As one who read film news daily almost obsessively, I found it hard to not get excited about “Monsters.” Positive reviews, the fact that it was made under USD20k, and it was a sci-fi film which is not exactly synonymous with ‘five digits budget,’ all built up expectations that I had started to wish that the film would be this year’s “District 9.” The verdict though, it’s not. It wasn’t bad, and I’m not disappointed. It has its own charm, but I had hoped that it would be much much better and that’s my own fault.
Six years prior, a NASA space-probe that had collected samples from what possibly an extra-terrestial sign of life, crash landed in Central America. The area near the crash site, just south of U.S border and covering maybe half of Mexico is now declared “infected zone” where military built a perimeter to keep them contained. The film follows two Americans in Mexico who was trying to cross the infected zone to the U.S. Of why they don’t just book a plane to Rio, connecting to Cape Town, London, and back in the U.S. through New York, is something that the film doesn’t explain.
“Monsters” are more about the characters than it is about the titular beings. I’d bet many would be disappointed as they are with “Cloverfield.” I mean, why that it must be established that the only charm of a film about creatures had to be the cool monster designs or the fiery fighting against it? I, personally, liked the characters aspect in any film that featuring monsters that I get furious when one doesn’t respect the characters in excuse of cool special effect and stuff. Prominent example, that recently crappy film about the glowing blue orb “Skyline.”
This film did pretty good on putting two unknown actors, donned the character of two strangers that had to endure the perilous journey together. They relationship grew from acquaintance, to acceptance, to affections and it was done in a ‘normal,’ non-obstrusive way. It was lovely to watch them, and make us care about them, about how well they’re going to survive which of course given the scarce presence of actual monsters, becoming a sole key to how well the film rolls forward.
Obviously, somewhere in the film, Gareth Edwards had to create visuals of it and this is when the film’s prominent lack shows. If you don’t believe that the film could be made in USD15,000 just wait until one of the Monsters popping up and you’ll accept it just fine.
All in all, as one who appreciate more in survival than the eradication, I’m enjoying it more than my peers. Likeable characters that were easy to root for, and visual imagery that rely on you using your imagination than what was given, I will defend this film and gave it a solid three stars. This film works well if you’re more into drama than into eye-popping visuals. You could say that it was a love story. The infected zone and monsters and military? They’re just background. Love, could always be happening everywhere, right?
My rating: *** / ****. One interesting point, after the film I had met with a couple of friends and when I asked them about one key scene during the end of the film, they claimed to not noticing anything about it. Surprising. I figured that because I’m noticing it, and realized its implication to the characters, I felt more strongly to this film’s well being than them.