John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews


Genre: Drama

Director: Gareth Edwards

Cast: Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able, Mario Zuniga Benavides

MPAA-Rating: R

Release Date: October 29th, 2010

“We are sitting right outside looking in, patient
” notes Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy), hospital
a photographer traveling through a “quarantined zone” between the United States and Mexico in the 2010 drama Monsters. In a way, Sildenafil
that quote summarizes the set-up of this science fiction film that portrays characters who are often sitting on the sidelines of an alien invasion.

As the feature notes at the beginning, NASA has found that alien life may exist in our solar system. A probe sent to investigate the possibility has exploded over New Mexico and much of Mexico and the United States have been quarantined as the creatures have settled in and attacked many of the citizens located in this massive isolated region. Andrew, who only wants to take photographs of the situation to sell  to his employer, is tasked with escorting his boss’ daughter Samantha (Whitney Able) back to the United States from the area south of the quarantined zone.

Andrew wants nothing to do with it but accepts the assignment for the sake of his budding career.

After her passport goes missing and the duo run into some issues, they travel together through the quarantined zone where the carnage of the monster attacks are evident. The monsters are seldom seen but their impact is felt throughout as the duo witness memorial services for those who have died during the “invasion.”

Likely caused by some of the film’s budget limitations, writer/director Gareth Edwards opts to focus more on the characters than on the attacks or the monsters themselves. Because of that, the monsters are felt more than seen and when they are seen, their movements are subtly disquieting (and more realistic than other such monster movies where special effects overwhelm the story). During a boat ride over the course of the trip, Edwards is smart enough to revel in a monster sighting that is as potent as it is awe-inspiring. The monster, in this case, is introduced by the carnage it has left behind before his physical manifestation even appears.

The acting duo who lead this story do a strong job in presenting their sometimes-cliched characters in a new light. The unlikely duo of an independent male paired with a rich woman has been seen oftentimes before (Star Wars, for instance, featured the unlikely pairing of Princess Leia and Han Solo). But here, such characters seem fresh because they are presented as more detailed and insightful people who are torn by the decisions they make along the way. Andrew, for one, sees the pain he profits from (a picture of a kid killed by a monster is worth $50,000, he notes) but continues to do it arguing that doctors also profit from other people’s misery.

Monsters is a surprisingly strong movie for newcomer Gareth Edwards (whose Godzilla is in theaters now). It is a subtle and smart drama that embraces its characters and their obvious flaws. In telling the story from an “outside” angle (rather than in the heat of the fight), he creates a realistic nature here that feels more true-to-life than many other monster movies.

Review by: John Hanlon