MONSTERS  review
March 6, 2011 · Print This Article
I wish I could now be recommending to you a great very low budget, sci-fi thriller, but I cannot do that for MONSTERS. I thought Netflix might have really discovered a hidden gem of a movie for me, something like a much lower budget but nonetheless interesting DISTRICT 9. Starting with the title being very lazily and inappropriately applied, such criticisms can trickle down all the way to the screenplay, characters and pacing.
There is one thing great about MONSTERS, its premise. I hope it gets remade with a competent screenwriter who changes the characters and provides an actual plot that makes us care what happens. As mentioned, the premise is super interesting . . . scientists discover life within our solar system, a probe is sent to bring back samples, as it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere it breaks up and crashes into Mexico near the U.S. border. The samples infect the area causing new, monstrous, creatures to emerge from the jungle. A huge infection zone is created, with the U.S. having a wall the size of the Hoover Dam for protection, while on the Mexican side there is basically only a batting cage fence. Very cool setup, but it is nearly totally wasted.
There really only are two characters, an American photographer working for a large publication who has been in Mexico photographing the carnage. Sounds good right? Well, he is using a measly Canon 40D, which already two generations old in our timeline, never mind the movies, he has no external flash, but worst of all he cannot even speak Spanish! How hard can it be to find someone bilingual to send to photograph the area?? Plus he has no redeeming qualities, is an idiotic hedonist, and basically screws everything up because he is a drunkard.
The other character is a semi-attractive blonde pixie of a girl, also American, and she just happens to be the daughter of the owner of the publication the photographer works for. Why in the world is this rich girl in such a crazy dangerous area? Who knows. Through the photographer’s idiocy, her once safe chance to leave Mexico and return to the U.S. via ferry is wasted. Does she even express one word of anger toward him? No. I was like, “umm, do you even have a pulse?” Gandhi would have blown his top even.
I really need to someday write my own screenplay completely devoid of IDIOT characters. Or, if there are idiots, they are very soon killed or suffer grave consequences for being idiots, not rewarded with continuing to survive despite being total idiots.
They have to spend the night on the border of the infected zone. The fence is literally 10 feet from the back of their hotel. Me? I would already be an expert on the creatures. I would be packing the most powerful gun that is practical to carry and I would be on CONSTANT alert. How do the photographer and pixie spend that night? Getting drunk and ambling around the border town. Idiots. Oh, and early the pixie was attacked by a creature miles from the border of the infected zone. So it’s really hard to know what is dangerous and what is not.
Also, why just a ferry to leave the country? There are no airports anymore? Why put the ferry RIGHT ON THE BORDER of the infected zone? Why make people travel right to the edge of the fence? Why not put the ferries way further down the coast so people do not have to come anywhere near there? Just preposterous plot holes.
So since the idiot photographer blows her chance to leave via ferry, he accompanies her on a super dangerous land route THROUGH the infected zone just before the monsters start their seasonal migrations. She is totally ok and calm about this. She’s just like, ok, let’s do this.
The first 30 minutes of the 90-minute movie you are just waiting for the bad thing to happen that will bone them into having to take a dangerous way out. This takes way, way too long to happen, especially since we learn little about the characters and care about them even less.
Super excitement once they are in the infected zone? Umm, no. Some mercenaries who apparently live in the infected zone and clearly say that if you do not mess with the monsters, they leave you alone. So obviously a few minutes later an unprovoked attack kills them all.
And the monsters? They are just walking octopi. They look JUST like an octopus. Can you not think up something creative at all? And they are HUGE. Why is everyone, including the U.S. army, only equipped with machine guns that would have a hard time stopping an elephant, let along a creature five times that size. Preposterous.
The movie ends with an unbelievable whimper. Everything is crazy easy for the two idiots. At their final waiting/hiding spot, they portray yet again more idiotic behavior, taking less precautions than I do crossing the street in day light in my own neighborhood! You just see a huge carcass of a monster, you think you would be a bit cautious. Nope. You need to get to shelter while there is still daylight. There are abandoned cars all around. Do you try each one to see if it still works? Nope. We’ll just explore some abandoned buildings so that we have to end up walking down a long road in the dark. Idiotic.
Great concept, extraordinarily poor usage of that concept. Someone please take this premise and make a proper movie with it. I will even help you write the script.