Monsters (M)

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The ViewDunedin Review

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Review byMatthew Turner2/12/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Beautifully shot, superbly directed and featuring extremely impressive made-on-a-laptop special effects, this is an engaging, offbeat road movie with strong performances from its two leads.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Gareth Edwards, Monsters stars Scoot McNairy (In Search Of A Midnight Kiss) and Whitney Able (who looks like a hotter version of Hannah Spearitt) as an aspiring photographer and the daughter of his billionaire publisher boss. As the story begins, they find themselves on an unplanned road trip through an area of South America that's quarantined from the rest of the world and infested with giant squid-like aliens.

The Good
McNairy and Able (who married after shooting finished) deliver strong, convincing performances, with the dialogue largely improvised throughout. This means that they're allowed moments of silence, boredom and inarticulacy rather than the script over-doing it with witty, back-and-forth banter (even if that movie might have been fun to see too). They're also ably backed up by a superb supporting cast made up of characters Edwards and the production crew met while filming.

The film is beautifully shot, with Edwards (who also served as both cinematographer and production designer) making the most of his striking locations; perhaps most impressive, however, is the fact that Edwards created all the creature effects at home on his laptop. That said, it's worth noting that the slew of 'This year's District 9' reviews are very misleading, because this is primarily a road movie, not an action-adventure-slash-creature feature.

The Bad
If there's a problem with the film it's mainly that it repeatedly bangs you over the head with its multiple metaphors and worse, has the characters vocalise comments that would have been better left to the audience to work out for themselves. It's also guilty of a slightly too clever ending that's likely to go over the heads of anyone not paying close attention in the opening scenes.

That's not to say there aren't a handful of lovely moments along the way, such as a chilling scene involving a swamp or the strangely beautiful finale. There are also lots of fascinating details, such as the ubiquitous gas masks (suggesting that the Americans are actually wreaking more havoc than the aliens with their incessant bombing), murals, protest signs and cartoons featuring the monsters on TV.

Worth seeing?
This is a beautifully made, engaging, offbeat road movie that marks writer-director Gareth Edwards out as a talent to watch. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Monsters (M)
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Content updated: 19/04/2019 17:14

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