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Monsters (2011)

After Six Years, They're No Longer Aliens. They're Residents.

Starring:

Annalee Jefferies

Anthony Cristo

Emigo Munkel

Jonathan Winnford

Jorge Quirs

Justin Hall

k Arce

Kerry Valderrama

Mario Richardson

Mario Zuniga Benavides

Paul Archer

Ricky Catter

Scoot McNairy

Stan Wong

Whitney Able

Directed by:

Gareth Edwards

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 94 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 12A

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom

Mexico has been left as a quarantine zone after a space probe sent by the Americans into space to find alien life crash landed in Taco-land with an extra-terrestrial motherload. Andrew Kaulder (the awesomely named Scoot McNairy), a cynical US journalist, is left to escort his boss’s vulnerable and beautiful tourist daughter (Able) out of the infected zone before the boats and trains inconsiderately stop leaving the area. Safe to say, Kaulder mucks up the simple plan and the new movie-length plan means there’s a lot longer, more perilous journey ahead of them.

Monsters is a slow burner of a film which can be considered a low-key companion piece to District 9. There are the fairly unsubtle allegories about a privileged mainstream society looking down on another (this time it’s the US and the Mexicans) and a clever take on an alternate future world very different from our own but this time without the all-out action finale. This is all about the journey, which may leave some disappointed by a lack of action, but it’s very well told and in the end, not much needs to happen when it doesn’t happen as elegantly as this.

The characterisation is excellent here as we have two flawed, yet pleasant individuals and we watch their relationship unfold throughout the film. Kaulder makes mistakes and seems unlikeable at first but he comes across as a nice chap and really cares what happens to a perma-blond babysitting assignment that has a lot more behind her bob than you’d expect at first. The jungle landscape – which wouldn’t look out of place in a Herzog or Coppola epic – also plays its part as it gives the story a much needed change of context and it’s strange how Gareth Edwards, a master of CGI, uses it so sparingly and so subtly that it never garishly draws attention to itself.

Overall, Edwards has given us an intelligent, fascinating road movie with a bunch of unknowns that’s beautifully understated and a cut above many other similar efforts.

It's Got: Believable characterisation, refreshingly ungarish special effects, a woman who's impossible to make angry

It Needs: For you not to pay attention to the slightly misleading trailers and advertising, a more subtle epiphany at the end

DVD Extras An entertaining, anecdotal commentary, a few pointless deleted scenes and a rather shallow making of featurette - a mixed bag DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Summary

Gareth Edwards has created an understated and enjoyable sci-fi movie that doesn’t feel the need to pander to the staples of the aliens-on-earth-genre. Strangely, a film that’s more about people than monsters. Deep, man, deep.

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