In the remote jungles of Cambodia, the CIA conducts unauthorized tests of artificially intelligent combat robots created by a private company. Shooting a gang of armed drug dealers, the androids also destroy the inhabitants of the forest village, which is unwittingly witnessed by a former marine living there and a group of American medical students participating in a volunteer program. They manage to escape into the jungle almost without loss, but the CIA does not need witnesses.
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Judging by the name, the film crew (where Mark Toya is one in four persons – screenwriter, director, cameraman and editor), the cast (for example, Jose Reset is a quarter of a thousand films, of which the overwhelming majority are not in the ratings), the budget, and the plot – before us is the most ordinary trash.
Indeed, stylistically ‘Monsters Made by Man’ is thrash metal. Stylistically – that is, according to the form of the narrative, and not according to the content.
In terms of content, in my opinion, this is one of the best, if not the best, fantastic thriller of the outgoing year. And judging by the imdb rating, it is one of the most underestimated.
The name is already unusual, since the original Monsters of Man can be translated in any, and, judging by the plot, understood in everyone. This is already uncharacteristic for trash.
The cultural background of Human Made Monsters is, on the one hand, 1980s ‘jungle’ action films such as The Predator, Rambo 2 and Unusual Courage. On the other hand, there are ‘robotic science fiction’ like ‘Short Circuit’ and ‘I, Robot’. But there is also a political background – a scandal that broke out just during the filming, connected with the actions of the Australian special forces in Afghanistan. It is not clear, however, whether actual allusions were implied during the filming, but the film turned out to be ‘in the theme’.
The script – considering that this is a debut, that this is Australian low-budget fiction, that it is, in principle, thrash – turned out to be simply brilliant. The main advantage is convincing heroes, and convincing behavior of heroes. Medical students are not only called medical students, but they also behave like medical students – for example, when they see a wound, they say that it needs to be sewn up as soon as possible. Representatives of the ‘power structures’ (here they are antagonists) do not behave like crazy schizoids, but like ordinary ‘power’ professionals, for whom the line between ‘bad’ and ‘good’ is the line between completed and unfulfilled tasks.
There are a lot of plausible microsituations, which is also completely unusual for trash as a genre. For example, a special forces hero runs onto a rock, and does not run without stopping further, but stops to catch his breath. The hero’s contusion ends not a minute after the explosion, but much later. And a combat robot, for all its might, is capable, figuratively speaking, of slipping on an orange peel.
The geographical location of the filming is also very diverse. This is not a jungle, a jungle and again a jungle, but also a city and a village, and an abandoned temple, and mountains, and a cave, and a river. Mark Toya thus tried to give the story a scale, thus compensating for his small budget.
As I noted above, the direction is trashy here. Trashy – in the sense of the monotony of the director’s techniques, and the abundant use of shock effects (‘meat’). Some action episodes are filmed in a typical thrash manner; you can easily find various thrash cliches in drama. However, the director is always trying to revive this trash, to give it originality. For example, borrowing narrative clichÃ©s from horror: many of the scenes in the film are truly scary!
As for the acting, the heroes, as it should be in thrash metal, are flat. Including there is a blonde with long legs in short shorts and an opening shirt. So the actors, on the one hand, had nothing to play. Stanislavsky within the limits of a typical television series, and no more.
On the other hand, for each character in the film there is a micro-episode that takes him beyond the boundaries of the trash plane. And these micro-episodes allow the performers to remember about their grandfather Konstantin Sergeich. Here, in my opinion, Jose Reset, who was mentioned at the very beginning, played the role of an operative of the special services best of all.
If we talk about the shortcomings of the film, then the main disadvantage, because of which ‘Monsters made by man’ seems drawn out, despite the continuous action – a contradiction between the intentions of the scriptwriter-director-cameraman-editor, and the chosen genre. If this is thrash fiction, then there is no need for parallel narration, philosophical reflections, and the director’s irony is useless. Cut it all to hell and add nude blonde scenes! And if Mark Toya wanted to shoot a full-fledged fantasy, then all the characters had to be described in full, voluminous, like Cameron, Spielberg and Verhoeven, and not like in trash.
Codec: HEVC / H.265 (50.0 Mb/s)
Resolution: 4K (2160p)
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 16-bit)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
English SDH, Dutch.