Gareth Edwards’ 2010 Monsters was a little gem, extracting maximum effect from very minimal resources to deliver an offbeat genre film that was at once a fragile love story and an ambiguous monster movie with much to say about First World/Third World dynamics. A lot of people like it. Tom Green’s sequel pisses that goodwill up the wall with a meat-headed Iraqistan allegory compiled from the Big Book of War Movie Clichés.
Our heroes, who I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to actually like, are a bunch of blue-collar would-be workers from burnt-out Detroit who have little option in life but to join the army, and thus find themselves somewhere in the Middle East, which has become an Infected Zone, just as Mexico was in the first film. This means that massive herds of wandering squid-like beasties are rampaging across the deserts and through the cities. Trouble is, the US army’s attempts to keep the areas quarantined and stop the aliens spreading has resulted in a hell of a lot of collateral damage, an angry population and thus an army of local insurgents intent on repelling the human invaders from their soil. Amidst this mess, our Detroit crew, now christened ‘Team Tiger Shark’, is assigned to veteran Sergeant Noah (Johnny Harris) to rescue a lost platoon.
What follows is a series of scrapes with both the beasties and the locals, wherein Team Tiger Shark get severely whittled down, Noah begins to lose his mind and the remaining grunt (Sam Keeley) goes a little native and realises that maybe bombing the living crap out of people is wrong, that the monsters are occasionally quite pretty, and that Arabs, like, have children too. To be fair, there is a fair amount of visual spectacle, the action sequences are quite well mounted, and the last act is admittedly more interesting than what has preceded it, but honestly, by that time I was past caring.
There are two main problems. One is that, from the moment we meet them, Team Tiger Shark are such a bunch of ‘bro’s before ho’s’, ‘I’ve got your back out there, man’ coke n’ hooker-using macho dick-swinging arseholes that, frankly, couldn’t die fast enough. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t Green’s intention, at least if all the music that kicked in any time one of the pricks got injured is anything to go by.
Problem two is that the monsters of the title have an oddly underwritten, undefined and minimal role to play in their own film. Sure, we see a lot more of them, and beautifully realised they are too. It’s just that, well, you could remove them entirely from the story with very little effect on things. Their part in the narrative could be replaced by sandstorms or unexploded bombs. Surplus to requirements, they are reduced to decoration, as the unremarkable sub-Platoon dynamics take centre stage.
A horribly misjudged, irritating film.
Watch the trailer: