Monsters – Dark Continent

I watched the first movie unknowingly – saw some trailer, blab la bla. And, all of a sudden, I found myself transported into a weird Earth world, where we cannot control part of the planet, because it is ruled (dominated) by massive aliens brought Earthside by a space probe that crashed (Earthside, DOH!). The first movie, low-budget, low-effort was a masterpiece showing the new World, the tragic histories and the new, unavoidable, un-bombable (is there such a word?) reality of huge alien things taking over and humans running for the hills.

The sequel, has been hailed as a war movie, with some monsters thrown in. I had read the reviews before I saw the reel. I went in, expecting a reviewer-inspired war flick, aliens+Iraq, Bedouins+weird, camels screwing aliens, aliens eating camels, goats scaring everyone, etc.
The critics were wrong.

Monsters Dark Continent IS a war flick. But, of course, not how you would expect it – there is a team of US soldiers, they do fight, they do “go in”, there is a lot of shooting. Standard war drama with people dying, soldiers suffering, partners being blown away, blood and death (and taxes?). You watch it and seek the components of the Hurt Locker, House of Saddam, etc. In the meantime, you discover that there is a second universe to this movie. Yes, the US Army is fighting the aliens on all fronts, bombing, shooting, killing, even running-over with cars. Aliens die, and US soldiers have fun. Individual aliens.

What we see is Humanity, represented by the US Army, winning individual battles, soldier-vs-alien fights. But, as the movie progresses, we begin to understand that Humanity as a whole, “owners of Earth” as a whole, are losing the WAR. Only in the desert, is it clear that the Bedouins, or whatever the tribes are, have found a balance with the alien creatures.
MDC is a movie about change – undesirable change where the governments will focus all their efforts on bombing, assassinating, killing, shooting, fighting. Billions will be wasted, millions of lives lost, economies bankrupted and territories destroyed. All in the face of an all-powerful enemy, able to ignore our weapons, capable of growing from small earth-sown seeds into creatures bigger than aircraft carriers in a matter of months. The progression is simple – whatever we throw at the aliens, they come back, bigger, stronger. A question appears in the heads of smart viewers: when will this escalation end? How big will be the last bomb? Dr Stangelove anyone?

Let us bypass the Gaia component, which sits nicely hidden, as little aliens vanish in the earth and reappear as giant beasts filled with weird energy. And then their next “incarnation” gets gaint-er and giant-erer… The movie skilfully points out that trying the same solution to a problem that has defeated our “solution” before is pointless, but our politicians simply love throwing the same ideas at mountains glass walls or… continents where “our idea of right and wrong” is not necessarily the ideal one. In the movie, the Bedouins are learning to live with the big scary aliens, but the US Army cannot. Especially a US Army that is NOT in the US but happily blows up other people’s countryside.
Ehhh, how to hide a hippy peace message in a sci-fi war movie 🙂

But, the clear message is a simple question: who are the monsters? Them, for living where they were thrown or us, killing anything that does not fit into our definition of “normal”?

Taking Chance

Combine Kevin Bacon with an amazing storyline based on an acclaimed short story based deep in real life and you have yourself a tearjerker. This is a movie that will make women cry and men, real men, either cry (secretly) or wipe their eyes claiming “allergies”. During this movie, I have MANY allergies.

This is not a movie about love. Not clear love. It is a movie about death, death in combat, suffering, loss, tragedy. A solider dies in Iraq and his body is transported from Baghdad to his final resting place in the USA. This is a movie about the dead soldier, PFC Chance Russell Phelps. None of us know him, none of us ever heard of him.
His body is the focal point of all human reactions. Reactions that make you THINK, PONDER, CRY.
This is a movie made regardless of war’s multiple sides – the enemies and good guys, heroes and villains. It is a movie about ultimate death, sacrifice for an ideological ideal and the suffering of normal people left behind to… live through the death/sacrifice.

Initially, you watch it to see the progress of the body. Taking Chance. Action on the battlefield, his trauma, death. Battle hospital. Diagnosis. Death = body. Incomplete body. Transport. Rammstein AFB (USA base in Germany), cleaning of body, progress. Body arrives in USA, undergoes the next stage of cleaning, analysis. You see the RESPECT offered to fallen soldiers by medical staff who NEVER met/knew the Fallen (with a capital F). And then you see the system for taking a body of a fallen soldier to his home. What other form of respect is there?
And the miracles begin. The accompanying officer getting upgrades at the airlines. Baggage staff respecting the coffin, pilots asking for passengers to WAIT until the coffin-accompanying-hero disembarks, lines of people saluting the (unknown)coffin. The pilot of a regional flight remembering the name of EVERY fallen hero he ever carried. The love, attention and devotion of every citizen that had the honour of witnessing the final journey of a fallen soldier. The little signals along the way make you think about love, honour, duty, service, sacrifice. Survivor guilt.

You see a motion picture and understand that in a good country, the Fallen are revered, respected, loved. They are Fallen FOR the nation. Nothing else matters. All sins, mistakes, errors, inadequacies, are GONE. You (they) died for the nation. All is forgotten, but your courage.

I am not a Marine. But I can only say (by claiming the right to the IMPOSSIBLE): Chance Phelps, you are remembered, because your final journey is so deep and powerful that, regardless of nation-state, YOU HAD AN IMPACT. Greater after your death, but an awesome impact nonetheless.
This is a movie for your darker evenings, when you need to be alone. You, your soul and a good bottle of expensive whiskey.

Rest in Peace, Pvt Phelps = @IMDB.

Semper Fidelis. Because none of us, outside the Marine Core, have the right to say “Semper Fi”.

Quote: “If you knew more soliders like PFC Chance Phelps, the world would not need the Marine Core.” Can there be a better admission/salute?
The movie shows us, normal people, that WE MEAN SOMETHNING, even in death. REMEMBER THAT.

And remember – PFC Chance Russell Phelps, USMC, 1984-2004.