Written by Simon Abrams on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts.

Gareth Edwards, who wrote and directed the , does knowingly grapple
with similar themes as Cloverfield
and District 9. But it never gets so
bad that Monsters’ shared interest in
shaky cameras, deformed squid-like creatures and canned racial politics becomes
overwhelmingly distracting. What Monsters
sorely wants is a convincing human element and a softer touch when it comes
to its incoherent and mostly pretentious depiction of the way the media
sensationalizes and in turn creates monsters. Edwards’s handheld digital
photography helps him kill both of those birds with one stone and that’s really where his ambitious
parable falls apart.

In a world where aliens have crash-landed and been barely
quarantined to half of the U.S. and much of Mexico, photographer Andrew Kaulder
(Scott McNairy) is the equivalent of a vulture. He takes a break from snapping
pics of dead glow-in-the-dark squid alien carcasses to help Samantha Wynden
(Whitney Able), his daughter’s boss, evacuate to safety. Andrew starts their
trip as a driven, impatient and unkind scavenger, sneering to Samantha that he
could potentially be paid “$50,000 for a picture of a dead child.” He ends the
film having reached a mystifying new understanding of his job via an overworked
encounter with two monsters copulating after one has sucked energy from a
nearby television showing footage of the military fighting squid creatures on a
CNN-type channel. His transition between those two state of minds is brutally

Edwards actively stifles the budding romance between Andrew
and Samantha, which is effectively what necessitates the key change from Andrew
the exploiter to Andrew the enlightened. His quick takes, chopped-up close-ups
and over-edited scenes of dialogue only give McNairy and Able enough time to
pose with fleeting pained looks when they really need to emote with their whole
bodies their frustrated ardor for one another.

The film’s over-protective aesthetic is however effective
when it comes to filming the film’s creatures. The actual monsters in Monsters thrive on suggestion and die
when cast into harsh light: if you show too much, we stop caring. Too bad that
concept directly clashes with the film’s central concern with the dangers of
using tawdry representations of traumatic events to stand in for them. In the
news, we have to see things to believe them while the opposite is true of
monster movies and simplistic allegories alike.


Written by admin on . Posted in Arts & Film, Film.

By Armond White

Monsters is a love story between two shallow, annoying people, Sam (Whitney Able) and Andrew (Scoot McNairy), who resemble Cameron Diaz and Ethan Coen wannabes, the kind of hipsters you see at the Independent Awards. They’re stuck in Mexico when an extraterrestrial invasion attacks Earth. Crisis brings out the couple’s foolishness (her weak bladder, his irresponsible loss of passports) and draws them together.

Director Gareth Edwards only has self-satisfaction in mind. He exploits the same sci-fi/horror movie trend as District 9 and The Blair Witch Project, using the same inept form: handheld, imprecise imagery and inefficient, repetitious improvised dialog. During long, dull stretches (where TV news broadcasts of aliens killing 5,000 humans provides weak backstory), you might think back on truly amazing apocalyptic narratives: Spielberg’s ferry spectacle in War of the Worlds; Paul W.S. Anderson’s 3-D dynamism in Resident Evil: Afterlife. And when these aliens, who resemble neon octopi, mate atop a Texaco gas station and put Sam and Alex in the mood, you might also think on the sentimental slop of Cloverfield.

Yet, Edwards’ idea of fitting his homemade F/X into a monster/make-out movie is better than the film’s trite political allegory: The “Infected Zone” of the alien attacks resembles the U.S./Mexican border, which is visualized as a bunker-style fortress resembling China’s Great Wall: Sam gasps, “It’s like the Seventh Wonder! The largest man-made structure I’ve ever seen!” This depiction of the Immigration crisis is slightly less ridiculous than the already-forgotten Machete. If Monsters’ poor craft, makeshift commentary and air of mystery and danger are about anything, it’s really about contemporary film narrative and communication collapsing into self-satisfied, indie-movie nonsense.
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Runtime: 92 min.

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