[Note: Potential minor plot spoilers below. If you have not seen this movie, be warned.]
THEN: Six years ago, proof of alien life in the universe was found. A probe was sent into space to get samples. It crash landed over Mexico on its way back. The Mexican and American militaries have great trouble containing the “creatures” that crop up.
NOW: A photographic journalist is hired by a wealthy man to escort his daughter from Mexico back home to the United States. Through a series of unfortunate events (but no Lemony Snicket here- sorry, not for the kiddies), they have to trek through the “infected zone” to make it back home.
Monsters is basically Cloverfield (minus The Blair Witch angle) meets Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist (without the mixed-tape angle and with the characters being older) meets Before Sunrise (but without the sunrise- except then sneak back in a sunrise or two). That just may be the worst pitch analogy I have ever made, but it still fits.
Written and directed by Gareth Edwards, this well crafted story has been overshadowed in the media by the fact that the film was made on such a low budget. Some have even compared him to District 9 director Neill Blomkamp, and rightfully so. There is nothing cheap about the look and feel of this film.
From a parenting angle, there were a couple of interesting story elements. Kaulder, the photographic journalist, has a six-year-old son he had out of wedlock. The mother has since married another man. She wants the boy to think her husband is the father, so our hero can’t play the traditional dad role. The mother does, however, let Kaulder have some kind of relationship with the boy. Some nicely played out scenes with Kaulder on the phone illustrate his frustration and pain. The female lead, Sam, comes off as a strong self-assured character, but sounds like a petulant teenager when speaking with her father. These are some interesting dynamics, but none of these side-stories play a large role in the movie. Parenting-wise, this is simply more of an escapist movie: cool sci fi idea, which is nicely played out through well written dialogue and some tense action scenes. However, there is more to this story beneath the surface if you choose to analyze it on a deeper level. The idea of the giant wall that borders the US and Mexico is certainly fodder for further discussion.
Currently available on DVD, the Netflix instant streaming service, and more- Monsters is a highly recommended good time for dads and moms alike.