Six years ago they came. And if they happen to be slimy, tentacled, beasts prone to incredible bursts of bloody violence and standing the size of two story bungalows, what are you going to do? Well if you know humans like I know humans you know that we are going to blow these suckers to hell and kill them all. If possible. And failing that run like hell. And thus the groundwork for director Gareth Edwards monster movie ĎMonstersí is laid, a movie which is two parts damned impressive and one and a half parts extremely frustrating.
Our film centers around Andrew (Scoot McNairy), a photojournalist in Mexico trying his best to get live pictures of these monsters causing death and destruction, and if heís lucky heíll snag a pic of a dead kid which would land him a nice tidy sum, and Samantha (Whitney Able), the daughter of the magnate that owns the publication that Andrew works for and was in Mexico for reasons that are humanitarian in nature. At least thatís what Iím guessing considering that Mexico at this point and time isnít the ideal vacation spot.
Samantha was slightly injured during the latest monster attack and Andrew has been saddled with the task of making sure that Samantha makes it out of Mexico and back to the safety of the good olí U.S. of A. thatís monster free right now. Andrew is none too happy about this but considering his multimillionaire boss has personally asked him to do this thing, he has little option but to see it through.
This gives us what ĎMonstersí really is, that being an odd couple Road Trip movie with the specter or our monsters floating around ominously as the backdrop. Circumstance, mainly the fact that Andrew is an idiot, leads to our couple having to abandon their initial plans to get out of Mexico and travel a far more perilous route through the heart of where the monsters have set up shop and are doing the most damage.
First by train then by car then by boat then by foot they do their best to make it back home while seeing first hand what the monsters are capable of and also what we are capable of. They also get to spend some quality time with each other as their attraction grows and while I personally donít find much about Andrew all that attractive, Iím not a woman who is occasionally being attacked by monsters, who is trapped in an unhappy relationship and has an over bearing possessive father, so what the hell do I know?
And so it goes. Sexual tensions firmly established, a lot of dialog between our two main characters as they pour out their hearts to each other as they attempt to somehow get over that wall the size of the Great Wall of China blocking off Mexico from California, with the ever oppressive visage of the Monsters on their tails. Will they survive? Well, this movie really isnít about that.
Edwards ĎMonstersí is a steady, slow burning fuse that consistently rises in tension. The problem is that this fuse doesnít ever detonate as you sit around kind of waiting for something to happen that really never does happen. At least in the traditional sense of something happening. Iíve read elsewhere where many have complained about the incredibly misleading movie trailer for this film, and no doubt as far misleading movie trailers go, the trailer for ĎMonstersí is near the top but Iím pretty much used to that so this wasnít a real issue with me in regards to this film, but that aside it does move slowly. ĎMonstersí is a film that substitutes action with tension, allegory and concepts, and the truth of the matter is that it does this very well. The monsters in this movie arenít some kind of benevolent misunderstood beast but they are indeed monsters, wild and primal. As the natives say, if you donít mess with them they wonít mess with you, but as with most wild beast their definition of Ďmess withí can change from moment to moment. But again the monsters arenít really the main focus of this movie, but instead the relationship between Andrew and Samantha and how well one can tolerate this relationship will probably wholly determine how much you will like this movie.
Personally, even though they started to grow on me a little bit as the movie wore on, I found both characters, particularly Andrew, not all that much fun to spend any quality time with. Itís cool we got to know these characters, I mean they spent an awful lot of time walking and riding in boats so Iím glad they were talking to each other and not just watching the lovely scenery pass by, but I didnít buy into the fact that there could actually be some kind of love connection between these two characters considering the absence of romantic chemistry between Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able. Contempt? That I got. Romance? Not so much.
Still, ĎMonstersí had a lot going for it. The movie is beautiful to look at, the sparse special effects are very well done, the tension is sky high and the two leads carry the movie just fine. It was frustrating that nothing ever really seemed to happen, but then again, it just isnít that kind of movie. The kind of movie it was, two damaged souls coming together in a time of tribulationÖ I just wasnít completely sold on that part either.