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Review – “Monsters” is More Roar than Bite

“Monsters” is a film that has rolled out in time for the Halloween season.  Unfortunately, there’s more sightseeing than terror in this giant monster flick.

Six years ago, a NASA space shuttle crashed somewhere in the remote forests of Mexico.  Apparently, space creature spores had hitched a ride and found the perfect place to spawn on terra firma.

Presently, a news photographer, Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy), staying south of the infected zone has been asked by a news publisher (who he has freelanced for) to escort his daughter, Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able), safely back to the United States.
A chance for Samantha to take an expensive ferry ride is dashed when Andrew forgets Samantha’s passport in a sleazy hotel room.  A prostitute that Andrew bedded the night before has stolen his money and any important documents he was carrying.  Forced to take an alternate route, the Americans hire guides to take them through the infected zone for a modest price of $5000.  The guides lead them over the rivers and through the rain forests.  Monsters are heard and the destruction they leave in their wake is evident, but the creatures are never seen.

Later, while hitching rides in pick-up trucks, Andrew and Samantha are heading  through the rain forest when the vehicles in their group are suddenly attacked.  All of the occupants are killed, except for the Americanos.  Andrew and Samantha are now left on their own to wander north to their destination.  Going through this ordeal causes the two gringos to bond and form a very close relationship.

Walking miles upon miles, the couple finally reach “The Great Wall” erected along the border of Mexico and the United States.  It is a monumental structure and a marvel of engineering.  It is designed to halt any progression of the infection into American territory.  Unfortunately, the barrier has failed.

Convincingly acted, “Monsters” dwells little on the Cthulhu-esque space creatures.  However, it does fixate on the love that grows between Andrew and Samantha.  This bond is forged at the onset of their journey.  During their sojourn, Andrew protects and cares for Samantha.  This is the same type of bond that usually develops between individuals who have served through combat together.
Unfortunately, the love story is not strong enough to move the story along.  There is a lot of silent moments in the film, which would occur naturally, but this would have been a prime opportunity to add some depth to the characters and define them a little more than the superficial and almost cookie cutter means that director/writer Gareth Edwards has employed.

Truly “Monsters” is not all bad.  Some of the scenes are memorable due to sheer imagery.  The scene with the crashed jet fighter coming out of the water and sinking back into the depths adds some menacing and suspenseful moments.  The grandeur of the border wall is spectacular.  This would make one wonder and possibly ask at the same time, “How large are these creatures?”  There are some great shots of the monsters, but they are not seen in their entirety until the last moments of the film.

Honestly, “Monsters” is a love story held together with creature glue.  If you’re expecting to see aliens versus military type battles that were similar to “District 9,” then you’re in for a disappointment.  Some critics have argued and compared “Monsters” to “District 9.”  What must be confirmed here is, there is no comparison!