life.

Banksy's latest work didn't impress as much

Extraordinarily, Monsters chooses to dial back on the action, instead focusing upon the characters and their journey. Rather than constantly showcase the monsters, Gareth Edwards wisely saves them for television sightings and has them be heard as opposed to seen, which is a great decision as when it comes to the audience actually seeing a monster engage on-screen, it's a greatly tense moment. Gareth Edwards wisely uses both of these methods to deliver a better film than the typical constant action, never ending monster money shots that end up lacking in depth, story and likable characters.

While I believe a strength of the film is having the monsters off-screen, I felt a weakness was when we actually got a good look at the monsters, as the design felt lazy and left a lot to be desired.

Monsters is a brilliant debut from British director Gareth Edwards. I expect great things from this director, and I look forward to his future works as he joins the ever-growing list of up and coming directors that includes Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish and Duncan Jones. One of the most underrated films of last year, and definitely worth a watch. Just don't go expecting an action packed film like it was advertised.


Anonymous said…
Loved this when i saw it. I agree with the marketing point though, i think it helped that i went into it knowing nothing about it, so i could just enjoy it for what it was.