Sunday, December 05, 2010
After Chris Nolan's Inception, I'd say Gareth Edwards' Monsters is right up there as the second best science-fiction film of 2010. What's that? You've never heard of it? No. Not the animated movie with Reese Witherspoon... *sigh*
Understandable, since it was released in only 25 theaters and grossed a grand total of $213,091. There are shades of District 9, Cloverfield and even a pinch of War of the Worlds, but the premise stands firmly on its own two feet.
Basically, NASA discovers life in our solar system. They send a probe to collect samples and bring them back to earth. Unfortunately, the probe crashes on re-entry, the alien life-forms escape and hijinks ensue. Fast forward a couple years later. Half of Mexico is quarantined and an enormous wall has been constructed in an attempt to prevent the creatures from invading the United States. That's the backdrop for a story about an American photojournalist who, after a slight mishap, has to escort the boss's daughter across the infected zone and back into the States.
Made for just a few hundred thousand dollars, Monsters succeeds as a highly engrossing Sci-Fi adventure with a message that never gets too preachy. Don't expect wall to wall action or gratuitous money shots of the creatures. A lot is wisely left to the imagination. The lesson here is that low budget is no excuse for poor storytelling or a crappy premise. I should also point out that everyone worked off a treatment and not an actual script. Although the DVD doesn't come out until February, Creative Screenwriting Magazine has an excellent (slightly spoilerly) podcast with the two leads, Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able.
BTW, this poster makes for great wallpaper.