Monsters Review

“... MONSTERS Is One Of Those Pictures That Many A Typical Critic Might Latch Onto Due To Its Ostentatious Presentation, But I'm In The Category Of Simply Calling It As It Is...”

March 29th, 2011

Take the following moments to picture this. . . A science fiction film in which literal monsters, terror and intensity are replaced with metaphorical representations of present day issues both social and political. Now, place two rather unlikeable people into the mix and observe them as they trot about a "treacherous" land and discuss such themes as "love" and "identity" as they occasionally become frustrated with one another and toss subtle, tender gazes back and forth. Sound like an entertaining foray into sci-fi? Yeah, didn't think so. MONSTERS is one of those flicks that I just don't get. All of the hype, all of the acclaim, all of the positive reviews--to all of that I simply say, "Really?"

The so-thin-it's-nearly-invisible narrative involves a young woman and the man charged with escorting her back to her father. During this prolonged escort mission, the soon-to-be-couple encounter. . . Well. . . Nothing really. You'd think actual monsters, but no. The film's title creatures are only given about five minutes of actual screen time. The rest of the feature's length is built upon bare-bones dialogue combined with obvious improvisation, various scenic shots, and the mere possibility of an alien attack--that's right, no actual attacks outside of some vague imagery.

If there's one big, gaping, gnashing issue that I have here, it's that--as I hinted at above--the "monsters" themselves are reserved as a minor plot point instead of the main focus. If you're going to call a movie "MONSTERS", you damn well better deliver on it. Only during the incredibly brief climax are we given any actual view of them. Before this, only extremely minimal glimpses of the creature's body are given, as well as a short, night-vision tease during the film's introduction. I understand that the entire utilization of the term "monsters" was to define a metaphorical element and not simply a literal one, but director Gareth Edwards has failed on that count as well. 99% of the picture is devoid of any violent content, thus, the depiction of "who's really the monster here--us or the beasts we face?" becomes utterly lost. Instead, the film manipulates sequences into downright tension-less moments of minute monsterdom and incredibly dull scenes of the lead protagonists discussing and pondering the current events--despite the fact that they have nothing relevant to say; nothing you haven't already had dragged across your eardrums. This all makes for an incredibly pretentious watch as the focus isn't placed upon harrowing, creative, or entertaining storytelling; it's placed upon making a point bereft of anything new to say. Again, it feels like all of these recent imitators of DISCTRICT 9 all want the glory and awe which it garnered, but they're completely negligent as to what made it such a powerful science fiction epic. It was a statement, a love story, and a brilliant idea all melded perfectly together into a cohesive whole. MONSTERS and BATTLE: LA alike have simply taken concepts of which they thought were the driving force of said film, and replicated it without any true originality, understanding or heart.

For what it is, however, MONSTERS does supply some nice, brightly lit cinematography on its exterior locations as well as some moody mist-coated shots as well. Set quite well against this are the digital effects which encompass the near entirety of the military vehicles (both operating and wrecked), as well as the octopus-looking monsters themselves. Sadly, while they were well-modeled and lit, nothing about them cried ingenuity; instead feeling like a combination of other, better ideas. Even the "whale-call" it makes is reminiscent to the cry of HALF-LIFE: 2's Striders (except y'know, in that game it's an intensely foreshadowing sound of doom).

MONSTERS is one of those pictures that many a typical critic might latch onto due to its ostentatious presentation, but I'm in the category of simply calling it as it is. The film's themes and messages are monotonous and poorly displayed, the science fiction nearly absent from the entire script, and the love story forced and unrealistic. This is the kind of project that might have worked as a ten-minute short film, but as it is, MONSTERS is simply a big piece of indie-hype which fails to deliver in nearly all categories.


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  • bryanyentz • 3 years ago

    @ Frank Tower,

    Great, another one of these...

    In regards to the "color to the blind" statement. . . Get over yourself. I GET that this was supposed to be about the people. I GET that this was supposed to be about love and relationships--as I stated in the review. I GET that the depiction of "monsters" was metaphorical in nature. HOWEVER, as I already mentioned--the EXECUTION of such themes was poor to say the least. While it's fine to have such content (and which I eagerly promote), the director's depiction herein was messy to say the least. I'll reiterate, the relationship between the protagonists was dull, unrealistic, lacking in depth and whenever either of them opened their mouth, nothing meaningful came out. Instead, we're offered vapid lines as the characters ponder to themselves before they finally witness the "beauty" of the beasts which parallel the conflict occurring in their own lives--now mingled. My issue is that this could have been ANY other movie due to the fact that the science fiction element was so minimal it was practically non-existent. Nothing would have been lost had the aliens been taken out. As I mentioned, when you have such science fiction films of high-caliber like the more recent DISTRICT 9, drivel such as this pales. DISTRICT 9 contained EVERY message MONSTERS wanted to convey, but it properly paced it against a backdrop of proper storytelling. I GET that MONSTERS was a "low budget" indie affair with a largely improvised script (which shows terribly) and was supposed to be deep with its limited effects and literal depiction--but I don't care. I don't care how pretentious a film wants to be simply because it can. Plain and simple, I don't buy into that stigma. I pick up what the filmmakers herein were putting down but sometimes sh*t is sh*t.

    Again, this could have been ANY love story with the same messages and actions, but when you place a tag like "MONSTERS", "ALIENS", "SCI-FI", you had damn well justify such a choice. Again, because every element alluding to fictional material was so minute and poorly handled, they should have canned it all together.

    I also wouldn't even place SIGNS into the same sentence as this flick, as again, SIGNS was directed with a properly structured narrative; one whose themes were placed against effectively subtle images.

    So with all of that, you're not the only one that "got it", you're just one of the many that decided pretension makes a movie good.


    • Frank-Tower • 3 years ago

      Er, guys, this is NOT a monster movie. It is, in fact, all about relationships. Think M. Night Shyamalan and "Signs" But I think I'm wasting my time here trying to explain the sensation of color to the color-blind.


      • bryanyentz • 4 years ago

        And thanks for reading, Sly!


        • bryanyentz • 4 years ago

          Haha, thanks, Sly! Yeah, I didn't think THE AMERICAN's trailer was any good so I thought I'd avoid it. My friend then saw it and said the EXACT same thing you just mentioned about it. Glad I passed. As for flicks like this one, I think pretension gets the best of critics when they watch it, "Ooh, this scene is slow, empty and devoid of anything worthwhile... It MUST have some sort of deep-seated message! Amazing!"


          • slysnide • 4 years ago

            @bryanyentz: This film sounds similar to scores of other ominously titled films which fail to deliver on so many levels. A recent film which comes to mind is "The American" (2010) which was about the most droll film I've ever sat through. Horrible dialogue, and a story which was stretched into 98 or so minutes when it could've been told in 30 without missing a beat. Great honest review man! I love it when people put such crap in its place.


            • bryanyentz • 4 years ago

              Thanks, for all the of the comments everyone.

              And yeah, Skywise, I gain the difference in budget, but it's understandable when you consider that they really didn't need a large budget for MONSTERS. It was really just a bunch of scenic shots with people improvising within them. The most amount of money would most likely have just gone to effects. So, even though Monsters deserves props for working on tight funds, it really didn't do anything with it.

              And thanks, Bawnian, let me know what you think.

              And thanks, Boondock, I completely agree: DRASTICALLY overrated.


              • combatmadness360 • 4 years ago

                I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who hated this film. This movie is a piece of utter overrated bullsh*t!!!!!!!! great review!


                • bawnian-dexeus • 4 years ago

                  This movie is still on my Instant Queue, edging to see it, either way, good review


                  • skywise • 4 years ago

                    But i know, some might say i missed the point of the film.


                    • skywise • 4 years ago

                      Nice review but if your going to compare District 9 and Mosters it is important to point out that Monsters was filmed for a mere $15,000 (you read that right) and District 9 was make for around 30 million.

                      But still, i agree: if your going to put the word Monsters on your movie and make it clear that it features monsters of some damn well better make it happen and happen BIG!