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Archive for December 12th, 2010

Monsters

American photojournalist Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) is working in Central America until he phones the office and is told to drop everything and ensure his bosses daughter Sam (Whitney Able – McNairy’s real life then girlfriend now wife) gets home safely. The only complication is that the movie is set against a backdrop of an “infected zone” where giant extraterrestrial creatures roam around. The American and Mexican military attempt to contain and control them causing more devastation than the creatures themselves.

We are told from the opening text that the infection and the creatures came from a crashed NASA space probe that had discovered alien life Jupiter’s moon Europa. Don’t expect to see a “monster movie” this is about the people not the creatures (I don’t think the word monster is actually used in the movie) the real story here is that of a road movie. As is often the case with road movies where the supporting cast are somewhat transient a lot rests on the shoulders of the main actors, this is especially true here as so many of the supporting cast are none actors found along the way (this really is guerrilla filmmaking!). The surprising thing is that based on their performances here I can’t believe Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able aren’t bigger stars. My only past experience of either of them is McNairy’s starring role in the brilliant indie movie In Search of a Midnight Kiss (go find the DVD if you haven’t seen it). I think that is about to change, they both have a lot of projects ahead of them.

In interviews I have heard director Gareth Edwards talking about the subtext of the movie reflecting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is all very evident but look a little deeper and he has managed to achieve something more profound and more fundamental. Like all great road movies there is an existential thread running through perfectly played out through the characters particularly Sam. Borrowing equally from Apocalypse Now, Jurassic Park and It Happened One Night it is a road movie, a monster movie, an allegorical tale and a story about life and love; all this could have been a mess but not only brilliantly constructed it also appears strangely effortless in its delivery.

There is a lot of talk about the movies budget, I have heard suggestions ranging from $16,000 to $1million, however you look at it, it is considerably cheaper than Skylines $10million or Avatars $300million. All this is irrelevant; good is good and bad is bad regardless of budget, so how good is Monsters? Let’s put it like this, unless there are six or seven amazing films released in the next two weeks monsters will appear pretty high in my top ten movies of the year.

Five Stars out of Five

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