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Monster (2008)

DVD Cover (The Asylum Home Entertainment)
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4.6
 / 10
1 vote
Movie Connections:
Cloverfield
> Monster (2008)
> Cloverfield (2008)
Genres / Traits:
Creature Film, Sci-Fi Disaster Film, Sci-Fi Horror, Science Fiction, Cinéma Vérité
Director:
Erik Estenberg Erik Estenberg
Starring:
Sarah Lynch Sarah Lynch
Erin Evans Erin Evans
Justin L. Jones Justin L. Jones
Kazuyuki Okada Kazuyuki Okada
Yoshi Ando Yoshi Ando
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Review by Chad
Added: January 19, 2008
It'd be easy to kick off this review with a paragraph or two consisting of me poking fun at The Asylum for their monthly "mockbusters", films which attempt to capitalize on either the success or the promotion of big budget Hollywood releases, but I'm not even going to bother this time. I've done it before in other reviews, but by now, I think that we all know what we're getting into when we pick one of these up, so anyone who purchases, rents, or downloads one of these films and hates it has nobody to blame but themselves. Personally, I've enjoyed a couple of them; granted, they're low-budget ripoffs, but that much is obvious by simply glancing at the cover art. Still, even with all things considered, some of them do turn out to be fun if you're a fan of cheese. Monster, a ripoff of a little film known as Cloverfield, was not one of those films.

We begin with an introduction to the two main characters - Sarah (Sarah Lieving) and Erin (Erin Sullivan) - and learn that they're headed to Japan to do a documentary on global warming. Unlike the characters in that "other" movie, these two ladies make it to their destination with no problems... it's just what happens once they arrive that sort of screws things up. It turns out that some sort of giant monster has emerged from the ground after an earthquake and has proceeded to start tearing shit up, and thanks to these two ladies and their handheld camera, we get to see the action as if we were right there on the streets of Tokyo. At least, that's the premise...

You see, most of the film consists of either the two ladies running down the street or bitching and moaning into the camera, and really, that's about the extent of the plot. Sure, there's a few action sequences thrown in to make the trailer more appealing, but these scenes are damned near unwatchable thanks to the shitty camera that the ladies brought along with them. I say this in jest, of course, as the "shitty camera" angle was achieved through post-production computer effects, but it was still extremely annoying. Whenever it's time for something to blow up or for the monster to show up, the screen will either transform into a field of static, the picture will black out, or we'll simply cut ahead in time a couple of minutes. Truth be told, we only see a couple of the monster's tentacles throughout the entire running time (unless it was supposed to be a giant squid - it's hard to tell), and we only see those for about ten seconds.

Now, I realize that the filmmakers responsible for this one didn't have access to billions of dollars for special effects, so to fault them for that would be a bit silly, especially after my opening paragraph in which I pointed out that I knew exactly what I was in for. Therefore, the fact that they attempted to conceal their horrific CGI effects through camera static and blackouts was, while not exactly appreciated by yours truly, at least understandable. However, it would have been nice if they had at least tried to liven up the settings a little bit without completely relying on post-production; I mean, how hard could it have been to drop a couple of boards off of a roof, or fire up a smoke machine, or even have a horde of extras running down the street? We don't get any of this though, and some of the most exciting moments of the film consist of one of the women telling the camera that she loves Kelly Clarkson and TiVo'ing Days of Our Lives or asking whoever finds these tapes to post them to YouTube.

I also thought that the filmmakers should have done a better job with crowd control, or at least done a couple of retakes. You see, we're supposed to buy that a giant monster is destroying the entire city and that everyone is either dead or in a state of panic, but how can I get involved with this when I see a guy casually strolling down the street with a shopping bag in the background? When one of the main ladies is crying in front of the camera and wondering if she'll survive the day, how can I get emotionally attached to her when I can clearly hear children playing in the background? These are little things, granted, but they do hurt the overall product given the very nature of the film, and this is made even worse by the fact that they could have easily been reshot.

It's not a completely bad film, even though I haven't given it a lot of praise. I thought that both Sarah Lieving and Erin Sullivan were surprisingly good in their roles, and without them, I think my final score would have easily dropped three or four points. I do have to say that they got a tad bit annoying when they kept running up to various people screaming that "they're Americans!", but that's more a fault of the script than the ladies delivering the lines. The only real problem with the acting came to us courtesy of the various supporting characters that pop up throughout the running time, but some allowances have to be made as they were Japanese and probably didn't speak English as their first language. I also thought that there were some great camera shots thrown into the mix (when they weren't mangled in post-production), and there were moments when I actually found myself getting drawn into the storyline. Sure, these moments came to an abrupt halt once one of the many (and I do mean many) mistakes were made, but for a couple of moments, this one did rise above the "typical Asylum production" label.

Overall, I'm going to have to say pass on this one. Some of The Asylum's mockbusters have turned out to be surprisingly good, but sadly, the one that should have been the easiest to pull off just didn't cut it. 3/10.
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