Friday, May 27, 2011
Monsters - 2010
Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon after, new life forms started to appear there and half of Mexico was quarantined as an infected zone. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain the "creatures"...
I don't remember when I first heard about this movie, or even how I heard about it. What I do remember, is watching the trailer for the first time and falling in love. Then I read more about the movie, saw a clip of it and decided I had to watch it. For the most part, I'm not a huge fan of sci fi movies. Generally, especially newer ones, tend to be epic special effects orgies that sacrifice the story for the visuals. I'm sure we can all think of more than one example that fits that. What I loved about everything I discovered about this movie was that this looked more like a love/road story set against the backdrop of a alien monster invasion. The creatures and the devastation they wrought was there, but they weren't the overriding story. Thankfully, what I thought I was getting, I got.
The story takes place six years after the probe crashing back to Earth. Somehow those samples sprouted new life in the form of giant octopus like monsters, think Cuthullu but smaller, that the governments of the U.S. and Mexico are trying to contain in the top half of Mexico. The U.S. has built a massive wall along it's entire Southern border and nobody is allowed to cross over that wall. Photojournalist, Andrew Kaulder, has been south of the infected zone trying to capture that one shot that will make him money. After the hotel the daughter, Samantha Wynden, of his boss was staying in was attacked by one of the creatures, Andrew is tasked with getting her to the coast and on a ferry back to the U.S. The movie really tells the story of Andrew and Samantha's journey.
This is a love story more than it is anything else, both of these characters are in Southern Mexico because they are running away. She is trying to hide from a fiance that she really isn't in love him. He is trying to escape the pain of finding out his son, really wasn't his. They are both damaged people who learn to trust each other and fall in love on the way home. Their physical journey home, and this may sound cliche, mirrors their emotional journey with each other.
For a budget of just around $15,000, the monsters and the wreckage they leave behind is almost breathtaking in scope. Entire towns are seen in ruins, with abandoned buildings being taken back over by the jungle. They resemble ancient temples that serve as lasting reminders of a people who have vanished long ago. There are some beautiful shots in this movie that I really wasn't expecting to see in such a low budget. The director has an eye for setting the mood and framing in a way that keeps the eye's attention. The monsters themselves, especially the end sequence are gorgeous. Probably some of the most beautiful creatures I've seen on screen for a long time.
I really can't grouse about much of anything with this movie. The film is a visual treat, the acting is subtle and believable, and the storyline kept me engaged the entire time. My one quibble, and it is a very small one, is that I'm not a huge fan of tying the opening scene in with the closing scene. I don't like to know what will happen before it does. I know this is a trend in both movies and TV, but I wish it would go away. It didn't take away from what I was watching, especially since I didn't realize it until the end, but it was slightly annoying anyway.
I would strongly encourage everyone to see this movie. Just don't expect large explosions, 20 minute scenes of monster carnage, or overly gorgeous actors trying not to look too dirty while they are on the run. If you like well told stories told against a backdrop a little out of the norm, I think you will love it as much as I did.