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16 December 2012

Monsters (2010)

I'm on a bit of a South American kick this week. There is a lot going on in that neck of the woods. I don't usually jump about much in my film reviews, but there are a couple of things on my mind that I'd like to call out.

Air Strikes Continue in Mexico!
Monsters, Vertigo 2010

First off, you need to check this video out. It's of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay and was brought to my attention by my South American correspondent, the wonderful Shankti Oviedo. In case you missed it... Shankti designed my current profile picture. His artwork was also the inspiration for some uke designs I mocked up in April. The Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay was formed to provide teaching and support to underprivileged children in some of the poorest parts of Paraguay, something that it has had success in achieving. In a bid to satisfy their growing need for instruments they started to make their own... out of rubbish. You should see and hear the instruments that they've made... it really is quite fantastic! I would love to do a larger post on this sometime, but for now, check out the video...

Secondly, I want to mention a band I've literally only just found out about which I think are called Mauke en el Quetzal. My Spanish isn't quite as good as I'd like, so I'm even slower on the uptake with this than I usually am ;-) Apologies if I've got this wrong. The band hails from Buenos Aires and seem to have a thing for Ozzy Osborne. I've hooked up with one of the ukers called Marcelo Klein and hope to learn more. I'll report back! Here's something to tide you over til then...

Many years ago I spent a day in Tijuana, Mexico. That really opened my eyes! There are a few stories I could tell you about that trip, but all I'll mention for now is Bimbo the donkey and losing my passport. I've probably said too much! :-O

Mexico - What a beautiful country!
Monsters, Vertigo 2010

Sticking with Mexico... Imagine a failed space mission. Imagine a probe sent into space in a quest to find extra-terrestrial life. Imagine that it is successful, only on its return the shuttle crashes releasing its alien cargo into the wilds of Mexico. That is exactly the premise of the 2010 film Monsters. It sounds a lot like Andromeda Strain doesn't it... only here, the aliens are BIG! Monsters opens six years after the crash-landing. The aliens have adapted to life on Earth and efforts to quarantine off a huge tract of Mexico are beginning to fail. We join photographer Andrew Kaulder (played by Scoot McNairy) as he tries to get his boss's daughter Samantha Wynden (played by Whitney Able) from south Mexico, through the "Infected Zone", and back into the arms of her loving fiancee. Oh dear.... this can't possibly end well!

Sam sees the funny side...
Monsters, Vertigo 2010

Like the videos I posted earlier, I was put onto this film by someone on Google+. I can't remember who, but they said it was good and worth a watch. That was all the incentive I needed to track down a copy of the DVD.

The film is a slow builder and relies much more on psychological suspense than horror or special effects (although both can be found in here too). Whilst watching it, I felt that same sort of tingle that I get watching Jaws. The whole style of how the film handles the Infected Zone reminded me of the sort of propaganda artwork you might see in something like Starship Troopers... but this isn't a comedy.

Vultures circle the ruins
Monsters, Vertigo 2010

I'm running out of steam... so I'll be quick...

I loved the story. I also loved the acting. The two stars are believable. However, the real stars for me were the supporting cast. There is a campfire scene where local Mexican 'security' are explaining life in the Infected Zone. I thought the question and answer type exchanges were brilliant. I for one believed every word of it!

Although there is a lethargic pace - I could well imagine this being a criticism leveled at this film - I loved that the film makers saw no need to reveal facts too quickly (or actually, all of the facts - I've still got loads of questions unanswered). I think it helps to maintain that spark of wonder in the story. It worked for me.

Andrew runs off with a very bad tattoo...
Monsters, Vertigo 2010

The Aliens themselves are pretty bloody good too. I don't know why, but I was getting flashbacks to Cloverfield. I was pretty hard on that film... Monsters is a whole different kettle of squid. Another thing... Don't be put off by the DVD cover... whoever created it never watched the film...

Time to close this off. On the Triple-B I'm only 7 Miles from the Wall. I should be there by nightfall... what could possibly go wrong? Buy...

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