It was said before, but there are only so many things you can do in a giant monster movie, at least with the monsters that is. What you can do to differentiate your creatures from the pack is to change things about them, though better yet, everything else around them and build your story featuring these monsters into something different than what has come before. So that is exactly what Gareth Edwards did when he created his film, simply entitled Monsters. He had these large and wondrous engines of destruction and what he did was indeed construct a story around them, one that was subtle in the making and unique for the fact that the monsters were secondary to the tale he wanted to tell. They would play a part in the film, there is no doubt about that and the story would not exist without them, but this movie was about two people and their struggles as we followed them onscreen. The film just happened to feature some larger than life creatures.
The film sets its focus upon two characters named Andrew and Samantha, a couple of Americans stuck down in Mexico behind enemy lines so to speak, as that is where the creatures of the film loom largest. Andrew who is a photographer is tasked with taking Samantha home and while on their journey, they not only learn more about these giant beings, but more about themselves. It is a captivating story that balances the drama of the film against the constant danger, tension and suspense that the movie creates as our characters move through it. As such, Edwards creates one of the better giant monster films to come along in quite some time, even reinvigorating the sub-genre and paving the way for a slew of new and fantastic creature features.
The special effects, to say the least, were fantastic for what little there were, and all done on a famously miniscule budget. The creature designs were inventive and really set themselves apart from most monster movies seen up until this point in time. There were no rubber suits, which was thankful and this time around the creatures were not just your average dinosaur, instead being alien of origin. While they were awesome to behold, the stars of the film were the two main characters played by Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able. Together, they really made the film what it was with some incredible onscreen chemistry and strong, moving performances. We saw the world of these monsters through their eyes, what had come before and what would transpire with them as they tried to make their way home. When they were in awe, we were in awe and Edwards who both wrote and directed the film, really captured the needed emotions to make this picture work.
With nothing but his imagination and his talent, Gareth Edwards struck out to make the best monster movie he could and he did so with a film that turned out to be an exercise in how to exceed your limitations. The characters of the film did so, doing things they probably never thought they would do in a million years, overcoming obstacles that seemed impossible and succeeding. The same can be said of Edwards who made the film he wanted to make with almost no money to speak of and when all was said and done, churning out one of the year’s best science-fiction films. If you head into Monsters thinking you are just going to see some sort of Godzilla flick or super-action movie then you will be sorely disappointed. Should you decide to stick around and give it a chance though, you will find it much more rewarding with a story that not only features monsters, but also one that has heart.
First entry – Giant Monster Gamera (1965)
Second entry – The Monolith Monsters (1957)
Third entry – Gamera vs. Barugon (1966)
Fourth entry – Tarantula (1955)
Fifth Entry – Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967)
Sixth entry – Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)
Seventh Entry – Gamera vs. Viras (1968)
Eighth entry – The Cyclops (1957)
Ninth entry – Gamera vs. Guiron (1969)