Friday, October 17, 2014

Movie Review: Monsters (2010)

Monsters (2010) written and directed by Gareth Edwards

Six years after a NASA ship carrying evidence of alien life forms crashed into northern Mexico, the zone between the USA and Mexico has been dubbed "The Infected Zone." Strange alien monsters have spawned there. Occasionally they come out of the zone and attack humans on either side. The USA has built a great big wall to keep them out. The Mexicans have some high-voltage wires up. Naturally there are more attacks in Mexico. American photographer Andrew Kaulder is in Mexico trying to get pictures for his newspaper of a live creature or of the human toll the creatures' attacks have taken. The owner of the paper is concerned because his daughter Sam is in Mexico as a tourist and needs help getting back to America. Kaulder's not so interested in helping out but she is the boss's daughter, so he does. They make the journey back to America through the monster-infested landscape.

It becomes clear early on that the toughest monsters to get past are the human ones. The guy selling ferry tickets is charging 5000 American dollars for one ticket back to the States. Others are just as greedy. Kaulder himself isn't the best person. He's on the lookout for a picture of a dead child since the paper will pay $50,000. Pictures of happy children get nothing. He does have a certain basic decency about him and he rises to the occasion as the movie progresses. Sam is troubled by what's going on and clearly has a strained relationship with her fiance back in America. She's quite resourceful and not some damsel in distress, which is a refreshing change for a movie like this.

Even with all the bleakness, the movie still has many moments of beauty and wonder. Kaulder and Sam meet a family who gives them shelter for the night and food and water for their journey. The Mexican countryside is beautiful in spite of the occasional signs of devastation (burned-iout tanks or downed fighters or ravaged buildings). The ending is surprisingly poignant.

Monsters is a fascinating take on the alien invasion film and well worth seeing.

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