Saturday, 19 March 2011

Monsters (2010) - Gareth Edwards

Hmm, I'm a little torn as to what I actually thought of this film. On the one hand I thought it looked proper nice, Edwards is a visual effects bod and for a first effort this is quite a calling card. It looks a treat and given his background it's no surprise that the effects are top notch, the sort of CGI that supports the story rather than driving it. With everything effects wise being nicely integrated into the background of the film, instead of the in your face attitude of most directors. But Edwards' weakness is the story itself, which is so full of holes that it ruins the film somewhat. But we'll get to that later…

Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy, and yes that's Scoot, not Scott) is an American photojournalist working in Central America. He's told to make sure that Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able) makes it to the local port so that she can catch the ferry back to The States. Since she's the boss's daughter he has little say in the matter, so off they go. For various reasons they don't make it onto the boat, so they have to travel back home via Mexico instead. Fair enough, except this is set in the nearly future and Mexico is now a huge quarantine area, a total no go zone since it's populated by aliens. You can see where it's going can't you? Young couple, him rough and ready, her a princess, thrown together, roughing it in the wild, trying to get home. It's The African Queen, but with giant squid monsters instead of Nazi's.

Which is all well and good, but I think calling it Monsters and having a poster campaign that is very nudgey nudgey winky winky to District 9 is only asking for trouble. This isn't War of the Worlds or Cloverfield, it's far more about how the two leads fall for each other. Well that and the oh not at all subtle metaphor of aliens in Mexico, trying to get across the American border. So I think this is going to rile a fair few people that are expecting something more action packed.

Anyway onto those plot holes, and this might be a good place to look away if you haven't seen the film. For a start why not just fly home? Surely even flying to Europe from Central America and then on to The States from there beats walking through a war zone, doesn't it? Then there are a myriad of other oddities, such as why the guy who sets up their trip through the forbidden zone accepts a diamond ring in lieu of $10,000, when he'd already turned down a camera? Why did Andrew have her passport? Why did the girl that nicked it, not have it on her toes with his camera too? Why is there a Mayan pyramid in a jungle on the American border? Why did the huge great wall on the border have a road running through it? And so on.

Despite the above points though I still really enjoyed this, it's a silly film that could have been so much better with just a little more attention paid at the script writing stage. The two leads are fine, but quite unbelievable, a photojournalist with a conscience who when he does get the chance for that once in a lifetime photo, decides to stand there open mouthed in awe at what is happening in front of him. Hmph. Still if Gareth Edwards ever gets his hands on a decent script there'll be no stopping him.

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