Gareth Edwards is the director of the blockbuster Godzilla remake that was released a couple of months ago. Because I could not get to the theater and shell out twelve bucks for a ticket and twenty bucks for snacks to watch Godzilla (I am just not enough of a fanboy for this big reptile monster), I decided that I wanted to watch the movie that gave Edwards, a relatively obscure director, the job of a lifetime. Monsters came out in 2010 and have, you guessed it, monsters in it. But how Edwards approaches the monsters and the characters who encounter the monsters and run for their lives is what makes this film interesting.
In the near future, a part of Mexico is blocked off because of aliens. Aliens have landed and are monstrously large creatures with no form of intelligible communication or ability to reason. They just prowl the land, attacking humans when ever they come into contact with them. Andrew, a cynical journalist, is in the non-blocked off area of Mexico trying to understand this monster problem. While he is on assignment, he gets a call from his boss saying that he must get the daughter of the owner of the newspaper out of Mexico before the high alien season begins. He can’t refuse, but is reluctant to take this privileged young thing anywhere. They journey towards the border and the blocked off area, only to encounter obstacle after obstacle. Along the way they talk about life, love and happiness.
This is a monster movie that isn’t terribly concerned about the monsters. It is more about Andrew and Samantha’s relationship and the people they meet as they struggle to get out. Everyone outside of the two main characters are non-actors which gives the movie a palpable sense of reality. As Andrew and Samantha traverse this foreign land, they are open to the sympathy of the people and they reality of their destitute situation. Even people who don’t live in the blocked off area are traumatized by military sanctions and alien attacks. And yet they choose to still live exactly where they have lived their whole lives. The alien attacks have become a part of their everyday lives and even sometimes how they can earn a living. It is absurd what people will do to feed their families.
Humanity is injected in every aspect of the film. Andrew is at first an unfeeling bastard hell-bent on dropping Samantha off at the nearest port and giving her over to someone else. But as the film goes on, he begins to want to protect her and lead her to safety no matter the circumstances. The same can be said about the aliens themselves. At the beginning of the film, we only see the devastation that they have reeked. We see them as aggressive brutes hell bend on destruction. Towards the end of the movie, we get to see another side of these massive aliens. While Andrew and Samantha watch, the aliens use their squid like bodies to embrace one another. They quickly realize that humans are the aggressors not the aliens.
If Godzilla was as good as this movie was, then I think we have a new and exciting director. I hope he doesn’t get type cast as a science fiction and invasion director.