Tuesday, February 22, 2011

DVD Review - Monsters

Monsters - ***

Directed by:  Gareth Edwards

Starring:  Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able

Review:  ‘Monsters’ is proof that you don’t have to rely on formulaic storylines to make a solid movie.  When a successful movie is made Hollywood seems to be of the idea that they have to copy that movie to make another successful one.  What they don’t realize is that you can draw from a certain movie, but in order to make a really good one it still has to be its own movie and have some originality, case in point ‘The Dark Knight.’ 

‘Monsters’ takes cues from movies like ‘Jurassic Park,’ ‘District 9,’ and others.  The thing about ‘Monsters’ is that it has enough of its own flavor to make it its own movie.  The movie centers around 6 years after an event in which extra terrestrials were discovered.  A NASA space probe discovered them and brought them back to Earth, albeit unwittingly, and now they are here, not going away, and need to be controlled somehow.  The aliens landed in Mexico and have inhabited the land area in-between Mexico and the United States.   The two governments (US and Mexico) have joined together, they do bombing runs, they drop chemical warfare on the aliens and do whatever it is they can to make sure that the aliens are contained to what they have devised as the ‘infected zone.’

In an effort to get back to America and get home, two people who barely know each other try to brave the infected zone to make it back to their home and safety.  There is a little build up to this point, but the majority of the movie takes place on their journey and deals with their trials and tribulations in their attempt to get to back home.

At first I was a little upset that we see the aliens in videos and pictures in the movie so soon.  I thought maybe a ‘Jaws’ effect of where the aliens were revealed later in the movie after hearing them or seeing their destruction would have been a little more impactful.  However, it’s the last scene of the movie that really draws it all together and makes sense as to why the ‘monsters’ are shown throughout the movie.  Despite the title these monsters in this movie are not really monsters at all.  These aliens are in a different world, from a different planet, and are just trying to survive. 

The monsters are not made into likeable characters or anything like that; it is more of an allegorical look at ourselves.  Our two main characters have problems in their personal lives that they try to beat down and not deal with directly.  That is how the world has reacted to these monsters.  Instead of trying to deal with them appropriately and figure out a way for them to be handled, they quarantine them to an ‘infected zone’ and constantly bomb and fight them to make sure they don’t go outside their zone.  One of the supporting characters in the movie even says that the monsters don’t bother you unless you bother them and it’s not until the Americans start bombing runs that the monsters get real agitated and start to become destructive.

We learn that this is not the way to deal with these creatures.  When dealt with properly they are not malicious and the problem gets resolved.  That’s where this movie really begins to change in one’s mind.  This should not be viewed as a monster movie just as ‘Jaws’ never should have.  This movie needs to be looked at for its characters and our society.  Too often we don’t deal with problems correctly, we simply try to destroy them, put them in their own little area, and forget about them. 

One of the main characters even states that when they cross the border into America that everything will be back to normal and everything they went through won’t mean anything.  It isn’t till the end scene when they realize that these monsters aren’t just going away and things won’t be normal.  They can never forget what they went through and everything that has happened.  Their lives are irrevocably changed and they now realize that they have to deal with their own problems and work to fix them instead of just trying to quarantine them in their own zone.

Such a revelation is not immediately evident, but after thinking about the movie for a bit it becomes apparent.  The movie is not a survivor movie, it’s not a movie about fighting aliens, it’s not about aliens trying to colonize our planet, it’s about how to deal with a problem that affects not just yourself but multiple people. 

I would say this movie is worth your time.  You have to come in with the right expectation though, it’s not a horror movie, it’s not a monster movie, it’s not an alien movie, it’s a movie about people and how we deal with things, and if you can focus on that, it makes for a quite enjoyable experience.

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