Monsters: Lost in Transmutation

There is a long held opinion around the watercooler at the Blammo offices and it’s one of the few things we all agree on, Monster movies should deal with the struggle of a few people instead of tackling the big picture.

The average armchair viewer can’t feel empathy towards the military man who single-handedly destroys the alien threat, but they can draw some parallels with their own lifestyle if the hero of a monster movie is a fat bloke who’s trying to save himself. Cloverfield was a fine example of this theory in action. YES! A monster was attacking New York, but what the fuck were a bunch of rich kids from Brooklyn going to do about it? Nothing! Instead of following a story about how a space alien was delt with by the military we had a movie about how a bunch of friends saved a really hot girl and attempted to get evacuated like everyone else.

The trailer for “Monsters” features an attractive girl and rough world traveller looking fellow running through a district 9 style “infected” Mexican landscape filmed on shaky handheld camera whilst tentacled aliens are hinted at in quick flashes, between gunfire, sirens, helicopters… So Mexican District 9 meets Cloverfield then right? Wrong! As usual a clever low budget movie is being pimped out by a major company and is now stood out on a street corner looking like a cheap whore, being sold to people who will never understand the brain that lives within that pink minidress… maybe she knew what she was getting into when she sold out, but its still horrible to see.

A quick plot explanation then; Andrew is a photographer based in Mexico taking photos of the “infected zone”, an area between Mexico and North America that has been infected by tentacled squid-like aliens who came to earth 6 years ago thanks to some NASA probe or something totally unimportant. Andrew’s boss, a rich owner of an American publication, sets Andrew on a mission to escort his young daughter, an attractive blonde girl named Sam, to the coast of Mexico where she can get a ferry around to America.  All does not go according to plan however and the pair are forced to make their way through the infected zone instead.

You can pretty much ignore the above though, Monsters is about two strangers from totally different lifestyles meeting in a strange place through strange circumstances and becoming friends with a ‘will they/won’t they’ love interest blossoming as they travel deeper into the Mexican jungle. The couple talk about stuff that people who are just meeting talk about, they fall out, they make up, they laugh and cry. They live life… whilst being in an infected zone full of aliens.  Imagine Lost in Translation if it was actually titled “GODZILLA”, imagine essentially the same movie, but in the background of the hotel window whilst Scarlett cries on her bed will pass the giant eye of Godzilla as he wreaks havok on Tokyo!

Director Gareth Edwards (who I’m claiming as Welsh because of that name although I have no evidence to back that up) needs to be applauded and rewarded with a giant budget for what he has managed to create. If the budget of $15.000 is true then he is also to be revered as a new god in the world of indie filmmaking because Monsters is beautiful, its beautifully shot and reaches far beyond what can be expected of an indie movie with this kind of financial limitations. Given how hard it is to find good actors for cheap the cast is pretty fantastic, the special effects are frequent but mostly subtle and probably wouldn’t even be noticed by someone not looking for them, amusingly they’re pretty much all featured in the above trailer. The “creatures” are also pretty well done, using darkness to forgive the budget effects. Of course the effects don’t stack up next to blockbuster counterparts like district 9, but they fit well and are used sparingly.

If there is a negative then maybe you could argue that the pacing at the start of the movie is slower than the more interesting and tense final third, maybe the start could have been 10 minutes shorter and the end stretched a little longer. This is just a minor gripe however as you can’t judge this movie with the same rule you do for a giant budget Hollywood movie, getting me to sit through anything made for $15000 that doesn’t have “anal” in the title is a win and hopefully other people will veiw it with the same yardstick.

“Monsters” has taken the patented Blammo monster movie policy and pushed the envelope, “Monsters” is a monster movie that has a serious lack of monsters!

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