Monster (2018) Review

RATING: 2.5/5

A film student is walking on a thin line between being free or being sent to jail for many years.

A movie with a great cast, but had mediocre end results.

Performances throughout ranged from decent to good. The standouts to me were Steven Harmon (played by Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and Mr. Harmon (played by Jeffery Wright). The scene with the two talking to each other was an emotional one especially when Mr. Harmon looked as though he was about to burst into tears, but he kept a calm and collective composure.

For the rest of the characters, while the movie featured an assortment of actors/actresses (Jennifer Hudson, Tim Blake Nelson, John David Washington, A$AP Rocky, Nas, Jharrel Jerome), they didn’t offer much when it came to complexity. They all gave fine performances, but there wasn’t a whole a lot of time or development for me to gravitate toward. That feeling fell in line some with Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Jeffery Wright.

The best example of this were the prison scenes. I didn’t feel the journey or pain that Steve was going through because of how the film was edited together. The movie was 98 minutes long, to which I feel was a tad short. If the movie was 10 or 15 minutes longer, I might have gotten more invested. With the prison scenes, there needed to be more scenes involving Nas being Steve’s emotional anchor. He was sorely underused. That unfortunately transcended onto the other high-profile figures like John David Washington and Jharrel Jerome, who were pretty much there and gone after a couple scenes. No offense to them, they can do phenomenal stuff, but here I don’t believe it was warranted.

One aspect I liked was during one of the film school sessions when Tim Blake Nelson was talking about how people have different perspectives when viewing any feature. That goes very parallel to what was happening in the courtroom scenes. People were watching the same event unfold in front of their eyes, but they all have varying opinions of what they think. People have their own mindset on how the world works around them. Something that Steve knew full well and that made him very nervous for all the right reasons. I liked the back and forth struggle that he was dealing with. Should he continue fighting and prove he’s not guilty or should he accept the harsh reality and give in to the consequences?

How the film was edited, shot, and arranged left me mixed. There were some nice shots here and there. But, the movie would jump from scene to scene or from location to location, thus hindering any kind of character development or emotional connection. Pacing was all over the place. There was a weird moment where tones clashed with one another. For example in the first courtroom scene, there was upbeat drums playing and one was supposed to feel bad for Steve. But the gray/dull look of the courtroom, the up-tempo music, and when Paul Ben-Victor called Steve a monster, I don’t know why but I laughed. Again, I’m supposed to feel bad, but the last two elements really hurt that scene for me due to it being tonally off and the execution of the dialogue.

While not bad, it was pretty average to say the least. A shame because with a really good cast like the one presented, one would have expected something good. The potential was there, but if there was more room to breathe, maybe the movie could have been something worthwhile. In the end, it didn’t really leave much of an impact for me.

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