Today: February 26, 2024

Monsters DVD/BR

Gareth Edwards’ debut film
was one of the best of 2011 and hands down the most original and delicate
B-Movie for a long time.

Gareth Edwards could be the future of
cinema. It is a bold statement but what his debut film Monsters achieves makes
this more than plausible. On the one hand Edwards creates a stunning
blockbuster world filled with corruption and all manner of sinister creatures
and on the other he takes a B-movie premise and rams it full Oscar worthy drama,
romance and subtle narrative techniques. Not convinced yet? Well he managed all
this with a budget of roughly just over half a million dollars. To put this
into perspective if you gave Edwards a Michael
Bay
sized budget he could make Monsters 400 times. The likes of James Cameron (Avatar) and Michael Bay should be very worried if the studios catch
wind of this especially considering that Edwards’ crew consisted of him, his
two actors and a soundman.

The
film opens by telling us that 6 years ago a NASA space probe crashed in Mexico,
releasing enormous aliens resembling giant octopi meshed with jellyfish, which
now roam the ‘Infected Zone’. In the here and now photographer Andrew Kaulder (McNairy) is instructed to find his
boss’ daughter, Samantha (Able), and
get her out of Mexico. The problem is when their passports are stolen Andrew
and Samantha have no choice but to travel through the infected zone in order to
reach the USA. What ensues is an odyssey into a fascinating world.

Like
all good sci-fi there is a message to Monsters; here involving Aliens trying to
break into America despite the literal ‘walls’ that have been built around it. More
important though is the sheer force that the American government is willing to
unleash in order to contain these ‘creatures’. For the most part the harm to
human life comes not from the creatures, who if left alone pose little threat,
but the American military who continually bomb and poison the ‘infected’ area
begging the question of how and what it is infected with? The parallels to the current state in Afghanistan are clearly drawn.

However,
these points are secondary to the story of our central characters. Like Spielberg’s War Of The Worlds (2005) the story encompasses a global event but
looks at it through very personal eyes. Those hoping to witness generals in war
rooms barking orders at pilots as they strafe the skies above Mexico will want
to give this film a wide birth. Indeed with six years having passed since the
‘creatures’ arrival most people take them for granted. Constant news footage of
them, in the background, is, for the most part, the only glimpses we ever see
of the creatures. Instead we are witness to a hugely intimate story of a
blossoming relationship that just happens to have aliens as a circumstantial
sub-plot. Edwards’ script wonderfully allows the Monsters of the title to
comment on and echo the main story. Essentially these Monsters are roaming
Mexico looking to mate with each other, a delicate and powerful scene towards
the end sees two of these behemoths performing a balletic mating ritual that
echoes the ‘dance’ around that our two characters have performed throughout.

Shot,
again by Edwards acting as cameraman and cinematographer as well as director,
with a hand-held intimacy allows us to feel like we are quietly studying these
two people just as Andrew wants to study the Monsters themselves. The dialogue,
for the most part improvised, is familiar and incidental but always loaded with
sub-text.

Not
only does the dialogue draw you into the relationship but also the stunning
performances of the two leads. Real life partners Able and McNairy, who married
while promoting the film, are heartbreakingly convincing as a couple who feel
that they are from two different worlds. As Samantha, Able brings a wide-eyed
innocence that belies her inner turmoil. Meanwhile McNairy, used to this
improvised style thanks to his turn in In
Search Of A Midnight Kiss
(2007), brings a feeling of desperation hidden
within a proud exterior. The chemistry between the two is a crucial ingredient
to how the film effortlessly draws you in so completely.

Visually
stunning, emotionally involving and all done on a less money than most
commercials are made for, Monsters has the potential to be every bit as big a
game changer as Avatar. Edwards is currently prepping his next film in the
shape of a giant lizard called Godzilla,
if he manages to inject half as much heart and overwhelming sub-text into that
as he does with Monsters then it will be a must see. As for Monsters it is a
must see, bask in its glory then see again and again. Not since Frankenstein have Monsters evoked so much pathos.

To Buy Monsters On DVD Go Here Or On Blu-Ray Go Here

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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