"We've located one man and one female, We're headed there now. Come on, it's not safe, let's go."
Director, Gareth Edwards, would've never had the opportunity to direct Godzilla if it weren't for the success of his 2010 small indie film, Monsters. With a pretty interesting premise and some strong visual effects, Edwards managed to direct a low budget sci-fi film with a small crew and amateurish equipment pretty effectively. The location chosen for this film was also perfect and the scenery helped create a realistic atmosphere of this apocalyptic world. I actually enjoyed the performance from the two lead actors, but I have to admit the film did drag at times and despite its short runtime it still felt a bit long and tedious. I'm not one of those people who complain about not getting to see much of the monsters as long as I'm given an interesting and gripping story, but this film lacked that emotional engagement. I still have to give Edwards a lot of credit for managing to make a good looking sci-fi film with so little. He had an ambitious idea and he got excellent results from it. As a fan of the latest Godzilla remake, I have to give Monsters credit for giving Edwards the opportunity to show his talent with a bigger budget. I will definitely be looking forward to what this director does next.
The title cards during the opening credit scene states that "Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A space probe was launched to collect samples but broke up during re-entry over Mexico. Soon after new life forms began to appear and half of Mexico was quarantined as an Infected Zone. Today the Mexican & US military still struggle to contain 'the creatures'." In the very next scene we are introduced to an American journalist named Andrew (Scoot McNairy) who is sent to Costa Rica to help escort back his wealthy employer's daughter, Samantha (Whitney Able), who suffered a minor injury in an incident involving one of those creatures. While trying to head back to the United States they encounter a series of difficulties and are forced to go through the dangerous infected zone.
If you weren't familiar with Scoot McNairy before this film you will know his name by the end of this year because he has four films coming out (Non-Stop, Gone Girl, The Rover, and Frank). He gives a pretty decent performance here without standing out. The same could be said for Whitney Able although some scenes weren't very convincing. The human drama isn't really the strong point of this film, but the premise is interesting enough to keep us engaged and the visuals are satisfying. Unfortunately the best scenes can be seen in the trailer (like the one involving a jet floating in the river). The best moments for me weren't actually the scenes where the monsters could be seen, but rather the quiet scenes of the destruction and devastation they left behind. I enjoy the way in which Edwards teases his audience with these small moments, but unfortunately the execution never fully worked in the big scale of things. There were also some interesting allegories on the US immigration issue during the border crossing scenes although Edwards has admitted that it was unintentional. Monsters is unique and original, but if I had to compare this film to another one I would say it shares some similarities with District 9 although I don't think it's as great. The greatest thing about it is the atmosphere Edwards managed to create with such a low budget.