Director: Gareth Edwards
Writers: Gareth Edwards
Principal cast: Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able
Release date: 3rd December 2010.
When a returning space probe crash lands into Central America with it's alien cargo, new life forms begin to appear transforming Mexico into an infected zone inhabited by rampaging alien wildlife.
As the authorities attempt to wage a cleansing war against these creatures an American photographer located south of border is entrusted with escorting his employer's daughter back to the US via the disaster area.
Quite simply Edwards' sci fi shoestring epic starring two professional actors and shot on a very modest budget manages to outclass all the recent mega blockbusters from the likes of Spielberg, Cameron, Lucas and Co.
It's an astonishingly assured and at times subtle piece of film making from a first time director and manages to capture the intelligence and themes of The Andromeda Strain (1971) whilst being influenced by the H.G. Wells evergreen classic War of the Worlds.
Edwards & Co dig deeper and the film is also a bonding road movie with a romantic element and one can maybe detect an underlying social commentary on man's relationship with nature and war on climate change.
Part of the film resembles Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation (2003) in camera work, mood and a gradual coming together of two American souls in a foreign country.
McNairy is suitably roguish as the professional photographer maybe running away from parental responsibilities and risking life to find the picture that will make his name.
Likewise, Able with her blondish beautiful looks is instantly believable as the well educated marine biologist and rich daughter stranded abroad amidst the ongoing chaos.
As for the aliens we glimpse them early on from afar, but it's the chaos they cause to human society which is where the film cleverly outclasses it's contemporaries. War and the disturbance of these rampaging 'giant squids' has become everyday, ongoing and not about winning but containment.
The journey up river has echoes of Apocalypse Now (1979) as each bend in the river slowly reveals the devastation left behind by the creatures and gradually raises the level of tension. Whilst the rampaging jungle attack scene recalls the T-Rex attack from Jurassic Park (1993).
Edwards never over cooks his scenes and the creatures only appear when necessary, focus is on his human characters at all times and how they adapt to the ever increasing danger. The film can best be described as a romantic travelogue set against an alien invasion epic. It's a strange brew that works incredibly well.
You may wish to read all kinds of deeper themes on the state of world today into the film's plot but ultimately Monsters is also a good old sci fi disaster romp with the time trusted theme of mismatched souls on the road together.
Lost in Translation meets War of the Worlds and quite possibly the sleeper hit of the festive season, Monsters delivers in every department and is a welcome change to the standard mega budgeted blockbuster. A must see.