Monsters (Blu-ray / DVD)
Reviewed 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 ...
...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.
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.
3 1/2 out of 5
4 1/2 out of 5
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