Monsters (Gareth Edwards, 2010)
The BAFTA-nominated Monsters is a very, very good film that a lot of people didn’t seem to get. There’s a lot of venom directed at this movie on the IMDB boards. A lot of folks are passing it off as mismarketing, but having read between the lines here, I’m going to advance a little hypothesis: many, many people went into this movie expecting a ripoff of District 9. It is nothing of the sort, and they are therefore displeased. Don’t be that guy.
Plot: six years ago, a probe returning from Jupiter’s moon Europa crash-landed in Mexico. It was not alone. Fast-forward to the present, and aliens have turned northern Mexico, previously a desert wasteland, into a steamy tropical jungle where humans don’t go if they value their lives, for the most part—not only because the area is inhabited by aliens, but because the American and Mexican governments have been waging war on them the entire time. Through a long series of misadventures (which is not at all wasted, as it sets up the character dynamics for the rest of the film), photojournalist Andrew Kaulder (Argo‘s Scoot McNairy), who’s been hired to chaperone heiress/tourist Samantha Wynden (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane‘s Whitney Able), finds himself having to cross the infected zone to get her back to America.
All of which should tell you that what you’re looking at is a road movie (with a romance subplot) that happens to contain monsters, not that the monsters are the center of the action as they were in District 9. If it helps, think of it more as a zombie movie; it’s structured more like one than it is a traditional monster movie, in that it focuses more on the humans and their interaction than it does on the external bad guys. (Though I haven’t yet found a way to use the aliens as a parallel to consumerism. If anything, they’re the opposite—they’re actually improving the world through terraforming.) One way or the other, however, it is very much above the average flick, and very much worth seeing if you get a chance. *** ½