Monsters is the worst part of the recent Godzilla movie done really well. You can see why Gareth Edwards was asked to direct the newest version of the iconic monster based on his work here. What I believe was the issue with Edwards take on the Japanese icon is actually perfect for this smaller, much cheaper monster movie.
The problem I had with Godzilla was that it focused far too much on the characters and their experience of the events occurring and not enough on the creature himself. In Monsters, that is the perfect decision, stopping it falling into generic monster movie and becoming something much more interesting and in some cases scarier.
It follows the story of two central characters, Andrew and Samantha, played by Scott McNairy and Whitney Able respectively, who are trying to get back to the safety of America while avoiding the Monsters from the title. This isn’t a Jurassic Park style chase through woodland though but more of a smaller, “find yourself” journey which helps the characters and their relationship develop.
It means the emphasis is on McNairy and Able and they handle the responsibility very well. They ensure that you are invested in the characters, especially because they are so incompatible, with lives going in drastically different directions.
Edwards ensures that you are invested in their journey too. It isn’t a simple walk through the jungle but a journey faced with danger and the unexpected. They meet great characters, who build the story of the aliens without having to show them. From strange trees to a great sequence involving an abandoned suburban area, it’s a great testament to Edwards that he builds fear by showing impact rather than the creatures that created it.
This is when the biggest fault of the movie presents itself. It builds to an obvious conclusion and continues to ramp up the tension to the obvious reveal of what the audience has been teased with and wanting to see throughout the 90 minutes running time. When it does finally happen, it kind of occurs with little incident. Edwards is making a good point but it lacks the huge impact that it feels you are promised throughout the movie.
It’s a small complaint because this movie is about the two central performances and how they deal with a danger-filled environment. it’s the perfect example of how to present a decent science-fiction movie on a small budget.
Overall, Monsters is less about monsters and more about their impact on our world and is so much better because of it. Scott McNairy and Whitney Able hold the screen well, investing you in their characters and the dangerous environments that director Gareth Edwards creates. It’s just a shame that when the titular monsters are revealed, its done with a whimper rather than the huge bang you were hoping for.
Rating – 3.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)