Wednesday 23 March 2011

Today's Review: Monsters

"ET - Exceptionally Terrific" says New Of The World, apparently. That's funny, I get it, it's because this movie is about aliens, and you thought it was good. But I guess calling the movie "Aliens" crosses paths with James Cameron, and you never want to do that.

Monsters is about aliens though. But there's no real reason why it should be. The story goes that six years ago a probe was sent into space to collect samples of potential extraterrestrial life, but crash landed on its way back to Earth and spunked alien babies all over the place. But apparently our planet holds the exact conditions needed for these aliens to survive and grow, or at least half of Mexico does. Why not a more native Godzilla type origin? Eh, everyone loved District 9 I guess, so we'll go with aliens.

Monster was written, shot and directed by one man, Gareth Edwards. He basically drove around Mexico with a small crew, filmed what he needed, often without permission and with whichever people were hanging around at the time, then took it all home, added in special effects by himself and bam, film done. It's quite an achievement that such a small crew managed to make this movie on such a small budget, the settings are very well captured and there's no significant loss in production value compared to many other movies i've seen.

So 6 years have passed, half of Mexico is a "quarantine" zone, and our story involves a young photojournalist being ordered by his boss to escort his daughter to the coast where she can catch a ferry back to the States. But of course, it all goes wrong and they end up having to hike through the infected zone to the closed off US border. What action filled adventures will they get up to?

The answer is not many. I get what Edwards was trying to do, telling the story after the aliens came, instead of the constant obsession with showing mass battles against the newcomers, but he could have made it a bit more eventful. The guy from the Daily Mirror who said it's "action packed" clearly wandered into the wrong movie. They don't even get into the infected zone until over halfway through, and even then most of their time is spent idly wandering through the wilderness and chatting to people about how weird it is that there are monsters around.

The one or two encounters that happen through the journey aren't exciting in any way whatsoever. One is pretty much ignored, the other sees our heroes hiding in a car until the thing goes away. It's hardly edge of your seat stuff. Still, the atmosphere is there, and while not much is seen of the monsters themselves, the effects of their presence and the military's response are very well communicated throughout, and there's enough character development to let you care about the two main characters, even though they're never in any immediate danger.

If you're looking for an action packed alien movie, this is most definitely not for you. Try District 9 instead, 'cause that's awesome. If you're not looking for an action packed alien movie, then by all means try it, but don't say I didn't warn you. It's not that great.

My rating: 2/5

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