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Monsters (SE)
BLU-RAY disk
Mar 3, 2011 By: Jaci Selby
Monsters (SE) order download
Director:
Gareth Edwards

Actors:
Scoot McNairy
Whitney Able

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Six years after a NASA probe carrying life samples from somewhere in our solar system crashes on re-entry, enormous alien creatures roam a quarantined section of North America. A reluctant journalist agrees to escort his boss's daughter through the Infected Zone along the US/Mexico border.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I heard little about this movie going into it, and assumed it was the run-of-the-mill, post-Apocalyptic monster movie. I predicted some stressful chase scenes, obnoxious social commentary and tired cliches. I was very pleasantly surprised. Every time I thought the story was going to go the way of JURASSIC PARK or DAWN OF THE DEAD, it didn't. It was beyond refreshing to see cultural stereotypes ignored, believable acting and actual decent dialogue. Without insulting the lead actors, Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able, I'd like to note it was also nice to see a movie not rely on obvious eye candy. These two looked real and felt real to me. No over-the-top pining or angst-ridden tension. Some may say this is dull or lacking chemistry, but to me it was subtle and refreshing. Not everything has to be in my face for me to grasp it, and most action/horror movies forget that. There is some blatant sociopolitical commentary ala DISTRICT 9, but where DISTRICT 9 shoves it in your face, MONSTERS is only mildly indicative of what goes on every single day with our neighbor to the south and in other places in the world. The director states this was unintentional though the imagery is iconic and irrepressible.

I know you just want to get to the monsters though. Without giving too much away, they are phenomenal. Gorgeous and terrifying, and seen just enough to satisfy curiosity. (I've heard some amazing theories about why the creatures look the way they do, and it made me think all the more about the possibilities nature can create with a little DNA.) All the more amazing? The budget at which they were produced. So many aspects of this movie rival and even outshine their big-budget counterparts. All done with a single-digit crew, two credited actors and in-house special effects. (In fact, most of the supporting roles were just locals on location improvising and speaking given lines.) This is even more impressive during the grand-scale sweeping scenes of South American scenery and the incredible close-ups of the creatures' eggs. The Blu-ray transfer is crisp and clean and the CGI stands up incredibly.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary with Gareth Edwards, Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able: Casual, light commentary with little quips explaining the name change of the movie, who some of the extras were and some self-deprecation on Edwards' part.

Deleted and Extended Scenes: Some long and kinda weak improvisation and boring scenes involving extended bureaucratic stuff that was thankfully edited out. Seriously, this is some boring shit.

HDNet: A Look At MONSTERS: A great juxtaposition of the basic raw footage and the polished finished product. McNairy and Able talk about just how basic this production was. (No make-up, no craft service table, etc) There's also a slightly ridiculous theatrical trailer.

Interview with Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able: The real-life couple talk about getting the parts of Andrew and Sam, including a homemade pitch by Gareth Edwards of his own storyboards, sketches and the genesis for his idea. Also some cutesy inside jokes and anecdotes. To me, at least, McNairy looks just like Geoff from Ace of Cakes, and sounds just like David Duchovny.

Interview with Gareth Edwards: Edwards talks about having to shelve this idea for so long and how he finally got his foot in the door of production. ("Let me direct and I'll do the effects for free.") Some of this repeats what he says in the NY Comic-Con clip. He also defends the blase feel of having alien monsters living among us after six years, comparing it to the apathy we now feel about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Visual Effects: Gareth Edwards sits in what looks like my living room and talks about his history in visual effects and animation. The producers talk about being impressed by Edwards' ability to create incredible visuals and drama with a small budget. There's also some cool before and after shots showing how the creatures and the giant wall were put in post-filming. We also get a glimpse into how Edwards' saw his film in his head while filming and interesting directions to the actors. "Wherever you look, Ill put something there later."

NY Comic-Con Discussion with Gareth Edwards: A brief and somewhat awkward panel where Edwards discusses how he came up with the creature design and drops a lot of f-bombs.

Behind the Scenes of MONSTERS: A long and sometimes lagging featurette that does make you appreciate the small budget and even smaller crew that made this incredibly sharp and finished production. Some funny scenes develop from the impromptu filming on location and improvisation on the cast's part.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Don't go in expecting a fast-paced frantic pace. The tense, creepy scenes are few and far between, but this works well with this storyline. It's easier to get to know these two characters without something jumping out every five seconds. Appreciate the beauty of nature and the bittersweet culture of a people living minutes from mortal danger, alongside a haunting soundtrack and you will enjoy this film.
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10:32AM on 03/07/2011

Agree 100%

I watched this just last night and found it quite refreshing to see a "monster movie" that didn't the use the same old formula. You believed these characters, believed in their situation and believed the creatures. Like you said, not a mile a minute thrill ride but a good story about two people just trying to get home and how they deal with a f'ed up situation.
I watched this just last night and found it quite refreshing to see a "monster movie" that didn't the use the same old formula. You believed these characters, believed in their situation and believed the creatures. Like you said, not a mile a minute thrill ride but a good story about two people just trying to get home and how they deal with a f'ed up situation.
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12:12PM on 03/03/2011
good review, glad to hear something refreshing about an alien movie with all the latest invasion movies coming out. i've been meaning to check this out for a while, even rented it but forgot about it and took it back to avoid a late fee. I hear it hit Netflix Instant today so i might make it my nightly movie.
good review, glad to hear something refreshing about an alien movie with all the latest invasion movies coming out. i've been meaning to check this out for a while, even rented it but forgot about it and took it back to avoid a late fee. I hear it hit Netflix Instant today so i might make it my nightly movie.
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