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Monsters Movie Review

Title: Monsters

Directed By: Gareth Edwards

Starring: Whitney Able, Scoot McNairy

Something needs to be made clear concerning Monsters immediately; it is not a monster movie. If you walk into this one expecting a barrage of massive man-eating creatures, you’ll be disappointed. There are some monsters, but they’re far from the focus of this unbelievably low budget production. Monsters is more of a love story than anything, a love story with gigantic glowing octopi in the background.

Monsters kicks off six years after a NASA space probe carrying samples of alien life forms is destroyed while attempting to reenter the earth’s atmosphere over Mexico. Strange creatures began to appear and a large section of the country was quarantined and deemed the “Infected Zone.” Scoot McNairy stars as Andrew Kaulder, a photojournalist based in Mexico paid the big bucks for snapping shots of post-creature attack carnage until he’s assigned to escort his boss’ daughter, Samantha (Whitney Able), back home after she’s injured. He isn’t thrilled about the gig, but agrees to take her to the Mexican border of the Infected Zone where she can hop on a ferry and return to the states. But of course, things don’t go as planned and Sam and Kaulder wind up resorting to the more dangerous travel route, straight through the Infected Zone.

The movie may be called Monsters, but don’t expect to see too many. A good chunk of the beginning of the film focuses on Sam and Kaulder’s trek to the ferry port. They ride a train, visit impoverished locals and see some creature attacks on the news, but nothing is particularly compelling. Even when they reach the water and the Jurassic Park-like Infected Zone fence looms in the background, there’s nothing too exciting minus a few fighter jet fly-bys.

It isn’t until the duo is deep into the jungle that we finally find ourselves in the midst of a monster ambush and it’s a fantastic scene. Even though we don’t get any long hard looks at the beast, its terrifying presence is furiously evident as is the fear in the leads. But the most gripping moment in the sequence isn’t even the actual attack, it’s the aftermath. There’s just enough bloodshed to purport the gravity of their situation, but not so much that it feels as though it’s just there solely for the intended effect.

In fact, much of the terror in Monsters comes not from gore, shouting, gunfire and gruesome creatures, but from the elements we don’t see. One particularly disconcerting component is how cavalier everyone is about the circumstances. There are huge beasts armed with deadly tentacles out for blood, but citizens aren’t too concerned. This works quite well in the beginning of the film, making Sam and Kaulder seem as though they’re helpless and alone, however, the attitude that having extra terrestrial neighbors is nothing new ultimately collides with the monster’s brutality. If these creatures pose such a serious threat to mankind, people should be fleeing continents, not just keeping their fingers crossed a wall will keep them out.

The only other element that might not sit right with moviegoers is the absence of monsters. Monsters isn’t really a monster movie, it’s a love story. The situation in Mexico merely serves as a background for the budding road trip romance brewing between Kaulder and Sam. As a romance film, Monsters is quite successful particularly because it doesn’t follow the typical love story formula. There are quite a handful of roadblocks keeping the two from just falling for one another and getting on with it from Kaulder’s initial disapproval of being taken away from his work and paired with Sam to her engagement to the whole monster situation. All of these elements and more combine to create a whirlwind of an environment forcing our leading duo to act impulsively and exactly how’d you expect two people to behave if they were actually thrown into that situation.

The only reason one could have for writing off Monsters completely is if that person is hell bent on seeing an actual monster movie. Between the film’s title and promotion material, it’s nearly impossible to walk in without at least an inkling of hope of seeing some ET action and when writer director Gareth Edwards doesn’t deliver, it will be disappointing. There’s almost no escaping a slight degree of dissatisfaction concerning the lack of beastly action, however, if you’re able to look beyond those preconceived expectations, Monsters still has a lot to offer.

Technical: A-

Story: B

Acting: A-

Overall: B+

By Perri Nemiroff

Monsters Poster

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Film producer and director best known for her work in movies such as FaceTime, Trevor, and The Professor. She has worked as an online movie blogger and reporter for sites such as CinemaBlend.com, ComingSoon.net, Shockya, and MTV's Movies Blog.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Syntheticmode

    September 30, 2010 at 12:32 am

    B+?? Should be a HUGE F. Major failure.
    Lets tear apart this review….
    There are huge beasts armed with deadly tentacles out for blood, but citizens aren’t too concerned. This works quite well in the beginning of the film, making Sam and Kaulder seem as though they’re helpless and alone, however, the attitude that having extra terrestrial neighbors is nothing new ultimately collides with the monster’s brutality.”
    Brutality? In the ONE scene where are central characters come close to the aliens, the aliens are more interested in the television and once that's unplugged…they simply leave.

    “As a romance film, Monsters is quite successful particularly because it doesn’t follow the typical love story formula.”
    You bet your ass it doesn't. Its stupid. She's engaged. He doesn't care and tries PATHETICALLY to get her into bed. She turns him down and he goes and finds some skank to bang instead. So, the next morning she becomes jealous/neurotic because of this. They've known each other TWO days. This relationship to be just screams FAILURE before it even starts. He''ll bang anything that walks and she gets neurotic at commitment. Basically, you just don't see any reason for these two to have ANY sort of relationship.

    “Monsters still has a lot to offer.”
    Really? What? Most of the film is spent watching them being bored to death as they travel by car or boat.

    There are MAJOR flaws with this film that make you scoff at how STUPIDLY the people are portrayed. Who in their right minds would go into a jungle infested with aliens that is being carpet bombed my the military with chemical agents? They spent FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS for a boat trip they didn't take. Wouldn't it have been smarter to go south to Brazil and catch a plane? Not only that after risking their lives the fool woman exclaims “I don't want to go home.” I don't know about you, but if I went through all that for nothing, someone is getting hurt….BAD.

    The LIES this reviewer tells to get you to spend your hard earned money on a HORRIBLE movie is shameful. The romance is ludicrous. They behave ignorantly, neurotic and stupid. Once you do see how the aliens behave you are left with the question…who caused all that destruction, us OR them? They didn't even knock over one can in the store at the end of the movie. Its laughable.

    “All of these elements and more combine to create a whirlwind of an environment forcing our leading duo to act impulsively and exactly how’d you expect two people to behave if they were actually thrown into that situation.”
    THIS is a load of bullsh*t. There is no whirlwind. We watch them nap most of the trip. Impulsive…ok, I buy that one. Everyone…even the KIDS have gas masks, but it isn't until they are actually going into the forest that the couple starts to think they might need one. I'm sorry, but if I saw everyone carrying masks….that would be job one for me…getting a mask. Wouldn't you? They are TOO nonchalant and since they are…so is the viewer. We lost interest looking at the stupid tree fungus with LEDs in them to even care by this point.

    Don't listen to this pinhead reviewer…stay far away from this movie. Its a complete fail.

    • seagul_bait

      February 12, 2011 at 12:27 am

      Or you could watch it 'cause it's really good

  2. Roabec

    October 12, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    This movie is just horrible. There is no other way to put it. There are so many things wrong with this movie. This guys review makes it sound likes its worth watching. Its not worth watching. Its pretty much a chick flick a chick wouldn't even like. Acting sucks, and theses roles don't even require much acting. Theres nothing to react to. Nothing happens. Its a road trip movie where nothing interesting happens. The most suspenseful part of the movie is when the crusty old white lady barks at the two main characters…

    Overall just avoid this movie. Even if its free to watch. On that note. I probably hated this movie a little extra because i was really bored and watched the preview to this on x box live and it made it look good. “Best monster movie Ive seen in a long time” they say. “see it before its in theaters”. Long story short, I paid $15.00 to see this movie… I'm special.

  3. xenosman

    October 16, 2010 at 1:59 am

    The reviews below are much better and more accurate than the review you came to this web page to read. I wholeheartedly agree with Syntheticmode. The actors are bored. Relationship? What relationship? “Romance brewing” among the lead actors?

    The spoiler for this movie is that the aliens are the lead actors: men are from Xenos and women are from Eclastopiclorinianian. I think they talked about two things during their journey into love and darkness: laughing and . . . well, I'm sure there was something else. That was way more than enough for their races to fall in love. The love of the two giant alien tentacled things at the end was more touching and meaningful than those of these two in human form.

    And let's not forget the message pounded into us throughout: Americans=bad, ignorant, war-mongering, destructive, gun-toting, distant, wall-building, hateful racists. The rest of the world and aliens=loving, whales, kind, only-trying-to-help, peaceful, awe-inspiring, intelligent, civilized, migratory, and all the other good words anti-human green-earthers use to describe themselves and anything else they approve.

    This reviewer is obviously a shill for the movie. Don't pay any attention; in fact, don't pay at all.

  4. Chilihouse7

    October 17, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    The movie Monsters review. Anyone who writes a good review for this movie is obviously paid to do so. Being hailed as “one of the greatest monster movies in years” is a lie, pure and simple. I've never written a movie review before but I am so mad that I paid to watch this – I should have been paid to watch it! The trailer for this movie doesn't. The paid reviewer says it's a love story. There's nothing about that in the trailer rather it's portrayed very much like a War of the Worlds type movie. With the exception of the wrap around beginning/ending, you don't see any monsters for the first 40 (count them 40!) minutes. The characters are so un-interesting, spanish dialogue with few subtitles The “monsters” look just like giant octopi that swallowed Christmas lights. The story has too many flaws to mention. Just don't pay to see this boring-as-a-box-of-hair movie.

    • seagul_bait

      February 12, 2011 at 12:31 am

      You really rather watch war of the worlds?

  5. JuiceMajor

    December 9, 2010 at 6:46 am

    It's fucking rubbish. The second movie that trick me. The first was Burried! Actually yuo fail to mention if there is some kind of connection between Mexico and America.

    In a way, the movie was more of a documentary of what is going on in Mexico but I don't think there is any war happening there?

  6. Ygyg

    December 15, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Very slow movie. I didn't hate it, but the ending was very abrupt and seemed incomplete. Like the director just wanted to wrap it up. Advertising for movies nowadays is way out of hand. Verdict: 5/10

  7. Noone

    January 10, 2011 at 3:31 am

    It seems no one seen what was going on in this movie :
    – monters from Mexico
    – a huge wall protecting (failing to protect) the US border
    One of the final statement in the movie : “It's not the same looking at your country from the outside…”

    It's no love story, it's about the fear of others, immigrants, walls supposed to protect us, the use of force being useless…

    It's splashed in your face and no one sees it.

    AMAZING.

    • seagul_bait

      February 12, 2011 at 12:30 am

      And how about the title monsters, maybe they should have put a question mark after

    • Vangpo

      January 18, 2012 at 5:51 am

      Because there was nothing to see.

  8. comebewecomebefree

    January 24, 2011 at 8:41 am

    A fantastic film, the best of 2010 in my opinion, which proves that you don't need to rely on copious special effects, gratuitous shots of hideous or bizarre looking aliens and massive explosions every 5 minutes to make a good science fiction film (stand up Avatar).

    This is a film for people whose IQ exceeds double figures; people who are looking for something with an interesting idea and not a quick fix of fire and gore. The special effects are exceptional and the CGI not at any point cartoony (sorry, Avatar again), while the script focuses on what is important – ie the main characters and how their situation affects them. The monsters of the title make their presence and threat known as and when necessary and the conclusion is great.

    What's stunning about this film is that it was made with a small budget and is still great. The only actors are the two leads – the remaining 'cast' are people they and their small crew encountered whilst filming. It's a simple idea and walks all over the other big budget films of the year. On top of this is a simply beautiful score by Jon Hopkins.

    If you like films with intelligent concepts along the line of 'District 9' and a quiet serenity for the most-part like 'Alien' or 'The Fog', then this is for you. If you're only interested in horror and thrills with excessive use of CGI like 'Avatar' or the recent 'Alien' and 'Predator' films then steer clear.

    • Rick

      June 15, 2011 at 4:02 am

      I respect your opinion. It’s a pity you don’t do likewise to others. Monsters is a great feat on such a small budget… but it’s still a poor movie none-the-less. I liked District 9 much better than Avatar. And my IQ exceeds double digits.

  9. seagul_bait

    February 12, 2011 at 12:31 am

    You really rather watch war of the worlds?

  10. Mark

    February 28, 2011 at 12:16 am

    An utter smouldering heap of horsesh*te…. must rate as one of the top 5 worst movies i've seen… maybe higher… wouldn't give it 1/10..

    Boring, pedestrian pace to it (couldn't believe when i looked at the clock and 55 minutes into it NOTHING had happened!!!), utterly ridiculous plot line/premise to it with a bunch of stupid, contrived situations to play out the chick flick relationship element of the movie (and yes, its not really sci fi at all, it was just a vehicle for the relationship plot, anything could have been substituted for the non existant alien bit)… the scenarios were all so lame that i lost any interest or empathy for the characters situation especially as they seemed to act in an increasingly stupid manner at every turn…

    I agree there is probably some BS political agenda buried in there about the wall and immigration from Mexico, and even as an Australian i don't appreciate it… this trend of directors sticking political agendas in movie is utterly shite!!!

    I find it hard to believe that how it finished up is how any of the people involved with it envisaged it from the start, i would have been so disappointed as an actor seeing the final product i would disown it and seek to have it removed from my list of credits… i guess the B or C grade nobodies in it will just claim anything…

    To sum up, utter shite, and the friend that picked it got a bollocking and is now banned for the next several movie nights from choosing the movie!!!!

    • Vangpo

      January 18, 2012 at 5:50 am

      Totally agree. Horrible film.

  11. B.p

    March 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I don’t see whats so bad about it, a low budget movie, I donated an hour and forty minutes of my life to watching this, and I’m satisfied.

    It’s a movie, you either enjoy it or you don’t.

    I sat down without thinking about the reviews, and let myself feel the movie, and truthfully It kept my hooked, I’m not paid to write this review, and I’m broke.

    I like movies, and I enjoy watching movies, and I’ve seen CRAPPY Movies in my life, this is not a crap movie, and the detail of the movie seemed very realistic to me, so Try this movie and give it a chance, and don’t be hardcore about it.

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