Baddie – Probably American ignorance, again.
Lesson – I’m…not really sure.
Given the impending awesomeness that will be Godzilla, I thought I would take a crack at a another Gareth Edwards film that’s been on my Instant Queue for a long time. If you haven’t already, check out the King of the Monsters series currently being written by the Boss Man – his love of Godzilla is unparalleled.
The premise is simple but promising; a returning probe breaks up on re-entry, scattering alien life forms into Mexico where they quickly take up shop and the respective governments struggle to keep them all contained. Some of them are quite large, which is indicative of a certain Mr. Edwards’ love affair with kaiju.
Alright, so, the deal with Monsters is that it isn’t very well developed. It’s really pretty, all things considered, but it felt very underwhelming. My best guess is that Mr. Edwards wanted to make a subliminally socially conscious movie with a simple premise, and he wanted to use aliens to do it.
What we actually got is a lukewarm parable with about eight thinly-veiled metaphors for various social issues and oh yeah there are monsters. Calder and Sam, our protagonists, a photographer and a newspaper mogul’s daughter respectively, have little to zero chemistry which would be fine if they didn’t feel the need to develop a romantic subplot. It’s established that Calder has a son via a brief romantic tryst, but the son doesn’t know Calder is the father, and Sam is engaged but doesn’t love her fiancee. And not in a like, “Oh, she’s realizing it,” kind of way, she flat-out doesn’t call him ever, pawns her ring without a blink, speaks of him in a resentful way. So there’s technically room for romance between the two, but it’s really strange.
I’m sure that somewhere in the mess of metaphors one can extract several different lessons about immigration, segregation, racism, American entitlement, income gap, class systems, military and government spending, sustainability…the list goes on. There are literally so many of them that the film has no focus, and then focus becomes the relationship between Calder and Sam, and that’s a heck of a weak link in an already weak chain.
It’s barely even worth mentioning the alien/monsters. They’re basically huge cephalopods, they seem to lay eggs in trees and are somewhat aquatic. They may or may not harvest electricity. They hate planes, and they wreck stuff because they’re big. It really doesn’t matter, because there’s approximately one attack and it’s really dark and hard to see and not much comes of it. They aren’t scary, they aren’t anxiety-inducing, and they aren’t established enough to evoke sympathy. At the end of the film there’s a sequence where you get to see two of them interact without human interference, and it’s supposed to be really beautiful (Calder cries) but I’m just like…uh…okay, sure. They light up. That’s neat.
So basically, Monsters was a huge letdown because it tried to do waaaaay too much with waaaaay too little.