Monday, November 22, 2010

'Monsters' a beautiful mess

Two stars

By Gary Buiso

Love can be like dyspepsia, rearing its head when — and where — you least expect it.
Such is the case in “Monsters,” a small-budget sci-fi road drama where romance sprouts amid the backdrop of an extra-terrestrial invasion.

The film takes place in 2015, after a space probe unwittingly brings back alien spores which “infect” northern Mexico with extra terrestrials who look like a cross between the ship from “War of the Worlds,” the creature from “Cloverfield,” and a squid. 

A wall protects America from an alien invasion, but the creatures have already turned half of Mexico into an “infected zone,” and it is here that jaded photographer Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) and rich girl Sam Wynden (Whitney Able) find themselves stranded. Kaulder’s boss — Sam’s father — orders him to safeguard his precious cargo back to the States. 

On their journey, the pair see the creatures for what they are, and learn that folks down in Mexico are actually more concerned with the fighter jets that are bombing the hell out of their country than the machinations of the amphibious alien invaders. 

The film, the debut by British writer-director Gareth Edwards, is a low-budget affair, which doesn’t necessarily detract from the special effects, which blend seamlessly — and in at least in one scene, quite beautifully — with the rest of the action. 

Shot in a variety of locations in Central America, Edwards used non-professional actors to fill the bulk of his cast, who are far more compelling than the tritely rendered, two-dimensional protagonists.

The script is largely improvised, and that’s a problem, as the two main characters oscillate between cliche and preachy idealism. 

“Monsters” has a message, but it gets lost by its messengers. 

“Monsters.” Rated R for language. 94 minutes. With Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy.


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