Action Movie Fanatix Review: Monsters

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Now, It’s Our Turn To Adapt.

Starring: Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able

Director: Gareth Edwards

2010  |  93 Minutes  |  Rated R

“You know, it’s different looking at America from the outside.” – Andrew Kaulder 

This Gareth Edwards fella… turns out he’s directing the upcoming Godzilla movie and, since he hasn’t done a whole ton else, I’ve gotta think that this movie is what got him in the director’s chair for the Godzilla.

Six years after alien creatures are inadvertently brought to Earth by NASA, Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy), an American photographer is documenting a war-torn region of Mexico when he’s interrupted by an unusual assignment… escorting Sam Wynden (Whitney Able), his bosses daughter, out of the infected zone.

Right off the bat the acting feels a little stiff but after spending a little time with the characters I felt like I got to know them and feel for them to a degree.  I wouldn’t hang out and have a beer with either of them but I didn’t want them to die.

Kaulder is kind of annoying though, at least at the beginning.  He keeps hitting on his bosses daughter… who also happens to be engaged to another man.  I’m not talking innocent flirting, I’m talking asking to shower with her, to give her back rubs, to sleep in her hotel room.  But without a broken character there can’t be much growth so we grow to like Kaulder.

The director does great job creating a real sense of foreboding danger at all times even though there isn’t constant monster attacks.  This, along with the two main characters, are what keep a viewer engaged.

The film also does an excellent job of creating a world where this feels 100% real.  You don’t feel like you are watching a sci-fi movie.  The ideas behind how the creatures would be able to flourish in our world was well thought out, not just “they’re here, they’re pissed and they’re fucking shit up.”

There is also, at times, a slightly deeper message, drawing parallels to journalists covering war in other countries.  The idea that they go to this other country that is completely ravaged by war (or creatures) and take pictures of horrible atrocities, get paid, and go home to suburbia.  Luckily, the director doesn’t delve too deeply into some preachy message.  It likely would have alienated much of its audience (except those giving out the awards, of course).  As it stands, it simply touches on it to inspire a small amount of thought and then moves on.  I imagine a real life journalist must have to cross that moral dilemma at some point in their lives.

You can tell that the special effects had something of a lower budget.  I don’t know what was spent to create Monsters but I get the impression that they stretched a rather thin budget into something really, truly impressive.  The creatures don’t look quite as good as the monsters in Pacific Rim, King Kong or Jurassic Park but they came pretty darn close considering they were probably only using a fraction of the budget.

My only real complaint would be the actual creature design.  It’s not horrible but they look like insectoid octopuses (octopi?) that sometimes glow.  Now, if I ran into a 100 meter tall insectoid octopus I would be freaked the F out but it looks a little silly on screen.

Monsters certainly isn’t action packed.  I would probably relate it more to a modern day monster adventure movie.  That probably seems like a weird description but at its core we are watching something akin to The Lord of the Rings where we have characters on a journey who encounter some rather wild creatures along the way.  Some people may find this boring and would rather watch, I don’t know, Godzilla.  But I think fans of tales of adventure will probably get a real kick out of Monsters.

Monsters is really a special flick that I wasn’t at all expecting.  It goes so far beyond a smashy, smashy monster flick to something very unique and heartfelt.  I would honestly recommend Monsters to anybody simply because it is so unique.  There are a lot of people who would find themselves enjoying it that wouldn’t have ever given it the chance considering the name and subject matter.  Color me as someone who is NOW looking forward to seeing another Godzilla reboot.

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