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Magnet Releasing ; 94 minutes

Director: Gareth Edwards

Written by on November 4, 2010 

Gareth Edwards’ directorial debut will be lamented by many as an achievement for the scope it achieves with its budget. It’ll be declared as an ambitious experiment, but Monsters isn’t just an aspiring practice in effects work, but also a compelling and entertaining road trip story.

The most suitable way to describe Monsters is as that genre of film. Imagine Rob Reiner‘s The Sure Thing, but set in Mexico with monsters tossed in. The two leads, Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able) and Andrew Caulder (Scoot McNairy), start off as a bit of opposites. Andrew is a cheap opportunist, and that’s all Samantha thinks of him as. Andrew’s job is to escort her safely across the U.S. border to get her back safe and sound to her father and fiance; you get this bit from a dodgy ADR phone call moment, and most of the ADR is just as shoddy.

If you’re unable to to feel engrossed in Samantha and Andrew, Monsters will be an irritating experience. Many will be hoping and expecting Cloverfield, and it’s nothing like Matt Reeves monster-attack film; there’s no constant running and screaming. The opening, which does a fantastic job setting up the universe, will surely convince more audience members they’re in for a survival story, and it’s simply not that. It’s a more of a subtle love story. There’s no witty banter between the two leads, butting heads, or all the cheese factors we’ve seen before in dynamics like this.

The FX is what many will leave the theater awed by, and that’s understandable. Gareth Edwards has managed to make a genuine visual spectacle with a minimal budget. The monsters themselves are impressive and well designed. You only get glimpses of them at nighttime, but they’re not completely hidden and you even get a satisfying clear look at one in the opening scene. They’re well designed and don’t come off as creatures from a cheesy SyFy channel film.

For a film of with a broad sense of scope, in terms of storytelling, you wish Edwards brought that same epic-ness to it. This a 2 1/2 hour film condensed down to something smaller. The universe created here is one you want to stay in longer and learn more about. Hopefully, Monsters finds an audience that recognizes its audacity so we can see more of Edwards’ monster scattered world; t’s a fun one with a wild range of potential for the many directions it could go.

Monsters is now in theaters and on VOD. Check out our video interview with Gareth Edwards here.


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