Monsters was released back in 2010 and was the feature length directorial debut of Gareth Edwards of Godzilla fame. Upon watching Monsters you can see the similarities in some ways between it and Godzilla. I wasn’t really a fan of Godzilla, so was skeptical about Monsters but with the sequel being released I thought it was about time to check it out.
Monsters is a really interesting film, through its premise alone. Whilst firmly being a sci-fi film, Monsters chooses to focus on its human characters opposed to the magnificent creatures from Edwards imagination. This can be both a positive and a negative. It’s all about expectations really, if you go in wanting to see all out alien action then Monsters isn’t for you and you will be disappointed. I certainly found the lack of action noticeable, and I could understand if some would struggle with this, however this is an issue that for me will only be a problem with the first viewing. I now know what to expect and when I re-watch it I know that this issue won’t phase me. However, in my opinion the premise worked so well, for many reasons. I really enjoyed the fact that the alien threat was already established, we didn’t have to go through the whole origin story – it was really cool to see how characters and communities were now living alongside these new residents. Monsters really is an intimate character drama amongst a story which boasts such a grand scale and this contrast was fascinating to watch. The characters featured were both really interesting and likeable, they were cleverly written and acted wonderfully too by Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able.
The setting was engaging as well, this combined with the cool characters just made for an adventurous but believable tale. Some of my favourite moments were when the characters were just sitting somewhere picturesque discussing life. The score worked so well with all of this too making for some really special scenes. Talking about special scenes, I loved the ending it had so much going for it and it was the perfect conclusion to a great film. So overall Monsters is a fantastic debut from Edwards, his characters are written so well and the techniques he uses to showcase them are brilliant, I feel that Monsters will only improve with age and re-watches too!
Rating – 8.5/10
Monsters: Dark Continent is the reason why I watched the original, as I spotted DC in my local cinema listings I decided to get caught up. I had honestly not seen a single trailer for it though, there seems to have been a severe lack of promotion for this sequel, but if you are a frequent reader of my blog you will know I often like to know as little as possible before seeing a movie.
Monsters: Dark Continent takes a completely different approach to its predecessor. As well as shifting location from Mexico to the Middle East, DC is half an hour longer than the original and features a lot more of the ‘monsters’. Whilst almost completely different there were similarities as the human characters were much more in focus than any monsters again, however this time round it did feel more forced. Anyway the difference in story really excited me, I like the idea of different stories being told all across the world about people living under this alien threat – the lack of focus on the creatures themselves is such an interesting take and it has endless potential for future films. DC is more of a war film than an alien one really and parts of this film are really well done. For the most part I really enjoyed following these characters, I thought the opening was really strong here and I immediately got on board with the characters. However one scene just before they head on their first tour to the Middle East completely undid all that good development. This scene was a montage which just made the characters out to be very unlikeable, I was able to connect with them again but for a while this scene did damage something of my feelings and engagement towards the characters.
What did help me to connect to the characters again was some really great acting that was delivered from the cast, especially Sam Keeley and Johnny Harris, but the supporting cast also. This was impressive and I felt every ounce of emotion, these enhanced the war scenes and helped to connect to the audience. Much like the first film, the final scenes really were great. Here I would describe the last moments as spectacular – for me it was the kind of scene which I could have watched for double or triple the length that it was, brilliant ending again with a booming score. Although I was a fan of the ending it has to be said that the extra half an hour of time really wasn’t needed and it did negatively effect the film. There was a whole section around three quarters of the way through which didn’t need to be included. It’s inclusion made the film drag and it really began to outstay its welcome. I know that DC is getting a harsh time with the critics, I honestly don’t think the film has that many problems though but it’s this extended running time that just makes everything hard to endure, which is a real shame. Nonetheless I really enjoyed moments of this movie and its very watchable bar the section just discussed, it worked on an emotional level and featured some really breathtaking moments. It provided another variation about life after this alien development.
Rating – 7/10
FINAL VERDICT // Both of these films rock a great premise, the telling of human stories in front of the backdrop of an alien threat. The way that both the films focus on their human characters is so intriguing and refreshing. There is no doubt that the first is more successful in this but that is only due to the nature of the running time of the second. The second film may satisfy more of the viewers desires for action and excitement whereas the first is noticeably more understated. Each film features some really special moments and I thoroughly enjoyed watching and reviewing this double feature. WHAT DO YOU THINK? Let me know in the comments below!