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Friday, May 9, 2014

Review: MONSTERS (2010)

Another day, another film checked off the BIG LIST.

Today's movie is Monsters (2010).

I'll go first:
I've seen Monsters before, but this time, I was watching it with a predictive eye.  I was watching it fully cognizant that Gareth Edwards directed this and he's directed the new Godzilla, too.   
Understanding that Edwards had a bigger cast and a bigger budget at his disposal for Godzilla, my outlook for the new film is positive based almost solely on this movie.  (It was already positive thanks to all the awesome trailers, but, you know.) 
In the world of Monsters, a probe crashed to Earth six years prior, spreading spores over most of Mexico.  We follow a photographer, Andrew Kaulder, who's tasked with bringing his boss' daughter, Sam Wynden, back to the States after she was injured in an attack by the "creatures." 
Let's talk cast and characters.  Sam is likeable and sympathetic.  She's great.  Kaulder, however, is a moronic douche.  If it were a character trait, his douchebaggery would be annoying but acceptable.  But his moron tendencies defy logic.  It has to be a product of the script. 
He's a photographer in a virtual war zone and had been there for some time.  He doesn't speak a lick of Spanish.  That's OK.  Maybe he studied French in high school.  But he didn't study any before going to Central America?  Didn't pick up any while he was there?  Nor, apparently, did he get any pointers on avoiding the oldest trick in the book when it comes to robbery by prostitute (or strange women).   
Also, as they're strolling through the middle of the forbidden zone, he has the stupefying nerve to ask why his guides are carrying guns.  Even better, after witnessing the aftermath of American chemical weapon bombing, he asks why people are putting on gas masks.  It's ridiculous.  He should have died.  He annoyed me. 
Anyway.  The creatures themselves.  Very cool.  Yes, they look like glowy octopuses, but they also have smaller tentacles that tend to hover and wave in very disturbing ways.  Creepy.  Plus, they follow the Jaws method of ratcheting tension by not showing them too much.  (And knowing that Edwards did the special effects on his own makes them even more impressive.)
With an eye toward Godzilla, it's interesting to think about the story structure and how he balances the monster stuff with the human stuff (and with the "issue" stuff).   
"Issue" stuff?  Like the bombings by Americans and the use of chemical weapons (a la Agent Orange) to stop the alien spores from latching on to trees.  The issue is presented along with the impact, but we're not preached to on the subject.  I appreciate that. 
The monster stuff is well spaced out and, as previously mentioned, revealed in doses throughout the film.  They're properly scary at times, beautiful at other times, and there's some decent action glimpsed at ... a limitation of the small budget, I'm sure. 
The people stuff ... other than the aforementioned Kaulder, everyone's great.  Not just Sam, but all of the people they encounter on the way.  The people trying to eke out an existence as the world around them is attacked and falls apart.  It's well done, too. 
A couple of other things I've noticed, Edwards seems to like shots of glowing battle on the other side of mountains.  He also seems to like glowing things attached to other things: 

Monsters ... a good portent.  3.75 out of five atomic breath blasts.
James' turn:
Well, this one is special. This one is special because the same director is directing the new Godzilla movie. The only thing bad about this is that this was not a total monster movie for me because we rarely got to see them and there were other things going on. And when we did see two monsters together, they were having sex or something. 
So, rating wise, i'll say 3.35 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!!
Here's the trailer:

Up next, Pacific Rim.

(GIFs from speedrasir, virtuosovillain and digressiveblog)

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