2015 / Director. Tom Green.
Review by Shaun Crawford.
Gareth Edwards original 2011 film was a deft, ultra low-budget sleight-of-hand that wasn't actually about the titular monsters. Instead it followed a blossoming, albeit difficult, romance between a journalist and a tourist as they navigate a world that now just happens to have monsters in it.
Tom Green's (no, not that Tom Green) feature-debut follow up, set 10yrs after the first film, tries to pull the same rabbit from the same hat but never quite gets its emotional tentacles in the same way. The monsters are now global-roaming and America's troubled involvement in the Middle East (yes, they're still there 10 years from now) has become compounded by their presence. With a rise of insurgency in the area, the military send in green draftees to help police the region, but after the team is decimated during an attack the survivors must hoof it through hostile, monster-infested territory to safety.
Unlike Edward's $500k MONSTERS there really is nothing new here. Sure there's a budget this time around but the first half is just a collection of any new-to-war-grunt cliches you can think of; they party the night before deployment, there's plenty of hoo-rahs and chest-bumping before the realities of war set in and so-on-and-so-forth. Oddly, it's not until the second act that things get a little livelier, at least on the character front. Beliefs are tested and psyches strained.
The trouble is, we've seen this half before too, in Edward's superior take on the world. If all this wasn't bad enough the film overstays its welcome by at least 20 minutes. Excessive bullet exchanges become a bore as does the countless shots of soldiers wandering through the desert. Needless to say, Green's film could have really used a heavier hand in the edit.
If there is a plus side it's that the CGI convinces (albeit, they seem less impressive given Gareth Edwards designed and rendered the first film's nasties himself in his own bedroom on his own laptop). Clearly, a lot of work has gone into the ETs, lending them a realistic cadence and weight that seems to be missing so often in other CGI monster-mashes. Couple this with Green's impressive eye for composition (who knew two soldiers waiting out a dust-storm next to a motorbike could look so good?) and there's (barely) enough momentum to help you limp through the overwrought two hour run time.
Not catastrophic but that's hardly a recommendation either.