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Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon reentry over Central America. Soon after, new life forms began to appear and half of Mexico was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain the creatures... Our story begins when a U.S. journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through the infected zone to the safety of the U.S. border.
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And that's exactly what this is, an indie drama about two strangers coming together to survive in a tense and unpredictable situation. It's more of a gradually growing romance than a horror story so it's no wonder some people don't like it. In fact it's really well done with the two principals acting very natural throughout their adventure-ordeal. Some viewers don't like the characters, considering them rich and spoiled, but that's another thing entirely and not valid film criticism. There is a plot contrivance that sets everything that follows into motion that makes a character do a particularly stupid and juvenile thing and that's a bit annoying, but without it you'd have no film, so you have to let it pass.
In fact you have to let a lot of plot holes and unbelievable things slide in order to enjoy the film but I found the film so compelling and enjoyable that I was willing to do so. The monsters themselves when they do appear onscreen, look really good but the exobiology is impossible. Even if such huge creatures could inhabit the sea under the ice of Europa (their source in the film) could they take the much hotter climate of Earth? And being confined to underwater life how is it that they can walk on land at all, much less withstand Earth's much heavier gravity? It's things like that that can bug you, but like I said, the human drama is good, so you let it pass. Whitney Able as Samantha Wynden also manages to stay awfully clean and good-looking despite this horrible trek through the jungle, but that's pretty standard in films.
This movie looks really great for its half-million dollar budget and the fact it was shot with consumer-level video. The scenes were mostly shot on location (in Mexico and Guatemala) using whatever locals were around as characters and extras, almost extemporaneously. Only the two principals are experienced actors. The special effects were amazingly all created on home computers using special effects software available to the general public. This is hard to believe when you see it. Had director-writer Gareth Edwards wanted to make an action film of Monsters, he could have done so. Monsters - that was probably the worst name they could have come up with for this film as it really does infer a creature-centered film.
If an independent film drama in a near-future science fiction setting appeals to you by all means see this film. It's unique and different
EXTRA NOTE ON CRAZY GEOGRAPHY: As much as I liked this film, I couldn't get over the director's total misconception of Mexican geography. The "Infected Zone" shown on maps several times is clearly the Northern third of Mexico up to the U.S. border. The characters seem to be shown on the map (when they plan their route) near the west coast around the latitude of Acapulco. Yet the whole trek takes place in the jungle. In fact at one point they are looking at the U.S. border (clearly marked by a huge wall - LOL) from the top of a Mayan pyramid surrounded by jungle. All I can imagine is that the British director, who shot everything near and in Central America, simply thought it was the same all the way through Mexico. It would have been a very simple thing to simply write it taking place in Guatemala or the Yucatan. As it is it's weird and a bit distracting.
As the central relationship develops under the strain of facing or surviving the "monsters" to the north (a thinly veiled metaphor for the United States's horrendous effects--political, social, economic--on the peoples to its South), we see two very fragile people trying to make meaning in a world gone to the dogs--or to very large octopus-like creatures.
There's more here to talk about. It's a thoughtful, very interesting film, and the director, Gareth Edwards, is somebody to watch. Good direction attends to detail--plot, characterization, thematic development, etc. Edwards understands this and he gets a lot of those elements right in this film. I'd like to get a Blu-ray copy, if there is one, so I can watch it again. The movie reminded me a bit of the Strugatsky's "Roadside Picnic" -- the novel, not Tarkovsky's movie of that novel, "Stalker."
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Not a big fan of the first movie, but really liked the second movie, as the story line isn't quite what you thought it was going to be.