The way I see it there are many types of sci-fi. First you have the brainless big special effects movies like Transformers and Armageddon. Then there is the sci-fi that keeps the special effects but favors an existential or political message over big dumb action. Films like Blade Runner, The Matrix, District 9, and 2001: A Space Odyssey are all excellent examples of this type of sci-fi. Star Wars and the most recent Star Trek film fall somewhere in between these two extremes. Lastly there is a type of sci-fi that has more in common with the aforementioned brainier sci-fi but instead of a big budgets and movie stars, these movies tend to have a slower pace as they focus on human drama. The sci-fi in these movies is more of a setting rather than the focus of the plot. Two recent examples of this type would be Never Let Me Go and the film I recently viewed on Netflix streaming; Monsters.
The story is set in Mexico six years after an alien invasion. We are introduced to photo journalist Andrew Kaulder, played by Scoot McNairy, who has been charged to bring his bosses daughter Samantha, Whitney Able, back home to America. They must travel through the country’s infected zone in order to reach the newly built wall that separates America from Mexico. Along the way the landscape is littered with carnage, debris, and the threat of the octopus like monsters that lay their luminescent eggs in the trees before returning to the seas. Our monsters are capable of fantastic destruction especially when disturbed by the frequent air strikes from the US military.
All of this sets the scene for what turns out to be a story of how two people with seemingly different lives and backgrounds can develop a bond through a shared experience. It may seem a little cliché but with a film maker who has the skill of new-comer Gareth Edwards it feels fresh and unique. The acting is quite good as you eventually become attached to both characters, and you hope their developing friendship will evolve into something more.
I don’t want to say too much. Monsters is a low key flick that really focuses on mood and human interaction. It’s a sci-fi flick you nerds out there can trick your lady to watch with you, or your blow up dolls. Monsters gets a B+.