Screen Monsters on Dish Network

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What's that coming over the hill? Oh...

They'll never make them like this again," said George Lucas to Martin Scorsese as they strolled through the gargantuan Gangs of New York set. The implication was that any film, of such scale and sweep would henceforth play out on the CG-scapes favored by the Star Wars overlord. While this hasn*t (yet) proved true. Hollywood's canniest chequed shirt might not have been entirely wrong either.

Written, directed, designed, DP'ed and SFX'ed by one man - for peanuts - and improvised on the fly with a cast of two across Central America, Monsters is the world’s first home-made sci-fi blockbuster, or at least the first that can stand toe to toe with the big boys without feeling embarrassed about its trainers.

British SFX whiz Gareth Edwards served a frustrating apprenticeship in TV docs before unleashing his feature debut's squid-like space beasties. Though he spikes his sun-burnished landscapes with ruined buildings and vehicles, this isn't an imaginary world reduced to the capacity of a hard-drive, but the real one embellished by gorgeous CG anomalies. It's not fantasy, hut an impossible documentary from a possible future. One thing's for sure, as Edwards racks focus on incinerated alien limbs and children's corpses, that galaxy far, far away has never seemed further.
Byway to the danger zone

Following Godard's maxim that "films should have a beginning, middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order", the film begins with a brilliant flash fire-strafed action scene. The upshot is an early reveal of one die squids (the result of a NASA space probe that crashed six years previously) in all its marauding glory.

It's a smart move because the pace soon slows (and stays) at a contemplative meander as we meet American photojournalist Andrew (Scoot McNairy) and his boss' daughter, Samantha (Whitney Able), who Andrew must escort home from Mexico avoiding the 'Infected Zone", a walled-off containment area to which the aliens (somewhat messily) migrate every year. Needless to say things don't go according to plan, and pretty soon the pair is Apocalypse Now-ing their way up the river into the unknown. There's even time for a little Wagner.

Charismatic but un-ingratiating, Andrew sees life through his own cynical viewfinder, while Sam glides along with the untouchable serenity of the wealthy. Moving with shell-shocked indifference through shifting levels of strangeness - foreign towns, eerie jungles, a decimated evacuation zone - they begin to thaw towards each other, the two actors (who are now married in real life) tenderly sketching in the beats as romantic possibilities flare then falter. "You don't have to do it perfect." she tells him, tenderly, as lie bandages her hand, a sweet summary of the film's woozy, patchwork realism.

Edwards takes a similarly low-key approach to his direction, using half-seen CG warning signs, ominous details (bloody handprints smeared across an abandoned barge, howler monkeys screaming in the trees) and atmospheric but readymade locations (the hurricane-ravaged Galveston, USA) to suggest a many-textured world drifting inexorably to hell.

By: Francis David

Francis helps people understand the DISH Network TV Service the DISH Network Packages and Channels. He has all of the DISH Network Special Promotions and Deals for new customers.

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