“ Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Fantasy / Theatrical Release: 2010 / Director: Gareth Edward / Actors: Scoot McNairy ... / Blu-ray released 2011-02-01 at Magnolia / Features of the Blu-ray: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Colour, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen „
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#Note# This is a review of the film only.
I'd never heard of this movie before I found in on British Airways's inflight movies list when I returned hom for a visit back in March. I love a good sci-fi, and the more original the better, so I thought I'd give it a try.
Six years ago, a asteroid storm over Mexico brought aliens to Earth. These giant beasts are now contained in a quarantine zone that covers most of Mexico. A photojournalist out looking to make a buck is given a strange assignment - to escort his boss's stranded daughter back to the USA. They head for the coast and a ferry, but things go awry and they end up having to pay a group of mercenaries to take them across the quarantine zone itself.
This movie is far more reminescent of that other recent low- budget sci-fi, District 9, and its quite possible that movie influenced Monsters a lot. Out go most of the CGI and big budget effects, in come some excellent acting and a focus on the human element. The setting, Mexico, rather than a South African township, is also similar in its departure from the regular serving of big American cities.
In terms of direction, the feeling is very realistic, with shaky camera work, long periods of silence and lots of reflective moments. The acting and the dialogue are very good, with some interesting comments on human morality. The two leads, Andrew and Samantha, played by relative unknowns Scott McNairy and Whitney Able, have a good onscreen chemistry.
The film is probably best for its protrayal of human greed and failings, despite the severity of the situation. We get the sleazy Mexican ferry owners trying to take advantage of the "rich" Americans, and perhaps my favorite scene is when Andrew, feeling down after being rejected by Samantha, gets drunk on tequila, picks up a girl and subsequently gets robbed, losing their ferry ticket. There are some cliches, too, though, for example the jungle men who "understand" the aliens, and the US military, smashing up everything in their path, as always.
It's certainly a good movie but by no means perfect. I felt the plot, while interesting, was carried out with relative ease, and the developing relationship between Andrew and Samantha just a little formulaic, while the aliens themselves were unoriginal and quite boring to look at (I won't tell you what they looked like, but I was quite disappointed). Then, of course, there was the obligatory "tender" scene between two aliens, to remind us that they are not just man-eating monsters but have their own intelligence too, as if anyone watching with a stred of intellect wouldn't have realised that anyway.
Overall, a decent sci-fi flick that's well worth watching. Better than most recent Hollywood sci-fi films, but not as good as District 9.
Run time is 94 minutes.
(will probably appear on Ciao)
*Film review only*
The basic plot:
Six years after aliens have invaded Earth a photojournalist agrees to escort his boss's daughter through an infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.
Scoot McNairy - Andrew Kaulder
Whitney Able - Samantha Wynden
I don't think the trailer does this film much justice, it's obviously given false expectations to some people. It's a bit of a road trip through wasteland, but don't expect a big blockbuster with endless shooting, explosions and a hero saving the world... It has very little to do with extra-terrestrials, and is more concerned with the slowly developing relationship between Kaulder and Samantha as they struggle to get to safety.
But it also points the finger at the monstrous things humans do. Yep, we are the real monsters! The "war" against aliens could be any human conflict, where the rich buy their way out of danger, the corrupt minority find ways to profit and the poor ordinary people suffer. And then we see it all on TV from the comfort of the sofa.
Along those lines, the morality of photojournalism is questioned here, with the two main characters discussing whether it's right to take a photo of a dead girl in the street that could make you $50000. For those of you in London (if you can stomach seeing horrific images), there is a "World Press Photo" exhibition now on at the Royal Festival Hall, it's thought provoking to say the least!
I wasn't expecting much but in the end I was pleasantly surprised, considering the film's low budget. Very atmospheric, some striking scenes, good home-made special effects, the shaky camera and out of focus shots make it look partly like a home video and partly like a news report from a war zone, with the aliens only appearing sporadically and in the dark.
The pace was a bit slow at times, but it never felt boring, even though some of the dialogue could have been better. The crazy old woman symbolically wrapped in an American flag possibly got the best line in the film, spouting gibberish before trundling off down the road with her shopping cart.
I liked Scoot McNairy in "In Search of a Midnight Kiss" (it was on TV recently) and I thought he was pretty good here too, playing a regular guy thrown into an extraordinary situation. I didn't warm to the female lead though (Whitney Able), felt she was a little too emotionless, and the romance between her and McNairy's character didn't feel very believable (as it turns out, they are a couple in real life, but I didn't know that while watching the film! Weird, eh?)
But overall, glad I ventured out on a cold Sunday morning to see it, would recommend others giving it a chance, as a change from Hollywood remakes and reboots that seem to be churned out on a weekly basis these days.
Written & directed by Gareth Edwards
Distribution: Vertigo Films
UK cinema release: Dec 3rd 2010
Running time 94 minutes