“Monsters” review: Sci-fi done cheaply beautiful

A beautifully shot, yet flatly acted romp through the Infected Zone.

Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing

Whitney Able in "Monsters"

When disaster strikes, panic ensues. As the situation turns dire, logic seems impossible and grief sets in. What happens when we move on?

Where the typical monster movie ends, that’s where “Monsters” begins.

Set a year after NASA discovers a possibility of alien life on Europa, a moon of Jupiter, a probe sent to collect spores from the planet crash lands in the Mexican ocean. Soon after, new life forms are discovered and half of Mexico is deemed the Infected Zone.

Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy), an American photojournalist, is sent on a special assignment to escort his boss’s daughter Sam Wynden (Whitney Able) back from Mexico into the US.

After failed attempts to easily and safely return home, Kaulder and Sam must take their chances through the Infected Zone.

At its core, “Monsters” is essentially a road movie. The exotic scenery, the varying modes of transportation, the consistent yet so far away destination are all elements of the typical road movie, but aliens are thrown into the mix. This dangerous factor does not seem to create any sense of dread upon the journey though. Maybe due to the acceptance of the creatures or just pure ambiguity, nothing seems to phase the main characters in their unfortunate ordeal.

Trying to capitalize on their real-life relationship, Able and McNairy’s on-screen chemistry comes off as strangely dull. With flat line deliveries and boring conversations, the use of improv was wasted from these two actors.

Though not masterfully acted, “Monsters” has its scenery to rely upon.

Vast landscapes and thick jungles littered with the ravages of the creatures convey the film’s strong points. The delicate cinematography shows where this first time director’s (Gareth Edwards) roots and strengths lie. Edwards lets each shot tell its own story, but that, in turn, takes away from the actors. Paired with a subtle ambient score, “Monsters” is more a visual and aural treat than a narrative driven film.

As a cheap complete indie package, “Monsters” excels in aspects like CG, even surpassing some blockbuster films, cinematography and score to hide its minuscule budget, but its plot holes and flat performances keep this film from being the breakout sci-fi hit it has the potential of being.

Originally published on Oct. 28, 2010 @ StudentVoiceOnline.com

Original post: http://www.studentvoiceonline.com/arts-entertainment/monsters-review-sci-fi-done-cheaply-beautiful-1.2386106

About Kenny Redublo

What I'm trying to do most is trying to do something. It's these short lines of writing that describe me most. Concise but maybe, in a way, poignant.
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