movie film review | chris tookey


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  Monsters Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
6.62 /10
Andrew - Scoot McNairy, Samantha - Whitney Able
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Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Written by: Gareth Edwards

Released: 2010
Origin: UK
Colour: C
Length: 93

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A stunning piece of work that packs a devastating emotional wallop.
(Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
With two strong central performances, a wonderfully genuine style, and some daring filmmaking decisions, Monsters will have a Godzilla-sized following develop over the next few years.
(Brian Tallerico,
A sharp little low-fi monster movie operating from a tantalizing premise.
(Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune)
Edwards is brilliant at evoking the awe and beauty he has been building toward, and at last we fully realize the film's ambitious arc. I think the lesson may be: Life has its reasons. Motives are pretty universal. Monsters are in the eye of the beholder.
(Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
Monsters isn't slick or expensive enough to be a big pop hit - compared to a modestly scaled CGI flick like District 9, Monsters is a home movie - but it also isn't slow or mumbly or affectless enough to become a critic's darling. Considering that Edwards spent a reported $15,000 on the film, the effects are amazingly good. Instead, this is a '70s-style hybrid, a genre movie with a guy, a girl and some thrills and chills that also embodies some artistic ambition and sharp-eyed social criticism (both of which the viewer is free to take or leave). For me, though, the fact that Edwards shot in real places as he found them, and relied on the natural chemistry between a real-life couple (Able and McNairy are now married), lends this outlandish story much of its realism, power and suspense. Maybe Mexico and Guatemala and Belize are not literally infested with giant alien squid-creatures, but they are disaster areas in many ways, and as Edwards covertly suggests, those of us north of the border bear some responsibility for that. And then there's the film's gorgeous final scene, shot at an abandoned gas station in south Texas, in which all the themes of Monsters coalesce in a few minutes of spectacular cinematic poetry. Complain about this film's shortcomings all you want, tell me I'm overpraising it, etc. Fine. But check that out, and then try to tell me it's not one of the best movie endings you've ever seen.
(Andrew O’Hehir, Salon)
To its ultimate credit, Monsters is a little sci-fi movie with big monsters that understands first that you must have interesting characters. And those characters must fit inside of an interesting narrative. And that narrative must be supported by interesting visuals. Edwards accomplishes all of this, on his first try. Considering he did it on a shoe-string, hoping in the back of trucks to go from location-to-location, and did it with completely improvised dialogue and, save for the two leads, a group of non-actors, it makes it all that much more impressive.
(Neil Miller, Film School Rejects)
Touted by many as the new District 9, alien invasion film Monsters has a lot to live up to. Amazingly, Gareth Edwards’ debut feature surpasses the hype. A cracking road movie that’s clever, resonant and, despite a tiny budget, visually stunning, Monsters heralds the arrival of a new talent.
(Pierre de Villiers, TNT Magazine)
A mesmerising experience at the cinema and a magic career-making debut from Edwards.
(Glenn Dunks, Trespass)
For lovers of the genre; atmospheric and thoughtful
(Julie Rigg, MovieTime, ABC Radio National)
Pays off with one of the most beautiful and unforgettable endings you'll witness to a movie all year.
(Leigh Paatsch, Herald Sun, Australia)
A brave and challenging film with much to offer the discerning film lover, hardly predictable and inventively made
(Andrew L. Urban, Urban Cinefile, Austraia)
With its improvised dialogue and non-professional actors to act as props to the two leads, writer director Gareth Edwards' vision is unusual in that he allows the locations to propel the story arc
(Louise Keller, Urban Cinefile, Austraia)
The marketers are pushing Monsters as "this year's District 9" but Gareth Edwards' modern, moody alien-invasion take on The African Queen is arguably a better film.
(Simon Foster,
Monsters pulls off the rare feat of weaving a serious and meaningful narrative around its aliens.
(Katerina Sakkas, FILMINK, Australia)
Borrowing the handheld lensing and easy pace of a low-budget character piece, director Gareth Edwards, a CGI artist by trade, has created a dystopian landscape that’s so naturalistic, it’s uncanny. As a writer, he’s a less successful realist, resorting to some pretty hoary contrivances to get and keep his boy and girl in the same space for the film’s duration, and the largely improvised post-mumble performances don’t add much depth. The film peaks, dramatically and creatively, with an alien mating dance of astonishing verisimilitude.
(Karina Longworth, Village Voice)
Monsters, by first-time English director Gareth Edwards, begins where most alien invasion movies end.
(Tim Martain, The Mercury)
Only distinguishable from a Hollywood alien invasion movie, like Skyline, in one way. It's actually REALLY good.
(Robbie Collin, News of the World)
Monsters has been widely, and with good reason, compared to Neill Blomkamp's apartheid satire District 9, which also imagined extra-terrestrials in a post-awe spirit... Both the satire and the human story are more involving than in District 9, and McNairy, in particular, gives an excellent and very convincing performance. This is a very postmodern sci-fi, with its downbeat approach to the monsters themselves, but with a hugely involving love story. Edwards's movie – he writes, directs, produces and creates visual effects – has also drawn explicitly on classic models. He channels the upriver nightmares of Herzog and Coppola, with a strong streak of Spielbergian wonder at the sight of two aliens apparently dancing, or communicating, or having sex – an epiphany that sets the seal on the humans' relationship. And the final sequence in which Kaulder and Sam gaze at the protective great wall America has created, musing on how America looks from the outside, is a superb final gesture: mysterious, daunting and sad. The idea of a "journey" has become absurd in the age of reality TV. Yet this one has really meant something.
(Peter Bradshaw, Guardian)
The journey by train, bus, truck, boat and finally foot involves horrific experiences and encounters, plausibly handled, with remarkable special effects and discreet glimpses of the tentacular creatures that walk the land. The film feeds on the current American paranoia about threats from south of the Rio Grande and is a remarkable piece of work, full of neat touches.
(Philip French, Observer)
Desperate comparisons have been made with District 9 and Cloverfield (not least by the film’s own marketing), but the digitally enhanced texture of the atmospheric Monsters – with its weatherbeaten signs, barely glimpsed creatures and edgy encounters – evokes a sweaty, nervous reality rather than a clean, hard-edged artificiality. With the notable exception of the moving monster climax, the best scenes are the quiet, human ones, such as Kaulder flirting with Sam in a seedy hotel while scenes of monster mayhem are only glimpsed on a fuzzy black-and-white TV set. There’s an implicit political dimension too, with constant American bombing raids and a border wall designed to keep unwanted aliens out of the US.
(Nigel Floyd, Time Out)

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