Monsters and Men (2018) Poster

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8/10
A Slow, Riveting Drama
kjproulx14 September 2018
There are far too many films that go unnoticed each year and fall by the wayside, being remembered as a little gem of the year that it was released. While Monsters and Men probably won't make any of my must-see lists, it's a shame that this particular movie probably won't find a large audience. It's stories like these that explore the issues we face on a day-to-day basis that never get seen. People ask for movies that they can sympathize with or relate to, but they hardly ever turn out to see them. It's sad to say, but most independent movies don't receive the box office return that they deserve. If you notice Monsters and Men playing in your city and are ready to sit down and witness something raw and true, then here's why I definitely recommend checking this one out.

After resisting arrest, a young man is unarmed but gunned down by the officer anyway. Monsters and Men follows characters during the aftermath of this police shooting and how it affects the lives of others, regardless of whether or not they had been related. The core story revolves around the teenager who filmed the shooting and how it affects him on an emotional level, a police officer who is ridiculed for the way that he chooses to look at the event, and a young baseball prospect, who happens to have a policeman as a father. The way these stories sort of intertwine will either work for you or it won't, but I found this particular story to be incredibly engaging.

Many viewers may be thrown off by the slow pace and long scenes of self-reflection, but I personally found these moments to non-verbally give depth to each of these characters. For instance, the opening sequence of the movie showcases an off-duty cop being pulled over, simply because the colour of his skin didn't sit well with the police officer who pulled him over. This sequence sets the overall message of the movie in motion and his police officer easily became my favourite portion of the film, delivering one of the best speeches I've heard all year. It's quite eye-opening and really makes you think twice about the way news and media manipulate stories on a daily basis.

Where this film started to lose me, however, was in its final few moments. Once the first two acts conclude and every message the film wanted to give has been given, you can clearly see where the film will probably end its run, and it does nothing to deviate from that. The story is the strongest when it's following these characters, but it becomes a very simplistic film by the end. I found myself wondering why the filmmakers chose to end on such an easy note, but it also doesn't hurt the movie in any way either. I was frustrated, solely due to the fact that the performances were terrific and the story progressed so nicely, but it chose to play it safe (possibly to not offend or manipulate any of its viewers).

In the end, Monsters and Men is an upcoming feature film that I don't believe is receiving anywhere near the marketing that it deserves, which is a real shame, due to the fact that it's quite a good film all around. From the quiet moments that build character, to the score that almost becomes its own character, to the continuous messages placed throughout the film, I was engaged from start to finish. There are surely some moments that play it too safe, but this is a very well-crafted story that deserves to be seen by many. I recommend checking it out if it's playing in your area, or even on demand eventually.
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9/10
Realistic
jrwygant8 March 2019
There are no stereotyped villains or good guys in this film, only different people reacting in different ways to the same event, which we never actually see. In that it resembles what we usually learn from what we regard as "news." This film is seriously under-rated and is one of the most realistic cop films I've ever seen.
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7/10
"Monsters and Men" vs. "The Hate U Give", and the winner is...
paul-allaer13 October 2018
"Monsters and Men" (2018 release; 05 min.) brings the story of three black men. As the movie opens, a black guy (we later learn his name is Dennis) in his car is pulled over for no apparent reason. After the cops check his driver's license, they tell him "sorry to bother you, you are good to go", but what the cops don't know is that Dennis is a copy himself (off duty at that time). We then get to know Manny, who is filling out a job application to become a building security guard. After coming back home in Brooklyn, he notices a commotion, and comes close, filming the whole thing. A black guy in a store is surrounded by 6 or 7 cops. At some point a shot is fired and the black guy is killed. Later on, Manny struggles whether to release the footage. At this point we're 10 min. into the movie. In the third story line much later in the movie, we get to know Zyrich, a high school baseball phenom. To tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the feature-length debut from writer/director Reinaldo Marcus Green. Here he tackles an all too familiar topic these days: police brutality, in particular white cop against unarmed black man. It is very easy to fall in the trap of stereotypes (all cops are bad!!!), which this film thankfully avoids (unlike another recent movie--more on that later) hence credit must go to Green for providing a more nuanced perspective. In that sense, Dennis (the black cop) plays the most important role in the movie, and the casting of John David Washington is a stroke of genius, as he is outstanding, just as he was in "BlackkKlansman" earlier this year. Washington brings Dennis as an earnest guy who tries his best in a difficult environment. The story line of Manny is also top notch. So far, so good. Alas, the last third of the movie, centering around HS baseball phenom Zyrich falters badly. I see what Green is trying to do but it simple does not feel authentic or credible. But overall I still quite liked the film. This is in stark contrast to that other recent "white cop brutality against unarmed black man" themed movie, "The Hate U Give", in which there literally isn't a single decent white person (let alone a cop) in the movie and all African-Americans are 'good' (but for the token black drug king). By all means stay far away from "The Hate U Give".

"Monsters and Men" premiered at this year's Sundance film festival to good acclaim. It recently opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The early evening screening where I saw this at turned out to be a private screening as in: I was literally the only person in the theater. Hopefully this movie will garner a wider audience when it becomes available on more platforms. If you are interested in important social issues that are brought in a nuanced manner, I'd readily suggest you check out "Monsters and Men", be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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6/10
Great Material, disjointed
jramalho19 March 2019
The film starts out well enough, the acting is good and the story nuanced. The starting material and development are powerful, if predictable (nothing wrong with that). Perhaps to counter this, the option was to consecutively follow three different perspectives on the same events, three characters who hardly intersect, each with a clear "role" in terms of message. Although permanently unresolved issues are a key component of the film, in the end for me it felt disjointed due to this, three partial stories not necessarily making up a single great on. But I look forward for more from this director.
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9/10
Awesome
rkandpal-045496 October 2018
Nice movie trying to show both side of the story. A rotten fruit can spoil whole bag.
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A measured, realistic look at the consequences of "stop and frisk."
jdesando7 October 2018
If Monsters and Men were a more incendiary testimony to police brutality, as its title suggests, the audience would be fired up to demonstrate in favor of minorities who have been wronged in "stop-and-frisk" injustices. Fortunately, it's not more volatile; it is rather a thoughtful, albeit measured, rumination on racism and inequality.

Debut director, Reinaldo Marcus Green, takes a careful look at an event that sounds like the death of Eric Garner in 2014 Staten Island. In Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighborhood, Nuyorican Manny (Anthony Ramos) witnesses an innocent youth murdered by a policeman in an all-too frequent stop of young black men. Manny spends the first part of the film tortured about the right thing to do with his evidence.

In a second of three segments, black patrol officer Dennis (John David Washington) is conflicted between his loyalty to the force and his understanding of how the system does not favor black men. Although he's dropped from the rest of the film, he represents the moral quandary about the injustices and the fact that some characters will not follow the usual clichés of these message-type dramas.

The film doesn't so much as preach, either through voiceover or ponderous character, as it shows the daily indignities of young NYC black men in the white-dominated system that makes justice elusive for him and his peers.

In the final segment of the tryptic, Zyric (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) is a gifted young athlete forced by his conscience to join the protest against brutality and at the same time jeopardize his future to play pro baseball. Like Monsters and Men, Zyric asks you to join him deciding to do the right thing. Not everyone does.
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8/10
"If I resist arrest, are you gonna shoot me, too?"
jordanand9416 October 2018
I was very excited to see this film and it certainly did not disappoint. A film of this kind is as relevant as they come and is up there in the ranks of other films with similar themes this year, such as Blindspotting and Black KkKlansman.

Manny, played by Hamilton's Anthony Ramos, records and looks on helplessly as his friend (who is African American) is shot and killed by the police. The killing has a ripple effect on the community and a plethora of citizens make their voices heard on the matter. Manny is just a family man who is trying his best to get by and provide for his family, but he ultimately puts his future in jeopardy to raise awareness of his friend's death.

John David Washington portrays Dennis Williams, a black police officer who has himself received questionable treatment from other police officers while off duty. He understands people being upset about the police killing, but he also feels that those people don't understand what it is like to be a cop, what it's like "out on the streets." The decision to have a black police officer as one of the lead characters was a great idea, as we get more than just one perspective.

Kelvin Harrison Jr. portrays Zyrick, a young and promising baseball player who decides to get involved in the fight by raising his voice along with so many others. Zyrick's father's desire is for him to reach baseball stardom, to leave the cruel streets behind him and achieve his wildest dreams, to not wind up shot on the streets like the man mentioned. This film is really about three characters and how their lives transpire after the shooting, and Zyrick was probably my favorite.

The ending to this film was the icing on the cake, brilliantly conveyed. There were several scenes in the film that emitted so much power, and the performances were fantastic. This film isn't one-sided and that's what I love about it; you get the story told from a police officer and from people on the other side. If you want to see a human story and a relevant theme told from different perspectives, go see this.
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6/10
Reasonably Balanced
larrys318 January 2019
Reasonably balanced presentation of this highly charged subject that we, unfortunately, see all too frequently in today's headlines. A strong nuanced performance here by John David Washington as a conflicted NYPD police officer. Also, a solid big screen debut of writer and director Reinaldo Marcus Green. However I didn't like the ambiguous ending here.
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10/10
Again Wow
roycedressel-544353 October 2018
Neon knocks it out of the park again. Finally, the movies and their stars are back.
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A good film, but lacking in certain regards and ultimately a little too weak for such an important subject matter.
Councillor30041 July 2019
Killings of black men by the police have been a major theme for American cinema in 2018 - for obvious and very timely reasons. I had already seen "Blindspotting", "BlacKkKlansman" and "The Hate U Give" prior to watching this movie, three films which had a much larger budget to work with respectively, but were also a lot more creativity-driven and appreciated film as an art. That wasn't the case with "Monsters and Men", a film which largely flew under the radar despite its controversial subject.

There are three different stories told in this film, and they never really come together in any remarkable way. That's not a major problem itself, but it does make it feel like you're watching three different films at once, and it creates a convoluted and messy atmosphere even when the scenes itself are character-oriented and slow-moving.

I didn't dislike the film; in fact, I am very glad it was made. Maybe my vision was too clouded by having seen so many films with similar subjects, so I wouldn't necessarily call my arguments a valid criticism, but it seems a common point among reviewers that the three different POVs were not used efficiently enough to bind the story together in the end. There are committed performances from John David Washington and Kelvin Harrison Jr. in particular, but I can't help feeling that something was amiss to make this film a little more powerful, a little more impactful.
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9/10
Wow!
jacquiwellbrook30 April 2019
A powerful film about dilemmas, very well done, similarities with the film Crash I thought.
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7/10
Slow and lacks originality
lazarus-670837 October 2018
In saying all that, I liked it! The performances were strong and yes the film has been done before. But it's decent for sure. Worth more than a 5
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1/10
Snooze fest
mark-charleson10 January 2019
Seriously could have had a storey, then they spoilt it. They tried too turn this into a race film and its a snooze festival. Give it a miss.
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1/10
Bahahahaha! NO!
shaneandersen-6079729 March 2019
The rarity of incidents like this are sad and people act like its daily. 99.999999999999% of Police shootings are completely justified. And ones that arent go to prison. Sorry, stop pushing hate. LOSERS
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10/10
Deftly crafted
mrbgoode-130 March 2019
Brilliant filmmaking and storytelling. Acting, film sequencing and music all excellently put together.
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Designed to make you think
kz917-122 January 2019
Sadly this happens.

Hopefully one day it will cease to.
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2/10
Predictable race hate film
jimhyde-564-61247615 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Glad this was free inflight movie. Predictable race hate. Bad whitey cops are the typical villains. Sorry, stop and frisk have been profoundly less used. But isn't it ironic that the prevalent search of the baseball player showed he was carrying drugs only to be missed by the cops. Finally, why did the stop the film when it did. Didn't they want their newly SJW lose his opportunity at big baseball contract? Just ask Kap with his playability now.
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7/10
subtle, sensitive
kevin c3 March 2019
Monsters And Men tackles racism and police brutality, but not as the trailer would have you believe. It's a reflective drama in which three different protagonists' lives overlap. It is well acted and a subtle, sensitive film.

Plot wise, this is standard fare. But it doesn't lessen the impact of the story. With all three, you get continual close-up's of their anguish and torment. Some may feel the film should be angrier. This isn't Spike Lee, and we have a purposely low-key ending. It's an angry, shouty world, but insightful and delicate can be just as powerful.
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