Saturday, March 19, 2011

Monsters (2010)

I read recently that Gareth Edwards was picked to helm the new American Godzilla movie, based on his work on the film Monsters. Having never seen it, I decided it was a good choice for this week's Friday Night Fright.

The basic premise is that after a NASA deep space probe contacts alien life and crashes to earth, the alien life forms start to spread across Mexico, resulting in an area known as the Infected Zone between the US and non-infected Mexico. However, this movie doesn't take place during the outbreak, it takes place well after it, when everything is semi-stabilized and people are trying to live with the fact that giant things could crush them should they go near the zone.

This brings us to Andrew and Samantha, the photojournalist and the daughter of his employer who he is sent to bring back to the US. Conventional routes are closed or closing off and expensive, but Andrew manages to buy Samantha a ticket on a ferry back home. Unfortunately, due to some bad luck, he manages to screw that up and they're forced to find an alternate route home through the Infected Zone, a place where death is most likely going to find them.

Monsters is less an action movie and almost more of a travelogue, as we follow the protagonists as they journey through a land of giants. Newbies to the culture around the monsters as well, we get to discover the world of the Infected Zone with them as they try to get home, seeing the devastation wrought by both man and monster as they struggle for dominance. Its a really enjoyable one too. The main characters are likable despite their flaws (he's kind of a lech and she's kinda spoiled) and you find yourself rooting for them to make it through alive, much better than Cloverfield, where I was hoping the dvd would just break in half while watching it, since both man and monster in that one were terrible.

The monster designs are interesting, kind of like an undersea type of animal or the big walkers from out of The Mist, or maybe Phyrexia. They have crab legs and tentacles and a big glowing brain/heart thing that looks awesome. You see them in flashes at first and then get some good looks at them and they're impressive, especially for the low budget of the film. Sci-fi channel, take note--this is how you do creatures.

If his Godzilla movie is half as good as Monsters, I'll be pleased, as Edwards has the ability to balance human drama and monster attacks almost perfectly. Check it out.

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