Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review: Monsters (2010)

My gut reaction to Gareth Edwards' Monsters was that it was complete shit, but perhaps that was a slight overreaction. I have to give credit where credit is due and the fact that the film tries to be more than meets the eye should be commended, but it's a slippery slope and ultimately, it succumbs to its lofty, ever-changing motivations - it's more of an "okay, I get what you're doing, but no thanks" kind of thing.
Monsters is never the creature-feature genre film that most people will be expecting when they dive into it. As it evolves, it flips the switch from a hazardous road movie to slow-burning love story to U.S.-Mexico border-trafficking political allegory.
The problem is that it speaks too loudly and arrives too late on the heels of James Cameron's Avatar and Neil Blomkamp's District 9 - both message-laden science-fiction efforts that used colonization and alien invasion respectively to paint portraits of man's primal nature of domination. (Here, the U.S. soldiers hum "Ride of the Valkyries" in their humvee - how barbaric!) 
It does become clear that Edwards has a keen visual eye and is working from a good place (his clever, out-of-focus cinematography is used well, especially in the final shot), but the film ultimately can't balance both its obvious political and ecological undertones with its science-fiction setting. To put it plainly, those out for blood will be thoroughly disappointed - and who can blame them? [C]

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