Aliens in a lot of movies usually come to Earth to kill us. For the past few decades this has been the main synopses of many sci-fi movies. A few times they decided to dole out hugs (‘E.T.’, ‘Starman’) or just goof around (‘Stitch’, ‘Galaxy Quest’). With Gareth Edwards’ 2010 film ‘Monsters’ however, our film in question, NASA decides to send a probe to try and monitor a near by planet that supposedly has life. It breaks up upon return and Mexico is overrun by malevolent aliens a few years later. A photographer is tasked with finding his bosses daughter amidst the chaos and escorting her back to the USA.
Apparently with the giant tentacle monsters that land on Earth in ‘Monsters’ their job was to bore us to death, and the movie is essentially watching two people walk around beautiful parts of Mexico for 1 hour and 30 minutes, before it abruptly ends. The story is completely absent of any kind of context, except whats said in the first paragraph. The aliens aren’t explained, their home world isn’t explored, and nothing is learned about them as they barely have any interactions with the humans.
The characters are one dimensional and under-developed. Andrew Kaulder (McNairy), the main guy, is made out to be emotionless in the beginning 30 minutes of the film, but this doesn’t really lead his character anywhere. Sam Wynden (Able), the main female protagonist, is made out to be a flake, and similarly, this goes nowhere as well. All of this lack of character development whilst the characters just meander around Mexico taking in the sights and sounds, doesn’t particularly make for an interesting watch. This affects the tone of the movie completely and strips the audience of any kind of drama or importance they are trying to place. There’s even one part where Whitney says she can’t walk anymore and Andrew finds a Mayan temple. No, really. So the first thing they do is hike the 3,000 stairs up to the top of the temple and talk about inane things till nightfall. This doesn’t seem to make any sense when more then half of Mexico is infested with killer aliens!
Throughout the movie there are beautiful daytime shots of the vast landscapes of Mexico, however this was countered by the nearly unseeable night time scenes that were so poorly lit it made it near impossible to see what was happening, rendering a lot of the action scenes utterly worthless. Some scenes were so dark that it was like listening to a radio rather then watching a movie. There are a few times that the characters wait it out and seem to catch up to the action during the day. This is worthless. They expect us to care about people who wander out into the dark when in the beginning the movie emphasises that the aliens strike at night time. Death is altogether less dramatic when the characters are intentionally putting themselves in danger.
This film is boring. It is lacking in just about everything that makes a film a film, or at least a watchable film. It has an okay soundtrack and beautiful scenery, but that’s about it. The two main characters are totally devoid of any kind of normal thought or actions, and their chemistry is nonexistent and woefully contrived. There’s no memorable lines or memorable side characters and then there’s the fact that nothing happens after the first 30 minutes – there really isn’t anything here! Skip it.
DIRECTOR: GARETH EDWARDS
STARRING: SCOOT MCNAIRY, WHITNEY ABLE, MARIO ZUNIGA BENAVIDES