Reviewed by Heather Wixson
Starring Whitney Able, Scoot McNairy
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Distributed by Magnet Releasing
In the world of Monsters, the aliens have already arrived on Earth via a crashed NASA probe that was sent into space to collect evidence of new life forms. When the probe hits the Earth, the samples within the probe soon infect everything around it, creating an “infected zone” somewhere between the US and Mexico borders. Both governments struggle to keep the aliens contained as they adapt into 20 foot tall octopus-like creatures that wreak havoc and terror as they travel through the lush jungle landscapes.
At the start of film, we meet jaded journalist Andrew (McNairy) who gets hired to ensure the safe travels of Samantha (Able), a wealthy US tourist, back to her country after a close encounter that leaves her shaken and wanting the comforts of home on the other side of the border. When she’s unable to travel back to the US through the usual passport means, both Samantha and Andrew set off for an incredible journey through the infected zone in order to return home.
Throughout their travels, they face insurmountable odds and deal with their own personal demons as the two strangers draw closer together through their experiences. We learn that Andrew is longing to reconnect with his son and that Samantha is yearning to break free of her privileged life. During the epic final scenes of the movie, we see how both have grown because of their journey in a heartbreaking sequence that is interwoven with the main characters’ own close call with the alien creatures looming above them as they try to hide from danger.
Monsters isn’t your traditional sci-fi horror epic, rather it’s more of a subtle character study set within the context of this new world where aliens are an actuality and no longer something we go to movies to see. These aliens, created by writer/director Edwards, are stunning examples of CG done right and are enough reason to seek out Monsters theatrically on the 29th rather than watching the flick from the comfort of your own couch (which you can do now, courtesy of VOD). Visually, there’s a lot going on and it’s quite a feast for the eyes when seen on the big screen.
As a storyteller, Edwards gives fans a very unusual experience for a sci-fi film, as the movie is more about the journey of the main characters than anything else. He also somehow makes the alien creatures powerful yet tragic as they too struggle with their existence on a planet they never asked to be trapped on. Monsters isn’t about epic battle sequences or big explosions but rather, it’s a film about everyone’s need for acceptance. In the simplest of terms, Monsters is like The Signal meets District 9.
Overall, if you’re looking for a raucous shoot-em-up style alien flick, Monsters isn’t for you. However, if you’re interested in engaging storytelling amidst some of the most visually striking cinematography and visual f/x work I’ve experienced since 2006’s Children of Men, then I highly encourage you to seek out Monsters when it comes to limited theaters on October 29th.
4 1/2 out of 5
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