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Monsters (not Monsters Inc.)

Hot Monkey

Well-Known Member
A while ago I caught this when it was available as a special pre-theatrical release On Demand preview viewing. It really impressed me and I was going to post a review here but the I got busy and then it snowed ten feet and so I forgot about it... until it was just released on BluRay a few weeks ago. I think I may have mentioned it once but never followed up with a review. So here it is...



http://www.amazon.com/Monsters-Spec...5AMS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297628922&sr=8-1

Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon reentry over Central 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 U.S. journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through the infected zone to the safety of the U.S. border.
The aliens have landed, but not to worry: they've been quarantined in northern Mexico, and the US government has put up a great wall along the border to keep the unwanted visitors out. This infected zone is the setting for Monsters, a sci-fi parable with a low budget and some high ambitions. As even a one-sentence summary suggests, director Gareth Edwards is working a metaphor that pokes at contemporary fears about immigrants and "the other" encroaching from over the border. Except these aliens aren't illegal, they're extraterrestrial. Taking us into the Zona Infectada are two ill-matched travelers: Kaulder (Scoot McNairy, from In Search of a Midnight Kiss) is a journalist moving through Mexico in search of photographs of the large, tentacled creatures, while Sam (Whitney Able) just happens to be the daughter of his employer. Because the boss needs his daughter safely escorted back to El Norte, an irritated Kaulder is stuck with the job. This creates a modest amount of friction between the two voyagers, but mostly they're trekking through the zone and dodging dangerous situations. The social metaphor gets thicker as the movie goes on, particularly when we get to the question of whom the border wall is harming more, the outsiders or the builders. But the movie has other problems as well. Neither main character is colorfully drawn, and the usual disaster-movie issue of credible-behavior-in-a-crisis doesn't always feel right. A climactic sequence involving the aliens at night is rightly spooky, even if you're aware the film is doing a bit of reaching at that point. The creatures are all the more impressive given their homemade quality (Edwards is a visual-effects veteran who did his computer effects in a very streamlined way), and indeed they are more impressive than their human counterparts.
The most notable thing about this movie is that you need to know up front that it was shot on hand held HD camera's with a total budget of about $100,000. There are only a handful of paid actors in the film... most are bystanders and extra's that were recruited along the way as they shot the film while traveling up through Central America and into Texas. It's a very simple unassuming sci-fi film that is not by any stretch of the imagination a typical Hollywood action flick with alien spaceships flying all around shooting laser beams, etc. But having said that what it does manage to pull off is (IMO) a solid slap in the face to such Hollywood films. Without a big budget or any star power it is still very tense and suspenseful at times... looks great... even the home made CGI effects work fine. It should serve as a hard lesson to Hollywood in film making quality and efficiency. With a fraction of a typical Hollywood budget this guy pulled off something pretty cool. Sound on the DVD is good... musical soundtrack is original and sets the right eerie mood... and the circumstancial/accidental love story that occurs between the two lead characters (OK the two ONLY characters) makes the movie a lot more interesting. There a lot of immigration debate metaphors (supposedly not intentional by director)... and the pace moves slowly. But it has just enough eerieness and suspense to keep you hooked. I liked it a lot but I will say that I think many will find it a bit slow and/or boring. So fair warning it may not be for everyone but I enjoyed it.

Warning... trailer makes film look a bit more action packed then it is...

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_-gL3U1T5Y[/youtube]
Side note... the director made a big impression with the low budget wonder at some recent film festivals and supoposedly has been tapped to direct the long overdue proper redo of the failed American Godzilla film attempt. Should be cool to see what he can do with a real budget.

Monkey
 

Huey

Well-Known Member
Famous
Haven't seen it, but I have heard good things about it. Need to add it to my Netflix que. Thanks for the revue Monkey.
Rob
 

walls

Well-Known Member
Monkey,
You and I are usually on the same page but this time I disagree, to me this was one disapointing movie. It never satisfied with the monster part. Cloverfield was much better executed, and yes I understand the budget "for Cloverfiald" was bigger, its just that this movie kept promising something bigger then it was able to offer. It is a worthy rental....but it is also a one time and done for me.
 

Hot Monkey

Well-Known Member
Walls,

It was definitely a little light on the monster action... probably about 80% love story/20% monster movie. So I'm with you there. My good impression had more to do with the overall presentation. look, style, mood, etc. of the movie which was (IMO) very well executed especially when you consider how little money and/or technology was expended. Cloverfield is ironic in that sense because they spent many millions working hard to pull off a similar home made presentation style... almost like they had to spend a lot to make it look like they spent very little. Having said that I liked Cloverfield so that is not a criticism. And so again for me the success of Monsters is that I came away from it thinking "wow... imagine what this guy could do if some big producers gave him a couple hundred million dollars to make a sci-fi blockbuster." And it looks like we will find out soon enough when he hits us with the new American Godzilla redo.

Like I said earlier this movie will not be for everyone. But for me it was a good preview of what I am hopeful will turn out to be a very solid director and film maker in a genre that could certainly use some one like that to revive it.

Monkey
 

walls

Well-Known Member
Well then wouldnt this be a cheap ripoff of Cloverfield? :eek:bscene-buttred:

I see where you are comiing from, maybe if they didnt try to sell it as a MONSTER movie with some love story stuff and sold it as a LOVE story with some monster stuff I would have liked it more.

And hopefully....HOPEFULLY we dont fuck up Godzilla again. :music-rockout:
 

mzpro5

Well-Known Member
Famous
walls said:
Monkey,
You and I are usually on the same page but this time I disagree, to me this was one disapointing movie. It never satisfied with the monster part. Cloverfield was much better executed, and yes I understand the budget "for Cloverfiald" was bigger, its just that this movie kept promising something bigger then it was able to offer. It is a worthy rental....but it is also a one time and done for me.
:text-+1:

I had this one on the DVR (free preview like Monkey) but I actually didn't finish watching it, disappointing.
 

Huey

Well-Known Member
Famous
From what I've read, this movie was shot with $100,000 and hand held HD cameras. There is only a handful of paid actors, the rest are locals. Would this movie had been better with the same story and actors, but a bigger budget?
Rob
 

Hot Monkey

Well-Known Member
Well then wouldnt this be a cheap ripoff of Cloverfield? :eek:bscene-buttred:
:teasing-tease:

maybe if they didnt try to sell it as a MONSTER movie with some love story stuff and sold it as a LOVE story with some monster stuff I would have liked it more.
Yeah I thought the preview was misleading. I saw it after I watched the movie and wondered why they tried to spin it as having more action. Probably just some marketing guy at the film distributor trying to drum up some interest. I think that's the wrong approach because it only leads to disappointed fans with unfufilled expectations.

Would this movie had been better with the same story and actors, but a bigger budget?
Hard to say. For me it works because it's low budget and still cool looking. If it were a big fancy production who knows.

Monkey
 
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