Here, There be Monsters.
There's no way to say quite what I want to say without sounding like a patronizing dick, but since that might as well be the title of this website (Patronizingdick.com. Just to really make that joke hit home.) I'll go right ahead and say it anyway. I get what Monsters was trying to do. I like what Monsters was trying to do. And I think in better hands, hands that knew how to do all the things that Monsters tries and fails at, it could have been something great. If nothing else, the film is an excellent candidate to be remade in twenty years. Its got a great premise, with an interesting view on it and feels quite original. Its a shame being a movie had to get in the way of all these great ideas.
I think that Monsters tries to, more then anything, be a character story. Its an intent I respect, and for anyone who says that this movie sucks because not enough people are getting Hadoukened by sickass monsters are wrong. Two people set against the chaos could have been something worth watching. It doesn't work because neither the performances of the leads or the nature of the characters are fascinating enough to justify watching these guys instead of watching people get hadoukened by sickass monsters. Leads Whitney Able and Scott McNairy are just too bland to hold attention in the way the film needs them to. They were cast as far as I can tell, for their ability to look beautiful staring into the distance. Similarly, early contrivances to get them into 'The infected zone' feel a little weak. And frankly seeing them get out-acted by a douchebag of a ferry salesman doesn't help. I can't find his name anywhere but that guy was my favourite thing about the film. But more then anything its Monsters insistence on trying to be introspective without the capacity to do it. Its a film that scrounges after ascending to the next level so much it too often leads us hanging in the meantime. And if nothing else it teaches us that you can kill a little girl and get a 12A as long as that girl's not white. Love the BBFC.
It has its strengths, it looks astounding and it comes as no surprise to me that its a film conceived and written by a director of photography. Because the film has the strengths that is implied by that, but also the weaknesses, and while I respect Gareth Edwards for putting a lot of effort into trying to write a compelling film, he's wrote an indulgent one and frankly a dull-headed one. Still there's some awesome shots in there so I guess its OK. A unique film with the best of intentions, but without the nous to be as good as it wants to be. I look forward to the remake.