Friday, April 01, 2011

"Monsters" is your artsy monster movie

There was a ton of indie buzz around "Monsters", the low budget movie about aliens that are living on our planet.  I was very happy to learn that I could watch this film on Netflix watch instantly, and in HD no less!  I had my daughter in my arms and sat down to dig in and sat in relative awe for the entire film.  It wasn't always the good awe, but it was awe nonetheless.

"Monsters" is about two Americans who have to get back to America fast.  The only issue is because of a series of events, they have to travel through "the infected zone".  This is a section where alien life has run rampant in Mexico and the U.S. has even built a wall to keep the aliens out.  These are giant creatures that are being held back in the zone that continues to expand south of the border.  There is a ton of symbolism to be had and this movie would have been better served sticking to that path.  It begins to derail when love enters the mix.

The two Americans played by relatively unknown actors Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able are the two tasked with crossing the alien filled wilderness.  It is set up in a not very subtle way that maybe they will get together latter in the film.  ***SPOILER ALERT*** They do.  And in a not very creative way.  Once again a male/female pairing who are in peril end up falling for each other by the end of the film.  It was entirely unnecessary and completely distracted from the film.  The only reason I can see for this pairing is to explain the last section of the movie.  I won't bring it up so you can see for yourself, but the message I got out of it was lazy.  It sort of tied into the rest of the political overtones that were in the first part of the film, but for the most part took a great idea and pooped on it.

The special effects are actually pretty cool.  The Monsters are quite neat to look at.  They are intimidating and beautiful all at the same time.  Even with the low budget they look like they were done very well which is something I always thought could happen.  Who says special effects need to cost a ton of money to look great?  Sure there are low budget films that miss the mark (I'm looking at you, "Skyline") but this is one of those refreshing films that uses it's budget wisely.

This movie polarized me.  I liked what the camera was filming, but I hated the camera work.  When characters are sitting still, you don't need the shaky-cam.  A three year old could hold the camera more steady.  I liked the characters, but didn't like the acting.  Forcing "non-acted" dialogue to make it seem more natural is much harder than it sounds people.  Finally, I liked the idea and was sad that it wasn't a better movie.  Should you see it?  Yes!  I want to encourage low budget films that try hard but just miss the mark.  This isn't a fast paced movie that relies heavily on the action and eye candy to keep us interested.  There is nothing wrong with those movies sometimes, but I like a film that tries to tell a story...even if it is a little silly.

6 out of 10 stars

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