DVD Review: Monsters

(Vertigo Films)

JUST when you think there’s nothing new in the world of science fiction along comes something like Monsters, a remarkable film from Brit director Gareth Edwards which shows originality hasn’t been completely lost in Hollywood, and you can’t help but smile.

Six years ago, a returning NASA space probe crash-landed in Mexico, bringing with it alien spores which have transformed the region’s vegetation and introduced dangerous new life forms into the environment. As US and Mexican military forces struggle to contain the creatures within this “infected zone”, the indigenous population have been forced into refugee camps either side of the border, and transport to the States comes at a hefty price.

Tasked with getting the daughter of his publisher boss on the first boat home, photojournalist Andrew Kaulder (Scoott McNairy) is also hoping for a “money shot” of the creatures in action, but after their passports are stolen, Andrew and Sam (Whitney Able) are forced to confront the extraterrestrial incursion first hand when they embark on a journey across the infected zone by land.

As much a love story as any sort of alien invasion movie, the strengths of Monsters lie in the naturalistic performances by the guest cast (unpaid locals!) and the strong relationship between real-life couple McNairy and Able.

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Despite a modest budget, Edwards succeeds in shaping a realistic portrayal of a world under threat by forces from outer space, the socio-political ramifications of this strange infiltration, and the lifeforms which are wreaking havoc across much of Mexico.

Its 90 minutes duration is just long enough for what is basically a road movie through hostile territory, and although there is enough mileage in Edwards’ concepts to produce numerous follow-ups, you almost hope that for once we’re left with this single vision and it isn’t diluted by over-familiarity in a string of sequels.

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