197 of 229 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2010
First, I must mention that I did not see this on Amazon, but in the theatre...and that I thought it looked amazingly vivid and epic on the big screen, despite being shot on video.
Second...what a great movie! I knew going in that it would be more about the journey of its two main characters and less about giant monsters stomping humans into the soil. And yet, as drawn in as I was by the former, there was enough monster action to deliver plenty of good scares to propel the movie and that other thing we go to see Kaiju movies for: wonderment.
The special effects, when deployed, are great. Though the design of the "monsters" is simple (and, to be honest, a little too close to a very familiar earth creature), the more you see of them, the more intricate they look. They also seem towering and immense and believable.
The performances from the two leads are not "act-y" at all and the pace of the film feels very natural, lending to the credibility of what takes place. I like that this film is so different from other giant monster movies...the older ones seem very presentational (and therefore unreal), and the more recent ones seem like video games, so geared are they to the attention span of tweens. This one gives us a plausible scenario...and the set-up feels ominous and yet very realistic. Don't expect to see NewGodzilla trying to swallow Matthew Broderick in a cab, or Cloverfield masticating TJ Miller in Central Park: this movie is as much about the creatures *we* are as it is about the things we fear.
169 of 202 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2010
As one who is actually reviewing the film, and not ranting against the rental policy, I give this film four stars. Focusing on the two mains characters of the film, than on elaborate and expensive effects, Gareth Edwards has produced a remarkable tale of two American's trapped beyond the Infected Zone, following an outbreak of extra-terrestrial spores, in Mexico, trying to return to the United States. The limited effects are first rate, and, unlike many Hollywood films, exist to support the storyline, not replace it.
89 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2012
Two actors. One filmmaker. Shot on location. Organic characters - and extras. Organic dialogue. Great camera work. Produced for under 500K. I'd call that revolutionary.
This movie just felt "real" compared to most of the green-screen stuff coming out these days. It played like a great drummer - in the pocket with nothing over-the-top. The "simple" and sublime score was very effective as well.
A solid fiver in my book, and a budgetary milestone in movie-making.
38 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Some loved it, and some hated it-Monsters!! I'm somewhere in the middle myself. I can see why folks hated it due to the serious lack of monster action in a film entitled Monsters. I can also see why some enjoyed having a story that took it's time and was essentially about people rather than a nonstop onslaught of monster carnage.
As time goes on, Hollywood continues to shorten our attention spans(especially younger folks who grow up on today's Hollywood films and can't stay focused on anything unless it has the pacing of a television commercial) by piling on the computer effects and taking out the story. Hell, who wants to pay forty bucks for a date, popcorn and soda to go to the theater to watch a story being told through dialogue and/or acting? Absurd!!
Monsters is about a chunk of northern Mexico that has been quarantined off because of an alien species which now roams the region. A newspaper photographer is given the task of transporting the editor's daughter(who's in Mexico) safely across the border into the U.S. Well, the journey isn't as easy as planned as the duo encounter numerous setbacks and end up having to travel through the "Infected Zone", which is a large patch of jungle.
Now, the meat of the movie is the journey of the two protagonists than it is about fighting monsters. I do have respect for that, some of the best horror films have been more about the human element than the monster. Romero's original zombie trilogy is a great example of this. However, my gripe with this movie is that there's really nothing else interesting going on. To be honest, I couldn't give a hoot less about the plight of the two main characters. I didn't dislike them, but they just weren't very strong or interesting. Their travels through the infected jungle aren't interesting either. Aside from one encounter with a creature, there weren't any real perils for them to deal with. Before they reach the jungle, they party and go on a pseudo-date in the city, then go on boat and truck rides. It's kinda like a travelogue of Mexico, and it's not really interesting. I'm not one to whine about lack of monsters, but if this is the alternative, throw the audience a bone here.
The monsters themselves are cool. They're a kind of giant octopus type thing that Lovecraft would be proud of. They are CGI, but shown mostly in the dark and don't look bad at all. No, you do not see them hardly at all, so take this film straight out of your cart or off your queue if you want to see a giant octopus invasion.
All in all, it wasn't too bad, but I do respect it more than I actually like it.
77 of 99 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2010
I get that people don't like this movie. I myself rented it this previous Halloween weekend, hoping for a good monster movie, despite the costly price tag on my pay-per-view service.
Still, this movie surprised me. I thought it did a better job than most Hollywood fodder at making us care about the protagonists, and while I still expected and hoped for some good monster action once our emotions were stirred, I still wasn't disappointed. It was simply that the message of the film was not one of monster horror per se, and although that was what I was looking for that unfulfilled desire didn't blind me to the value of the film. I think a better question would be, who are the monsters in the film? There are more than just the extraterrestrials.
Within the reviews I have seen comparisons to many films. Prior to reading them I myself found comparisons to District 9 and Cloverfield. The thought of a government cover-up crossed my mind when I mistook the Wall for a research structure located deep within the infected zone while watching the trailer, although I didn't immediately make the comparison to The Mist. I also didn't see a comparison to Apocalypse Now that another reviewer alludes to, but it would be interesting to hear more of what that reviewer saw that I didn't - or I'll just have to watch the two one after the other sometime in the future and come to my own conclusions.
Needless to say, there are many precedents to this film. There is one that stood out to me that I did not see anyone mention, and that is Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker. Both Stalker and Monsters have a Zone that was created by an extraterrestrial event, both have guides through the zone ("coyotes" in Monsters and "stalkers" in Stalker), both are littered with civilian ruins alongside military machinery that has been conquered by the extraterrestrial presence and overgrown by nature - the most striking visual similarity, and both lead their protagonists to introspective insights as a result of their journey through their respective zones.
Now, I tend to give a filmmaker the benefit of the doubt, especially with independent films, that they are at least attempting to be poetic. (Let Tarkovsky roll in his grave, but if the scene of the building being knocked down to reveal a church in the background from The Steamroller and the Violin wasn't symbolic, especially against the background of communist USSR...) So I asked myself the question, what does the film title allude to? Without going into detail to give too much away, I think a theme subtler than others in the film has to do with what happens when nature - including human nature - is left unfettered by the physical and social constraints placed upon it. One of the guides who lives in the zone in Monsters observes that the creatures act like wild animals, they leave people alone if people leave them alone - but they get pretty angry when the US planes come in and bomb them. There's plenty of idealism to be mined there.
I really liked this film. It's not going to be one of the classics in my collection necessarily, so it probably deserves a four personally, but I'm giving it a five here because I think it rises above the dumbing down the majority of American films have seemed to suffer from lately. Or perhaps I'm being too critical - not all films can be more than just entertainment to stave off the boredom of modern life.
So ignore my own existential BS and see the movie. You might find it worthwhile.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Here's another low budget surprise by young British filmmaker Gareth Edwards. Using a couple of young American actors nobody has heard of and guerrilla filmmaking, Edwards produces a terrific thriller. A rich American woman is hurt in Mexico while vacationing prior to an upcoming wedding that we see she's not sure about. After she is physically hurt, her father, a publishing tycoon, asks one of his photo journalists to get her home safe.
Why the big deal? The Mexican/U.S. border has been walled off due to an invasion of alien creatures occupying the area. They look similar to the spidery creatures from Spielberg's "War of the Worlds", but they are rarely seen in the film. What makes the movie different is that this is not a film about invasions and efforts to repel them. They're here and while they are certainly dangerous, they seem more like wild animals. They will fight, but only when threatened.
Again, the movie is not so much about the creatures as it is about the journey to get back to America. Flying is out. The creatures can fly (I think), but are usually grounded. American jets are constantly attacking and spraying chemicals in the infected zone. When the couple loses their passports, passage by ferry is also out, so they hire mercenaries to escort them. Along the way, they fall for each other, but it takes the whole movie for them to act on their feelings. The movie has depth, suspense and foreboding, but it really isn't a horror movie, it's a romantic journey.
BLU RAY UPDATE (7-17-14)
With the success of the new "Godzilla" movie, I thought it would be fun to go back a few years to Gareth Edwards first big screen feature film. With "Monsters," Edwards not only directed but wrote, photographed, did the production design, the visual effects and I suspect had his hands in everything else. When I first saw this movie back in 2011, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but the title is a bit of a misnomer. Sure there are monsters, an alien life-form brought back from space by NASA. But aside from a few scenes, they really aren't all that menacing. Like many wild animals, they will respond to threats. The story really is about a couple on a harrowing road trip from Central America back to the U. S. This is a remarkable filmmaking debut by Edwards. Sources say he did it on a $500K budget. With "Godzilla" he had $160 million to work with.
The Blu ray version of this film is surprisingly well done given some of the lighting constraints and locations Edwards had to deal with. The transfer comes with a 1080p resolution and a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. As you might expect, hand held cameras are used exclusively from what I could tell. The detail is excellent. Close-ups of the actors show facial hair stubble & skin blemishes with no problem. Skin tones are accurate. Colors are subdued and some of the night time shots are a bit fuzzy and dark. Overall, it is very good.
Aside from dialog volume issues on occasion, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is first class. My son and his dog had come over for the night and wanted to watch this movie. There is one scene where the couple come across dead people in the Mexican jungle. Flies are swarming all over the corpses and the buzzing was coming from everywhere. The dog kept jumping up and chasing the imaginary flies he thought were landing on him. Subtitles are available in Spanish and English SDH. Here are the extras:
Making of features
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2011
If you are looking for another Transformers, Cloverfield or Aliens this may not be the movie for you. If you looking for a well-made, often beautifully shot and thoughtful film with a very human nature and just enough of the monsters to make it exciting,then definitely watch this film. Sure, there are no jungles or mayan ruins in northern Mexico, but so what? The story of two Americans trying to get back home through alien infested territory is engrossing and satisfying. The natural performances by the two leads are convincing and effective while the side characters are very good considering that most of the other folks in the movie are not professional actors. All in all, Monsters is an entertaining and satisfying film that should please both fans of science-fiction and those who merely want to watch a good movie. Spoiler alert: If you want to understand the ending, watch the film and then go back and watch the opening scene again.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This one is a little difficult to watch; while there are a few interesting moments there seem to be an abundance of meaningless filler moments that are difficult to watch. At midpoint I had to stop it and recover before I could go on with the movie the next day. You may well ask why I bothered and the only answer I can provide to that question was a slight curiosity how it would end.
A little over half way through the movie starts getting a little more interesting as the two leads start their return to the USA. A serious libido problem on the guy's part causes them to miss a vital connection on their return trip and choose an alternate route home through dangerous territory.
Much of the story is told after dark so the demands on the cgi are correspondingly reduced. In its favor there are some effective scenes showing life in the Mexican villages and some of the sequences are marginally interesting.
Now let's consider another possibility; what if the alien monsters were symbolic of drug cartels, what if the whole thing is an allegory for the current situation with drug cartels in Northern Mexico? If one thinks in those terms there are some interesting parallels; for example the efforts of the United States to protect itself with a wall. Another would be the infected zones and their parallel with areas controlled by the cartels. The alien monsters had long tentacles which is similar to the tentacles of influence exercised by the cartels. The monsters were most active after dark which also characterizes the cartels. In those areas attacked by the monsters there was much devastation which is also a goal of the cartels. Another parallel are the evacuated zones in the United States; there are already areas of Arizona where citizens are warned not to go, are these infected zones perhaps?
I've not seen any suggestions that the allegorical nature of Monsters is intended to reflect Northern Mexico's drug problem but it does make for some interesting speculation.
If you are a dedicated sci-fi fan you may want to watch it just so you can say you did or you may want to check me out on my allegory speculation. I would be interested in hearing from any of you who care to investigate the possibility.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2011
First new 'monster' movie in a while that, thematically, challenges viewers beyond the standard tread action/horror flick.
This is both a good thing and a bad thing - depending on the type of movie you were expecting. Since I had no expectations - I was pleased.
I really enjoyed this character study of two disconnected people trapped behind the lines, so to speak, trying to get back home. This happens against a backdrop of a new life form accidentally released to our planet by a space probe, a life form that is clearly alien and incredibly large. Try to picture a walking 10-story high building with tentacles.
More here than meets the eye - and interpretation is open on several fronts.
The immigration issue immediately leaps to the forefront. Strange aliens crossing over the Mexican/US border; the call to action to 'defeat' the unknown. The gigantic wall is a fairly obvious stage prop.
This message is made clear at the end of the film as Scott McNairy (Andrew) and Whitney Able (Samantha) witness a tender interaction between two of these gigantic creatures. Each singing a different, very humpback whale-like song. I suspect that the director implied that they were male and female, juxtaposed against the main characters themselves. It questions whether or not the danger or "monster" exists with the newcomers or within us. As noted by the transport crew hired to take them through the infested/restricted lands, who comment: They don't bother anyone as long as you don't bother them.
Another discussion could be life choices. Both characters reflect on what they were doing when they first meet, as each has chosen a life not entirely their own - akin to the aliens themselves. Andy as a father who deeply regrets the choice to stay outside of his son's life. Sam as a young heiress about to become another empty socialite trophy wife.
And of course there's the survivalist aspect - the adventure/terror of moving across a landscape that threatens death at nearly every turn.
I can see why a lot of horror/action fans were disappointed. The film really isn't about monsters per se, rather it seems to me at least, a story about humanity and its reactions to the unknown. How a mismatched pair of humans might find commonality with these strange new life-forms in a new land with new choices.
20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Monsters wasn't created as the next blockbusting summer film, as tested by endless test groups with big studio money. Instead it is a small budget movie telling a small story, in the midst of a big event. And that makes it wonderful. The movie is defiantly character driven with the very nice special effects set to compliment the story and not steal it. Now don't get me wrong, there are plenty of political allegories in the film, but they are easy enough to ignore. And you discover the movie itself is quite good, even more so considering the very modest budget. There are things that take away, some scenes seem to last overlong, and some dialog seems to fall flat. This isn't a edge of your seat scary movie either. Anyone expecting that will be sadly disappointed, though it has its scary moments. I think those who watch the movie without any preconceived ideas or expectations will be the ones who will really enjoy this movie.