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MonsterMonster on DVD

Hollywood has a history of glorifying villains.

In Monster, Charlize Theron plays Aileen Wuornos, a convicted serial killer who’s since been executed. The movie tells her story, which basically means that it’s an entirely one-sided guilt trip.

Aileen Wuornos was a prostitute, apparently because she’d been raped as a child. She hated her life and her lifestyle, but there wasn’t much else she could do. The evil capitalist society prevented her from getting a job or making any money other than what she charged for sex of one type of another. The film chronicles her “rise” to murderess, and her fall to death row inmate.

One day, Aileen met Selby Wall (Christina Ricci), a naïve young girl looking for someone to talk to her, and maybe even love her. The two hit it off eventually, and for the remainder of her life, Selby will be Aileen’s excuse for doing what she’s done. Every man she killed, she did so that she could provide a good life for herself and Selby. She tried to get a job, but again, the evil capitalist world prevented her from doing so.

The film succeeds because of the skill that went into making it. Writer/director Patty Jenkins makes her Hollywood debut with Monster, and it’s clear she has the talents to make a critic-friendly career, but it’s also clear that she’s still new to the whole thing. She mentions in an interview that she was more into the subject matter, and didn’t want to glorify Aileen and justify her actions.

Which, of course, is exactly what the movie does. Charlize Theron won a well-deserved Oscar for her performance in the film; it’s nice to see such a beautiful actress willing to take a risk and make herself look hideous for such a role. Christina Ricci gives a much better performance here than she’s done in most films, but she still doesn’t quite seem believable.

The film fails because it refuses to acknowledge the fact that Aileen may just be a bad person. Here, everything she did, she did because society made her, and because she just couldn’t catch a break. The rest of us are just lucky, or victimizers, I guess. The last two minutes of the film can’t even refrain from such tripe, and tries to lay one final guilt trip on us before the credits roll.

The movie can also be quite repetitive; during the second half, you feel like you’ve seen every scene before, and just wish they’d get the whole thing over with.

Monster is a well-made film that features a great performance by Charlize Theron. Unfortunately, typical Hollywood problems plague the film and make it so much less than it could have been. Recommended only for the curious or self-loathing liberals.

This Monster of a DVD features great audio and video, but only a few slim extras.
Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the picture has great color and detail, with very little dust or grain. Flesh tones are well done, particularly the immense detail in Aileen’s face. Audio is slightly better, although the surrounds don’t do much other than fill the room with the exceptional score and occasional sound effect. Dialogue and primary sound effects spread themselves through the front channels, while the rears take the remainder of the work. Audio comes in either Dolby Digital or dts 5.1.

Extras include a short featurette that is mostly interviews with the main players, but that does talk a bit about the making-of the film, a few trailers, a dts film mixing demo featurette, and an interview with Patty Jenkins and composer BT.

Monster, from Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
109 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital & dts 5.1
Starring Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern, Lee Tergesen and Scott Wilson
Produced by Charlize Theron, Mark Damon, Clark Peterson, Donald Kushner, Brad Wyman
Written and directed by Patty Jenkins 


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