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Monsters (Blu-ray / DVD)

Monsters on Blu-ray and DVDReviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Whitney Able, Scoot McNairy

Directed by Gareth Edwards

Distributed by Magnet Releasing


When word first broke about Gareth Edwards’ Monsters, I in particular was ecstatic. I love monster movies. I especially love giant monster movies. It looked as if fans like myself just hit pay dirt. Upon watching it … not so much.

After having found traces of life, a NASA space probe returns to Earth and ends up crashing over Central America, thereby “contaminating” the area with large squid-like creatures that would have any Cthulhu fan smiling from ear-to-ear. Six years later a news tycoon’s daughter (Able) ends up wandering about the infected portion of Mexico as a means to spite her father. Thankfully said tycoon has a reporter in the area (McNairy), whom he taxes with the challenge of getting his little princess home safe and sound. Of course things don’t go as planned, and our duo ends up taking the long dangerous route home.

In a nutshell that’s our story, and it works perfectly. There’s just one problem: When a movie is titled Monsters, you’d expect … well … monsters to be in it. While the beasties are present and accounted for, their screen time is minimal at best. Instead we’re treated to the tale of our protagonists falling in love. Yep, this, dearest reader, plays more like a chick flick that happens to have creatures in it than it does anything else. The first half of the movie is home to some really cool bits that will keep you glued to the screen, but by the time the relationship part rears its head, things head down the road to Sappy-ville in a hurry. To make matters even worse …

Monsters on Blu-ray and DVDSPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to know the ending, skip the next paragraph!

…once our monsters do show up, instead of the danger-laden showdown we were waiting the whole movie for, they end up hugging and then moving along. Really? The creatures embraced to show their sensitive side? Somebody please get me a Gamera flick or something immediately to wash this nauseatingly “sweet” moment out of my mouth.

END SPOLIERS

In terms of home video packages, there are three available: bare bones DVD, two-disc DVD, and special edition Blu-ray. In 1080p Monsters looks surprisingly stunning given the fact that Edwards shot the entire thing hand-held minus a lighting rig. The only time the image suffers is during the night scenes, which look especially noisy given the absence of a supplemental light source. Where the Blu-ray really shines, however, is with the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track. Two words … holy shit. Monsters gets my vote for having the soundscape of the year! There are times where if you close your eyes you could almost imagine yourself wading through the lush jungles. Truly immersive and outstanding stuff.

Also outstanding is the amount of extra features included here. A great commentary with Gareth Edwards and stars Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able opens the floodgates for a boatload of stuff including twenty minutes of deleted and extended scenes, in-depth interviews with the cast and the director, over an hour long behind-the-scenes featurette, a look at the film’s impressively used effects, a featurette discussing finding the heart of the movie (yuck), an HDNet mini-featurette, and even Edwards’ New York Comic Con appearance. If you are a fan of this film, Magnet has delivered to you a gift of the highest quality.

Let me be clear … Monsters is indeed a good movie. It’s just not a very good monster movie. If you’re cool with that and don’t mind the romance aspect of the flick, there’s a lot to like here. Speaking only for myself, it just wasn’t what I wanted. I would imagine there are others who will feel the same exact way. Bottom line? Know what you’re getting into.

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary with Gareth Edwards, Scoot McNairy, and Whitney Able
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • Behind-the-Scenes of Monsters featurette
  • Monsters: The Edit featurette
  • Visual Effects
  • Interview with Gareth Edwards
  • Interview with Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able
  • New York Comic Con Discussion with Gareth Edwards
  • HDNet: A Look at Monsters
  • Trailers

    Film

    3 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features

    4 1/2 out of 5

    Discuss Monsters in the comments section below!

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    • Terminal

      The whole point of the ending to me was just examining these beings as just living and loving as we the humans are. By the end they realize that whether we like it or not the monsters are here to stay and they’re going to dominate the Earth along with us so we have to co-exist. I actually loved Monsters.
      ———-
      “We are bad guys. That means we’ve got more to do other than bullying companies. It’s fun to lead a bad man’s life.”

      • Uncle Creepy

        I fully understood the point of the ending, but its something we’ve seen done to death already, and done much better without the sappy romance subplot.

        • Sirand

          But that’s just it: MONSTERS is sap-free. The relationship drama is played for realism. It sounds like you expected this to be some sort of kaiju flick. I have a few issues with this film too, but to call it “a chick flick” is to completely miss the point.

          On a side note, it’s pretty impressive that Edwards did all the creatures and apocalyptic imagery on his own home computer.

          • Uncle Creepy

            We just see it two different ways, dude. Like I said, Monsters is a good movie, just not a good monster movie. For me that’s a pretty accurate account.

          • Vanvance1

            I’d say the relationship is played with some extremely natural moments; at the same time neither I nor the woman I saw the film with believed in their connection.

            It’s an interesting first effort but doesn’t feel complete or fully realized in any way.

        • GJW

          Sappy romance subplots suck sticky balls.

          —————————————————-
          “I have all the characteristics of a human being.Blood, flesh,skin,hair;but not a single,clear,identifiable emotion,except for greed and disgust.”

        • Messiahman

          Done to death?

          Just curious… where? This wasn’t simply a case of “who are the real monsters” – the title seems to be ironic in that it actually points out that there are NO monsters. We’re all just beings making our way in the universe. Everything is subjective. The aliens, just like the humans, just wanted to live, survive and find happiness – it’s pointed out that they’re only aggressive when attacked. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen many genre movies out there that address these themes, much less do it so eloquently.

          And I’m with Andrew – it’s sap free.

          I’ll take a movie this emotionally resonant, layered and provocative over a redundant Kaiju smash-up (which we HAVE seen done to death) any day. This was that rare refreshing genre film that was actually ABOUT something.

          An absolutely superb film all the way around.

    • Vanvance1

      I’m a little surprised to see how many knives this film earned despite the body of the text.

      Overall I found the film disappointing. The movie lacks any kind of momentum for the majority of it’s running time and the end offers a ‘so what’ kind of moment.

      The theme of ‘who is the monster’ has been so overdone in horror (from Frankenstein to NOTLD) that this is an ancient tired conceit more than a thoughtful one.

      • Uncle Creepy

        Just because the movie wasn’t my cup of tea, doesn’t mean I can’t recognize it as a good movie. There’s a lot to like about it. It just wasn’t for me.

    • Sirand

      Creepy, you are waaaaay too jaded…

      That moment at the end was incredibly BEAUTIFUL. It’s the heart of the film.

      • Uncle Creepy

        Oh go break your fucking fourth wall somewhere. 😉 I want monsters in my Monsters movie. This was like Cloverfield with likable characters with even less creature action.

    • LifeMi

      Creepy, I have a question about Monsters; based on this film, what do you think of Gareth Edwards directing the new Godzilla?

      • Uncle Creepy

        Given how good the opening was alone I’d say we’re in for a real treat!

        • LifeMi

          Sweet. I’ll have to take a look at it myself.

    • MagusMaleficus

      Well, think about it: are the creatures really monsters, as in the meaning we usually apply to the word? No. But do the humans treat them like they are? Yes. So who are the real monsters? Kinda like “The Walking Dead” doesn’t just refer to the zombies munching on the living. Maybe I’m just talking out of my ass, I don’t know.

      • The Woman In Black

        You nailed it actually.

      • Uncle Creepy

        Totally, that is the underlying message of the movie for sure, but it just didn’t work for me given all of the other extraneous elements.

    Steve Barton

    You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.