Monsters (2010)

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Released 13-Apr-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror/Sci-Fi Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Crew-Exclusive Q&A at the Melbourne premiere
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-B-Roll
Theatrical Trailer-Monsters
Teaser Trailer-Madman Trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 90:00 (Case: 94)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Gareth Edwards
Studio
Distributor
Vertigo Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring Whitney Able
Scoot McNairy
Fernando Lara
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Jon Hopkins


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     With his debut feature, British filmmaker Gareth Edwards has produced one of the most impressive independent films of 2010. Monsters is proof that the production of quality science fiction is possible without massive budgets and the involvement of major Hollywood studios.

     The best way to begin a synopsis of Monsters is to relay the words that open the film... "Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar-system. A space probe was launched to collect samples, but broke up during re-entry over Mexico. Soon after, new life forms began to appear and half the country was quarantined as an Infected Zone. Today, the Mexican & US military still struggle to contain "the creatures". After establishing this premise, the narrative then centres on an American photo journalist, Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) and a young female tourist, Samantha (Whitney Able), who just happens to be the daughter of Kaulder's employer. Kaulder is on assignment around the Infected Zone when he is given the task of safely escorting his boss' daughter back home to America. When their train journey is stopped because of track damage, the pair decides to continue by foot and travel through the dangerous, Infected Zone to reach the US border.

     The film has a principal cast of just two, with additional roles played by non-actors. All the locations are real and most of the dialogue was improvised, which worked really well in this case. The small cast and crew shot countless hours of footage, which was initially edited down to four and a half hours. Subsequent edits brought the film down to its current running time of ninety minutes. Gareth Edwards’ talents as a filmmaker are literally on display in every frame of Monsters. He has five key credits in the film including writer, director, cinematographer, production design and the all important visual effects. With a very small budget and limited resources, this film manages to sustain a high degree of authenticity, which is often lacking in many bigger productions.

     The visual effects in Monsters were all produced in post-production, using commercially available software. Many of the locations were especially selected and filmed to accommodate these visual effects. In post, Edwards digitally transformed anything of use including road signs and menu boards into maps and warning signs. He composed each frame with the intention of later adding, deleting or changing something in post-production. As previously mentioned, the end result is really quite an achievement. For me personally though, the only visual let down were the alien creatures themselves. I would have preferred something a little more sinister and aggressive - but that's only my opinion. This DVD edition from Madman is highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Monsters is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which is 16x9 enhanced.

     Generally speaking, the transfer looks fine. For the most part the image exhibited a nice degree of clarity and sharpness. Blacks were clean, with minimal grain and shadows held excellent detail. Colours were vivid and natural, with no adverse issues. There were no apparent MPEG artefacts. Film-to-video artefacts were negligible. I noticed a few very minor instances of aliasing, but these were not at all problematic. Film artefacts were non-existent.

     English subtitles for the hard of hearing are available on this disc. The subtitles are in bold yellow and are quite accurate.

     This disc is a DVD 9, dual layer disc. Even with the assistance of software I could not locate the layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There is one audio track available on the DVD, English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kb/s).

     I had no problems with the dialogue quality and audio sync appeared to be accurate. The original music score by Jon Hopkins enhances the general eerie ambience of the film really well. The surround channels were mostly active early and then late in the film. The mix is quite sensible and isn't overstated at all. Likewise, the subwoofer was only noticed during the more dramatic scenes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

     The main menu is animated, 16x9 enhanced and features a sample of Jon Hopkins' music.

Featurette - Exclusive Q&A at the Melbourne Premiere (26:07)

     As the titles suggests, this was filmed at the Melbourne premiere of Monsters on 9th November 2010. Following the screening, Gareth Edwards discusses many aspects of the film with the audience.

Interviews - Cast & Crew

B-Roll - Behind-the-scenes footage (7:50)

     A brief collection of behind-the-scenes footage. Interesting, but really too short to be of much value.

Theatrical Trailer - Monsters (1:40)

Madman Trailers

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There is an American Region 1 edition of Monsters which was released in February 2011 by Magnolia Home Entertainment. This edition appears to be similar in terms of transfers; however, the Region 1 set features a different selection of extras. The Region 1 edition includes an audio commentary by Gareth Edwards, Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able. Other features include twenty minutes of deleted/extended scenes and a five minute HDNet making-of featurette. There is also a Blu-ray edition available from Magnolia. This Blu-ray edition includes the same set of extras as the DVD edition, plus an hour of interviews and a couple of additional featurettes.

     In local terms, Monsters is also available on Blu-ray from Madman. This Blu-ray edition includes the same selection of extras as Madman's DVD edition.

Summary

     With its small budget and limited resources, Monsters is really quite an achievement. The film sustains an eerie atmosphere throughout and, for the most part, it looks amazing. Monsters proves that the production of quality science fiction is possible without massive budgets and the involvement of major Hollywood studios.

     The video and audio transfers are excellent. Unfortunately, we don't have the audio commentary, but these extras still offer some insight into the production.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DMP-BD35 Blu Ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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