I love monster movies. Love ’em. Been a Godzilla fan since I was a mid single-digit child. I was watching some kind of monster movie when my mom kicked my dad out of the house for good. If there was a film with a monster, giant or otherwise, I’d watch it. And I still do.
I love monster movies. Love ’em. Been a Godzilla fan since I was a mid single-digit child. I was watching some kind of monster movie when my mom kicked my dad out of the house for good. If there was a film with a monster, giant or otherwise, I’d watch it. And I still do. So, here comes a movie called Monsters, and I almost squealed like I was back in my single-digit years. However, much like Cloverfield, Monsters is not so much a movie about giant creatures as it is just a movie with giant creatures IN IT.
A NASA probe was sent out to the Jupiter moon Europa to bring back life found in the galaxy. But when the probe returned, it crashed somewhere in Central America. Six years later new life forms begin appearing and half of Mexico was quarantined as an Infected Zone. Now the American and Mexican military are still trying to keep “the creatures” contained. The film begins with photojournalist Anthony Kaulder agreeing to escort his boss’s daughter, Samantha Wynden, through the infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the U.S. border.
And of course, their travel plans start out easy enough, but alas, the best laid plans oft go awry. And each mishap puts their trip further into danger. But frankly, there wasn’t enough build-up of tension – or should I say, they didn’t maintain it consistently.
Almost everything about this movie is right on. The acting is great. And most of it is improvised. It’s quite natural. And the leads, Scoot McNairy as Andrew (yes, his name is Scoot), and Whitney Able as Sam, are quite good. And all t he other characters are Mexican locals, most of which had no idea they were going to be in a movie until about 20 minutes before being filmed. And yet, they all manage to pull it off.
The movie looks great. It’s reasonably well shot; more cinematic than shaky documentary style, which is a nice change of pace. Yet, it still feels intimate and real. And the effects? Well, these is pretty remarkable CGI stuff here, and when you find out the writer/director/DP/Production Designer Gareth Edwards did all the effects on his laptop computer, well, it leaves you agog. Oh, and it should be noted that this movie was very independent. As I mentioned, Gareth Edwards was pretty much 60 % of the crew. And it cost about what the catering cost for one day on a big Hollywood shoot.
By all accounts, this movie should be garnering nothing but glowing praise from me. But where it seems to be lacking is in the title itself. For a movie called Monsters, there are surprisingly few scenes with monsters in them. The true focus of the film is Anthony and Sam, and how their relationship blossoms and they begin to fall in love. And that’s all fine and good. In fact, it’s a very well written, realistic growing attraction. But there are times in the film where it slows down and focuses completely on them. You almost forget they’re traveling through this Zone that is inhabited by giant alien monsters that are rather unpredictable. They lose the tension of their predicament.
Who knows, maybe I just expected more horror/monster action. They certainly marketed it that way. But this is more of a love story/drama with some moments of action interspersed within it. Certainly the closest thing to compare it to is Cloverfield, with its focus being on these young characters trying to get through the city that just happens to be under attack by a giant monster. But the monster isn’t the focus. Maybe I’m just nit-picking here, but I want more monster in my monster movie. Am I asking too much? I don’t think so.
Ultimately, I can’t really say this is a bad movie because it most certainly is not. It’s a really good movie, in fact. It’s just that you should be aware that it’s a movie about these two people falling in love and the backdrop is a giant monster infested Mexico. It’s not a non-stop tension-filled, action movie. There are a few cool scenes with the monsters, but I could have used more to pick up the pace a little in some spots. But hey, that’s just me. I still watch Godzilla movies.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, recommending this film even though I wanted more monsters. Besides, we should support good independent film!