Monsters – Trailer and Review – imminent release on to DVD and BD

Here’s the brand new trailer for Monsters which will be landing on DVD and Blu-ray this coming Monday, 28th March. If you don’t know much about the film, I highly recommend it and attach a review I wrote for Smell of Napalm not too long ago.

It’s not an alien thriller, but it’s not exactly your average drama either, Monsters instead blends sci-fi and romance (no, totally unlike The Fifth Element did) in to an extra-terrestrial road trip adventure across Central America.

Comparisons to the recentĀ District 9 are unavoidable, although other than shooting style and alien quarantine zones, the films do address different issues, or rather, different aspects of the same issue – namely life in the aftermath of alien invasion. Perhaps unusually for an ‘alien movie’, the focus isn’t on thrills and blood spills. Director Gareth Edwards isn’t aiming for the jumps and scares elicited from this type of sci fi in the past.

The plot couldn’t be simpler; think a kind of jungle excursion spin on 16 Blocks. A photojournalist, Andrew, is requested by his presumably influential employer to transport his daughter, Samantha, back to the US from within the infected zone. Their journey is inevitably not as smooth running as anticipated and the two are thrown in to an uncertain relationship together.

Monsters is a film of few flaws, but one is that the relationship between Andrew and Samantha seems too forced. Andrew is such an unlikeable jerk from the outset, apparently only concerned by himself and his career. The chance that Samantha would fall for him so readily, especially given that she already has a fiance seems distinctly slim. Their mutual attraction is too rapid and without sufficient development, and whilst their on screen chemistry as the film progresses is almost tangible (unsurprisingly since the actors Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy are married in real life), this is a thorn that sticks sharply from it’s side.

That said, never has this kind of romance been portrayed against such a dramatic and intriguing creative back drop. The ‘infected zone’ in Monsters is a work of genius that totally defies the simplicity of it’s origins: on a studio rig comprised of off the shelf Adobe software and Autodesk 3d Max set up in Edwards’ bedroom.

It might be surprising then that the special effects are actually really good, rivalling much more expensive productions. Admittedly, they are used fairly sparsely, hinting at the enormity of the alien monsters rather than rendering them outright. A tentacle here, an unnatural silhouette there, and so on and so forth. Only in the romantic climax of the film do we see the fruits of Edwards’ labour in their full splendour, a sight I won’t ruin here with words.

The setting in Central America, other than refreshingly exotic, contributes to the alien, unfamiliar theme of Monsters, and the language barrier is used artfully to convey a sense of isolation, and the occasional drop of humour. It’s not a rollercoaster ride by any means, but Monsters will most definitely garner an emotional reaction from you in some way.

Monsters is a road movie of sorts, a trip through the heart of Central America and an exploration of companionship. It should be watched without the preconceptions that usually accompany the genre.

Certificate: 15
Run time: 94 mins
Country of Origin: UK


Unlikely Lookalikes Take Two: Aaron Sorkin vs Bob Lazar

Stumbled on another peculiar look-a-like. These aren’t my favourite things or anything, but they are a revelation when I notice them. This time the comparison is between genius screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who wrote among other things, The Social Network, Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Bob Lazar, supernatural obsessive, and self proclaimed ‘reverse engineer’ of Alien UFOs.

It was pretty to tough to find a photo of Sorkin with his mouth closed in all honesty, and even harder to find one of Lazar with his mouth open. Ok, so their characteristics aren’t the same (thank God or we’d have two nerds with Alien obsessions and no West Wing) but you can surely see the similarity?

Film of the Week premiere

You may have noticed how momentously I failed at maintaining with any degree of accuracy the sidebar widget previously entitled: Last Film I Watched. It’s still possible to find that information out should you be so inclined (the list is organised monthly with a brief caption summary to review the film – hopefully useful), and the link is still in the sidebar, and also here.

However, to cater for my rapid watching habits (and poor organisational skills) I have now dubbed the sidebar widget Film of the Week, with the intention of updating it more regularly and with more significance. Afterall, poor films don’t deserve to have their posters on the Alien homepage surely??! Hope you like…

A rant of inequality.

Here’s a comment I posted on First Showing, in response to an infuriating remark by a reader known only as…Ives. The article was about Mel Gibson’s recent departure from his agency, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, and the post that riled me declared:

I can’t believe people are defending him. He may have been a decent person in the past (i don’t know), but now he is a drunk, abusive lowlife and doesn’t deserve any respect. Just because he is (or was) talented, people should not look past who he really is. Stop giving celebrities special treatment.

I suspect this is a view shared by a number of people, so here’s my comeback. The case of Ives vs. Alien, 2010.

@Ives – it’s not giving ‘celebrities special treatment’, it’s giving artists and geniuses special treatment, and they should be, because the fact is, without those people, as despicable as they can be at times, there is no point to anything. They give us highs and they give us lows, but try and imagine a life without crazy and eccentric musicians, actors, artists etc. Hell, some of the greatest legends were absolute scum, but we need them to give this life some context. So how about instead of stopping ‘special treatment’, you stop bunging us all together in a mash up of personalities and characters that should all be treated the same, and recognise that the simple fact is, we’re not the same, we shouldn’t be treated the same, and Mel Gibson should not be dropped from his agents and colleagues like an empty bottle as soon as he’s lost his clean reputation and is a threat to theirs.

Don’t get me wrong, I despise celeb culture as much as the next respectable human being, but there’s a fine line that you’re not observing.