Blah and Border: The tepid Monsters blends immigration and extraterrestrials.

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Relationships should never get in the way of otherworldly destruction—especially when your film’s called Monsters. Writer-director Gareth Edwards’ buzzy debut is remarkable for its reported $15,000 budget but not much else. It’s derivative, especially aping Cloverfield, District 9, War of the Worlds, and even Jurassic Park. Its two leads are charmless at best and slap-worthy at worst. But, most egregious of all, Monsters is just boring. Opening text tells us that six years prior, NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. After a probe broke up over Central America, “creatures” began to appear, enormous tentacled things that show up seasonally within an area that was quickly designated an “infected zone.” A giant wall went up between the United States and Mexico, and any vacationing American unlucky enough not to get back home before lockdown had to pay mucho dinero for sorta-safe transport. That’s what happened to Sam (Whitney Able), the spoiled daughter of a rich publisher who’s mildly injured in an attack. So Andrew (Scoot McNairy), a photographer who works for Sam’s father, is tasked not with documenting the aftermath but with getting the Cameron Diaz-lookalike home. She’s unhappily engaged, he’s furiously single—of course there’s going to be an attraction. An alleged one, anyway. There aren’t many believable sparks between these two bland actors, and not only do you not care if the characters get together, you eventually root for their demise. But monster mayhem isn’t, ironically, all that significant in Monsters. Unlike Cloverfield, you at least get decent glimpses of the creatures, who roar and bellow as their tentacles wriggle around, Kang and Kodos-style. Besides opening-scene and midfilm attacks, though, not much happens when they do appear; Edwards, unlike the audience, is too interested in what’s going on between Sam and Andrew. Then there’s that business of the wall, and how the creatures are angriest when U.S. military planes appear. Wait, could the true monsters be…us? Yawn.