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3 Sep 2010

Movie Review: Monsters

Monsters was easily one of the most hyped movies being shown at last weekend's FrightFest, with its low budget an amazing CGI. However, it didn't quite manage to live up to its promise.

Monsters starts 7 years after a satellite crash, after which "creatures" start to come to earth. Fearing for their safety, humankind eventually force them into specialised "Infected Zones". The main plot line  follows the journey of two characters, Whitney and Scoot, who have to travel through an "Infected Zone" in Mexico to get back to America. On the whole, the movie never really settles on a single genre, shifting from adventure to romance constantly, but never being able to intertwine the two together, leaving for an experience that is somewhat mixed.

As for the set-pieces, they are some of the best given the small budget. Director Gareth Edwards used his laptop to create most of the special effects, and it shows on some of the close ups, with some fine details being left out (such as skin texture). However, when the camera zooms out to show the sheer size of the creatures, the CGI is on par with the likes of District 9. The computer effects also shine during the landscape scenes, where ruined buildings are shown in their masses, each one being very realistic. However, all of the CGI never really manages to leave a lasting impression, with these scenes being few and far between, leaving for a movie that is 25% monsters, 50% walking and 25% romance scenes, and a movie with some of the oddest pacing I have seen in a while.

To the director's credit, around 40% of the movie was improvised, leading to a movie that is largely unpredictable. For example, a scene with some cows was improvised, and expertly highlights the paranoia felt by the characters. The movie also features many armed guards to transport the main characters, showing how dangerous the "creatures" are, even though these real armed guards were there to protect the cast and filming crew from militia.

As for the acting, the two actors (Andrew Kaulder and Samantha Wynden) are a couple off the screen aswell, and it shows. The chemistry between the two is relentless and true, making their relationship very realistic and believable. Their encounters with the varied locals is also genuinely entertaining. Given that most of these people were not meant to be in the movie, it makes the writing seem even more realistic that it would have otherwise been.

In the end,the set pieces are large and impressive, especially given that 40 per cent was improvised (according to the director). However, my biggest gripe with it is that it doesn't give the audience enough, with it's large set pieces being few and far between. In the end, it aspired to be the new District 9, but just ends up being the equivalent of it's little brother rather than it's more successful sibling.

Total Score: 7 out of 10

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