Directed by Gareth Edwards
15,000 Dollars. That's how much this movie cost to make.
That alone makes this a film worth watching. If only to drive home just how much more can be done with low-budget films that we normally see.
But even with the low-budget, what we get here is a nicely-paced love story set against a backdrop of alien invasion.
For those not familiar, Monsters is the story of two people, trying to make their way back from Central America to the US, through what is now a quarantine zone making up most up Northern Mexico. It seems that six years ago, a space probe crash landed, seeding alien life throughout the region. Now, giant quid-like monsters roam the countryside, occasionally running rampant in Mexican cities. Luckily, the US built a giant wall to keep them out.
Or will it?
But all of that is really background. Setting.
The real story is about two people who slowly fall in love as they make their way through the quarantined area, in an attempt to get back to the US.
It's not a great story. It's not much of a story at all, really. And there's some sort of political subtext about US/Central American relations where the giant wall serves as a metaphor for an ultimately pointless attempt to keep "aliens" from entering the States.
But what it does have is heart. The characters are natural, with a great deal of improved dialogue. The threats are interesting. And the monsters are gorgeous.
Yes, it's a little slow, but this is an attempt at a beautiful, thoughtful film with a very nice sci-fi setting, and in my opinion succeeds far more than last year's District 9 - which is the film I've most heard compared to this one.
District 9 was more entertaining, don't get me wrong. But District 9 was a pretty stupid film at its core. Monsters has a bit more intelligence to it (despite some cringe-worthy moments) and doesn't fall back on gore and slapstick to keep the audience entertained. Here, the entertainment comes from the actual film-making, cinematography, and effects.
This is well worth a look. More satisfying than District 9, but not as entertaining.