Monsters’ Scoot McNairy has zero character to work with.
MONSTERS (Gareth Edwards). 94 minutes. Opens Friday (November 12). For venues, trailers and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
Remember how District 9 used the trappings of science fiction to deliver a heady allegory about race relations and South Africa's shameful legacy of apartheid? And how Cloverfield used a hand-held camera to capture the awe and terror of a giant monster rampaging through an urban setting?
Well, if you don't, you'll probably be really impressed by Gareth Edwards's Monsters, a largely hand-held sci-fi sort of thing that sends a pair of American citizens (Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able) stumbling through a Mexico infested by beasts from a crashed space probe. It's a border-crossing movie: Sin Nombre with giant space octopods.
This is very clearly a one-man production. Edwards wrote, directed, shot and designed Monsters and also takes credit for the CG animation. The movie should guarantee him a career as an effects artist; the creatures - when they appear, which is awfully infrequently - are eerily alien and nicely integrated into their surroundings.
It's a pity Edwards isn't able to integrate anything else into his movie, like a compelling plot, memorable dialogue or decent performances. McNairy and Able are stick figures who spend all their screen time spouting risible platitudes about how America sure looks different when you see it from the other side of a wall. I love a giant-monster movie as much as the next guy - more, probably - but even I can't get behind this.