Sunday, 12 December 2010

FILM REVIEW: Monsters


Once again, sucked in by the good reviews. Monsters has to be one of the biggest disappointments of the year.

It's not as if I was going in thinking that this was going to be an action film with spectacular set-pieces and special effects, but I thought at least it would be on a par with Cloverfield: lots of tension, lots of mystery, lots of twists and turns. Monsters had none of this, and even if it was trying to be more of a love story stroke road trip movie, at least make the characters likable for God's sake, or throw up the odd surprise.

Photographer Andrew is asked by his boss whilst in Mexico to bring back his daughter after she is injured in an attack by one of the inhabiting 'creatures'. Annoyed as he wants to stay and capture some images of the otherworldly beings, his job is a priority and so after finding Sam they set off to go back to America. However after being robbed in a cheap hotel, the two can no longer afford a ferry back to their homeland and have to risk being chaperoned by locals across the 'infected zone' - the home of the monsters.

So many lacklustre things I'm not sure where to begin. The poor (deliberate?) lighting and sound of the film made a lot of dialogue inaudible and many of the scenes impossible to decipher - the most exciting moment of the film when their entourage is attacked in the infected zone was in almost pitch darkness, so the affect of teasing the audience with little snippets of action wasn't even achieved. I could understand what the director was trying to do - sometimes the scariest thing can be when you can't see but can only hear the danger - but it doesn't make for a very thrilling experience for the audience. Perhaps they should have thrown in a few more blood curdling screams or inhuman noises and taken out some of the octopussy tentacles.

I could not have cared any less about the main characters of Andrew and Samantha - both were bland, selfish, contrite, arrogant. Considering the two actors are now married it's astonishing their chemistry was so weak. The predictability of their 'romance' only exasperated me further (they hate each other but will soon love each other) and their coming together at the end after sharing the magical moment of a sexy monster cuddle (ahem) was just ridiculous. Just kill them both! Selling her engagement ring to buy them both ferry tickets...zzzzzzzz. I could not root for them one iota. The scene where Sam runs off to the harbour after believing Andrew has slept with a girl was completely absurd:

"What are you doing?"
"Getting on the ferry."
"Then why aren't you?"
"Because you have my passport."

WHAT? Why did you run off then, you silly mare? It was so ludicrously off-kilter it made me wonder if Gareth Edwards had had a little snooze during editing. The monsters themselves didn't rise to the challenge either - they weren't powerful enough to be terrifying, and they weren't victimised enough to be sympathetic.

I'll concede it was beautifully arty (when you could see what was going on), and I liked the way the monsters had integrated themselves into everyday life, so all that was happening around them was almost normal. But this also worked against the film as the blasé attitude of the characters meant the suspense level never shifted from zero.

Certainly a different take on the genre, Monsters is only interesting on paper. The five star reviews baffle me, as this is a film that deserves only a shrug and no recommendation from me. A sad waste of money.


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