Monsters is a film that not too many people have watched, but I recommend to anyone who hasn’t. As someone who actually aspires to make films, I know more than any casual film-goer that you don’t just write a script send it to some producers and hey ho, that’s your movie funded, let’s grab a camera and get to work! No, this is not the reality we live in. But, when it comes down to it, maybe that’s what we need. The harshness sometimes of the industry is what drives and motivates film-makers to succeed. To keep going and not give up on their passion, and that’s what I believe happened here with the directing talent that is Gareth Edwards, the man responsible recently for directing the second american Godzilla movie – it can’t be as bad as the first one, right? Quite the task considering this is only Edwards second film! His first, is the indie sci-fi film Monsters. The general synopsis is, ‘Six years after Earth has suffered an alien invasion a cynical journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through an infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.’ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1470827/
While the film itself garnered great reviews, what’s even more impressive was the budget he had to work on to do it independently. Most movies on this scale have plenty of money to work with, but Edwards had to make do with £500,000! Seems like a fair amount, but considering films such as the second Transformers are made for $200 million you can see quite clearly that Edwards had to take quite a minimalistic approach. For me, it is these kinds of movies that I aspire to be able to make one day, and I find Edwards an inspiration for not only trying, but succeeding. Here is the film trailer to give you an idea of what the film is about…
The film boasts excellent visual effects for its budget and was created via an application called After Effects, whilst the 3D modelling in the film (for the creatures) was made via an application called Autodesk’s 3ds Max and another called ZBrush. I am pretty keen on my Adobe After Effects, and whilst this film didn’t inspire me to pick up and learn how to use the software, the film did reinforce that it can be done! Films can be made using applications that students today are being taught how to utilise! In the special effects extras on the dvd, Edwards explains how he used these applications and, very creatively considering budget, managed to track shots such as, say, a road sign and implement in its place an ‘infected zone’ warning sign. It was tricks like these that gives Monsters a very authentic feel as the signs we see in the film are actually there, but the material on signs have been altered in order to fit the film’s narrative!
What more can I say about Monsters, well there are a few more things to definitely note! The acting…brilliant. The film essentially launched the career for rising star Scoot McNairy, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1058940/ who has gone on to work on another film that I’ll review later, Killing Them Softly but more on that later as I say! Edwards struck gold with casting McNairy and wife Whitney Able, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2016345/?ref_=tt_cl_t2 who are romantically involved off screen as well as on in the film; this was a wise decision to cast the pair, as their chemistry really shines through in the film. As well as the acting, the music is sensational; it able to fascinate and dazzle as well as also be incredibly subtle! The music matches the film well as the whole point in the film is to tread away from standard exploitative Science Fiction epics. The music and cinematography are blended into one beautifully made last scene, where we finally see the big creepy crawlies up close; instead of them being creepy however they are in fact fascinating, and they demonstrate that in nature the so called “monsters” actually have very human elements to them. Listen to some of the score for yourself!
So film in itself does have some wonderfully cool and creative scenes, but at the emotional core of this film is the relationship between the film’s two central characters. There is also an allegory of sorts on war; it carries political themes worthy of discussing! Definitely check out this film as well as it’s just good entertainment, and has plenty of reply value!
If you don’t mind spoilers, here is a wee teaser clip!!