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 North America. Soon after, new life forms began to appear and half of Mexico was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain "the creatures"...... Our story begins when a US journalist agrees to escort a shaken tourist through the infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.Written by
The film was shot using prosumer level recording equipment, with an on set crew of only seven people: director and camera operator Gareth Edwards, sound operator Ian Maclagan, line producer Jim Spencer, production manager Verity Oswin, a driver, and the two stars (dating each other at the time, now a real-life married couple) Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able. Because they were such a small crew using so simple equipment, the entire production team could fit into one van. See more »
Toward the beginning of the film when Sam and Andrew are first attempting to purchase ferry ride tickets to the U.S., the worker informs them that tickets currently cost 4,000 Colones due to high demand. A Colón is the currency found in Costa Rica and 4,000 colones is equivalent to about 8 U.S. Dollars. See more »
Six years ago... NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A space probe was launched to collect samples but broke up during re-entry over Mexico. Soon after new life forms began to appear and half of the was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE. Today... The Mexican & US military still struggle to contain 'the creatures'...
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Commendable but falls short of what it could have been (and the hype isn't helping either)
If there is one thing that critics can agree on it is that Monsters is a brilliant film and that it marks a turning point where special effects are possible on a low-budget, thus ending Hollywood's rule – forever. So, it was quite the nice surprise to find that this film, having only just come out in the UK, was one of those featured on a recent flight I was on. I know that a tiny screen on a plane is not the place the makers wanted me to watch it but I did so anyway, so perhaps some may wish to take my opinion in that context? I don't know.
Anyway, I tried to ignore the hype and just come to the film as fresh as I could, wary of anything that is overly praised just because I have been burnt before. What I found with Monsters though was a film that was worthy of the praise, but just not for the reasons that everyone was saying. Made on a comparatively tiny budget with a tiny crew and with special effects done on a laptop, this film is worthy of praise for how it was made and the fact that it is reasonably good despite being made rather on the fly. This is why I think that so many critics have been quick to praise it – because it does show that "big" effects movies can be done for less than the disgusting budget of films like Transformers 2 and so on. You already know where i'm going, so let me just get there – to me, the praise has been spread beyond this aspect in a way that the film doesn't totally deserve.
Watching it for myself I could see lots going on but the word that flooded my mind was "nearly". In terms of the overall sweep of the film, while some have talked about immigration for me the film is an allegory for Afghanistan. We have the "monsters" in a set area that is heavily attacked by the military – attacks which do more harm to the innocents in the area than the monsters themselves do. At this level it is quite clever but the film never makes more of this, leaving it as it is and not making comment beyond showing the news footage of the monsters as being background noise in the way war coverage (sadly) has become for many of us – the norm. Below this we have what is essentially a road-movie where the two characters fall for each other and also make their own journeys in regards the monsters. Again this is "OK" but never really comes off in the way it should. The improvised dialogue works against the film in my opinion. It should have been well-honed dialogue – writers get paid for a reason, it is because generally written material is better than that made up on the spot. So it is here and the film misses the chance to let the dialogue be the driver for the allegory and the relationship and the character development. As it is the film is "nearly" there on this aspect.
The characters did bug me a but because they were not as strong as suggested. Able and McNairy deserve credit for their efforts and their reasonably natural performances but they deserved a better script (or any script). Chatting naturally they do not help the overall film and it is a shame that again their performances are a case of "nearly" or "if only....". I can't stand in the way of praise for Edwards though as his drive and skill made this film. His effects are used sparingly but they are impressive (small screen or not). His use of them is clever because it frees the film up to do much more than just be an effects movie – it is just a shame then that his material doesn't actually delivery in the space left for it.
Overall Monsters is a reasonably good film but it is one that could and should have been better in key regards. The nature of the making should be praised to the rooftop but the film itself falls short. It is never as smart as it thinks it is, never as engaging as it should be and never has the commentary that it surely needed. Worth a look and well worth supporting but in my opinion the gushing noise from the critics is more to do with the fact it is a low budget success rather than a brilliant film generally.
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