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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Review: Monsters (12A) ★★★★★
Six years after Earth has suffered an alien invasion a cynical journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through an infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.


I don't think I've ever been as surprised by a film as I have with Monsters. To start with this is not your 'a' typical monster movie. What it is, is a deep character driven road-movie that concentrates more on the developing relationship of the two leads than it does with the monsters (or creatures as they are known throughout).

It was this twist that caught me off guard and how I thank the film-makers for it. I was expecting a District 9 (which its been unfairly compared with) style film with ladles of action and creature mayhem. What I got was something much more pure and sublime and a film that engaged me right through to the end credits.

Sure there are creatures in this film, don't get me wrong, but they play a bit part, even just the background if you will, to the two leads Samantha and Andrew. Its these two characters that make the film what it is, not the creatures or the CGI (which admittedly is impressive when shown) and drive the film forward.

Samantha is the spoilt rich girl who gets caught up in mayhem and when admitted to a local hospital her father, who owns a large publishing firm, sends one of his journalists to escort her back to the States. This story arc is nothing new and has been seen a hundred times before but is played out so well, so intricately that you begin to really care about these two people. At times you even forget they are stuck in the middle of this insane situation, it becomes almost nullified by their growing relationship. If you could imagine Lost In Translations loneliness and companionship in a foreign land and add the odd alien then you have Monsters in a nutshell.

When the aliens are shown, it is done with such subtlety and flair that nothing is ever over-stated. They move so quietly and silkly but attack with such ferocity that it makes them all the more terrifying. However, as one character states, they only attack when provoked, leave them be and they leave you be. Interesting then that there are air strikes aplenty and usually all bearing the America flag. Could the meaning of the title be leaning toward something other than the creatures?

Some people will watch this film and complain that nothing happens, that its boring and misleading, well that's their opinion but I really think they've unfairly misjudged the film for what it actually is. The fact that Gareth Edwards (writer, director and almost everything else) shot this with only the two lead actors, all others were locals asked to participate, one camera and a limited budget of approx $15,000 then I find it amazing what he's pulled off and should be heaped with praise.

An astounding film, great characters, and a great director in the making make this a film you must see.


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