One is the critically acclaimed and highly accomplished sci-fi film depicting a desperate road trip through the dark heart of an alien infested no-man’s land in Central America and the other is the equally desperate process of making the film. Both are compelling, work beautifully together, and both are essential viewing as one informs and enlightens the other.
Rarely do we see such candid commentary and genuine astonishment at a project being realised, CGI warts and all, onto the screen and the interview footage of director Gareth Edwards and his constant companion and Editor Colin Goudie is an illuminating watch, and should be seen right after the feature. Filmmakers will lap it up and cheer on the triumph of a team who are obviously genuine about their passion for the film they made while standing, almost half squinting, in the spotlight with gratitude and humility.
The film itself was described as having a Lost in Translation vibe and I can see the comparisons. Two people looking for an escape, finding themselves drawn together in a dangerous part of the world, now changed beyond all comprehension. The understated performances of Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able as our two leads initially seems a little stand offish, but as Edwards reveals more of the world they are in (brilliantly on distant TV screens showing news reports, detritus from alien attacks or a few carefully chosen, cautionary words) we warm to them, and they to each other.
The effects are well documented as being Edwards own work, and are staggeringly good and, importantly, used sparingly. There is a subtle (possibly too subtle) sting in the tale which recommends a second viewing and it’s a compelling piece of work. I believe the script was improvised, it certainly has that feeling to it, and the initial languid pacing lulls us dreamily into a daze upon which Edwards places some wonderful moments of heightened drama, which have a terrific power.
There’s also a treat for sci-fi fans in the form of Factory Farmed – the highly impresive scifi London 48 hour film challenge short he made, which is another small piece of the Monsters puzzle. It’s on the disc in its entirety with an introduction by Edwards.
I can’t recommend this enough. To have a film made with such love given the same treatment on Blu-ray is great to see. Like Duncan Jones’ Moon and Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 Edwards’ film is a forerunner in the new wave of cinematic sci-fi, and the line has been drawn and I’m hopeful that these directors will continue on their journey with intelligent and well made films in this emerging genre This may not be the ultimate, but it is a hugely enjoyable trip nonetheless.
Monsters is available on Blu-ray and DVD now, or rent the film here.