December 5th, 2010
|09:48 pm - Monsters|
Monsters is a simple but effective SF film. One guy - Gareth Edwards - wrote, directed and did the special effects (looking at his imdb credits I think he is a special effects specialist). I often say this sort of single-author production is self-indulgent bullshit, but I think this is a satisfying film: simple, not too long, only two lead characters. I think rather than indulging himself he has correctly assessed his limitations, and aimed only at producing a film which realises in the most straightforward way a single concept. I think also, clearly made by a person who thinks primarily in pictures.
If you want to quickly understand what this film is like - it's like Cloverfield, but in the third world. It's shaky-cam, it's about massive tentacular monsters, mostly glimpsed at a distance, it's a boy and girl going through a danger zone. The premise is that a NASA spacecraft, biologically contaminated, crashed on re-entry about ten years prior. The border area between Mexico and the USA is sealed off, and horrid alien creatures are contained there. A war photographer has to escort the daughter of the owner of his magazine back home.
Very little is explained narratively. The visual 'show' is very good and more or less stands in for 'tell'. You see old graffiti of the monsters, on bombed-out ruins. You see a Mexican TV advert, telling children to keep their gas masks handy. You see F-111's roaring past.
I liked the third world context of the film. I thought it genuinely gave a feeling of what it is like to be in a poor country, as a Western visitor rather than tourist. The protagonists were much less annoying than I expected, less whiny and entitled. In particular the rich girl could have been awful, 9 films out of 10, but I thought she was a likeable realistic woman.
There isn't much plot at all. The concept of the aliens I think is quite well realised. My feeling is we are meant to feel that the containment has been farcically unsuccessful, and that the US are in pretty heavy denial. A lot of reviews I have read suggest the whole thing is an allegory about containment of Mexican 'aliens'. I would say there are quite strong allusions to that idea in several places, but the whole thing isn't a kind of parable about immigration. It's a monster film.
|Date:||December 5th, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)|| |
Thanks for the review!
I meant to say there is a bit quite near the end where the two protagonists see the monsters clearly for the first time, and I think realise that they are both alien and beautiful. You don't get that in many monster films.
|Date:||December 5th, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC)|| |
No, indeed. Many monster movies are let down by the actual monsters. I think here of Dog Soldiers, which is one of my faves, but the beasties themselves are totally lame, once seen.
I wasn't sure whether to go see Monster once the snow leaves off, but now I'm looking forward to it.
That is a good scene.
I'm just writing up my thoughts on this. I do like it as a version of Cloverfield which doesn't see NYC as the centre of the universe. At the same time, I thought it was desperately thin. It never really manages to move beyond its idea to an actual story. The rich girl and the war photographer are less irritating than they good be but they never really rise above being archetypes.
There really isn't much of a story I think, just a visual idea. But I'd rather a film pares itself down to that, than tries to whip up some froth of meaningless plot.
|Date:||December 6th, 2010 09:44 am (UTC)|| |
That sounds awesome! I've heard it compared to District 9, which I quite liked but thought that in the end it just turned into an irritating movie about white-man's-pain omg, so this:
I thought it genuinely gave a feeling of what it is like to be in a poor country, as a Western visitor rather than tourist. The protagonists were much less annoying than I expected, less whiny and entitled
is exactly what I was hoping for.
Of course I went into a mall yesterday and stopped being able to breathe because of the Xmas music, so I am not leaving the house again till New Year, but I will catch it on DVD.
I don't want to overstate it. The rich westerners are privileged, and buy their way out of trouble quite blatantly, but at least they don't act like that's their moral right. And there is an element of 'white man's pain', but I think it was presented a little more critically than usual.
|Date:||December 6th, 2010 10:17 am (UTC)|| |
Yeah, what I was saying to gerald
is 'At least this is going to be ABOUT privileged westerners set against a scenic third-world backdrop, and know it's about that!' And this sounds like what I was hoping for...