"'Monsters' is one of the most overlooked movies of 2010." – Movie Review

To the list of the great overlooked movies of 2010 add “Monsters,” a clever sci-fi affected romance come road movie; a first feature from British director Gareth Edwards. With elements of “District 9,” “Cloverfield” and “Jaws,” “Monsters” is the kind of first feature that ensures a long and fruitful career for its creator.

Set in the future, in Mexico, “Monsters” tells us that a NASA probe seeking proof alien life forms on a planet called Europa, crash landed on its return to earth and spread debris over Northern Mexico. Amongst the debris apparently was the alien life form which spread over a wide area that has become the infected zone.

In Mexico, Caulder (Scoot McNairy) is an American photographer on assignment from a major news organization. His goal is to capture on film one of these amazing, allegedly destructive alien creatures. However, Caulder's assignment is interrupted when his boss forces him to accompany his daughter Sam (Whitney Able) to the coastline where a boat will take her back to America.

Naturally, these two will bond but as played by newcomers McNairy and Able the romance evolves in subtle and natural ways. Director Edwards, who wrote the script and handled the special effects, takes great care to give equal weight to the burgeoning romance and the sci-fi plotting and each serves to give weight to the other.


Shot on a budget of around 500 grand, “Monsters” has surprisingly strong special effects. The creatures glimpsed mostly at night glimmer like the floating creatures in Cameron's “Avatar” and walk with realistic feel of the Prawns in “District 9.” It's a remarkable achievement and one that deserves more acclaim than the film has thus far received.

At heart, “Monsters” is an exceptionally human story. Caulder and Sam are archetypes of characters we've seen before but director-writer Edwards gives his unknown actors enough room to move within these characters that they become real and highly sympathetic. The love story is underplayed yet quite compelling as the obstacles that emerge between the two are overcome by circumstance and real emotional bonding.

“Monsters” has an ease to it that other similar films fail to create. By forgoing the need for gratuitous carnage, a temptation most other films cannot escape, “Monsters” feels more genuine and the little carnage there is has meaning and sorrow attached to it.

It's a shame that “Monsters,” along with another film arriving on DVD the same day, also with a very different approach to a sci-fi plot, “Never Let Me Go,” was so badly overlooked. These are the kinds of daring approaches to genre movies that need our encouragement and reward our investment of time and money.
















BYLINE:

Sean Patrick Kernan is a film critic. Check him out at: http://www.myspace.com/number1ramjamfan Email Sean at sean@zoiksonline.com.
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