Love and Monsters
Paramount’s Love and Monsters is skipping theaters and coming straight to VOD this week. Filled with witty humor and impressive monster action, it’s definitely one to check out. Here’s our full review.
Love and Monsters is one of the many films displaced this year. Originally slated to hit this past March, the film is now making its way directly into your homes. To be honest, this film wasn’t even on my radar when it was originally supposed to launch, and it wasn’t until the recent trailer that it came to my attention.
Being a massive fan of monster movies, I couldn’t believe this one managed to slip my notice. Thankfully, it turned out to be one of the better, more unique, monster movie outings I’ve enjoyed in a while.
The story of the film is relatively simple. An incident involving an asteroid and a bunch of rockets has turned Earth’s creatures into giant mutated monsters who subsequently took over the planet. After wiping out roughly 95% of the population survivors have been forced to live underground.
After seven years, Joel Dawson (O’Brien) is tired. He’s not the bravest of survivors, in fact, he’s down right cowardly and often freezes under pressure. Obviously this isn’t a trait that’s ideal in the post-apocalypse where dangerous monsters lurk everywhere. Even so, as he languishes under ground and the loneliness he feels becomes too much.
When the monsters began taking over and his town was evacuated, Joel and to part ways with his girlfriend, Aimee (Jessica Henwick). It’s a love he’s never been able to let go of, and even as humanity was forced underground, he kept searching for her with an old-school CB radio they use to keep in contact with other colonies. Years later, he eventually makes contact with Aimee, and though her location is only 85 miles away, it’s too dangerous a trek to make.
Finally fed up with feeling useless in his colony and lonely, Joel sets off on a “quest” (as he calls it) to reunite with his lost love. Things begin to go wrong almost immediately. As he makes his way he finds help with an unlikely--albeit skilled--pair of Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt) and Clyde (Michael Rooker). As Joel finally begins to learn how to survive on his own and overcome his cowardly nature he begins to contemplate the nature of the monsters and what the future of mankind could really be.
There’s actually quite a bit more going on with the story, but I don’t want to delve into any spoilers. While there aren't any huge twists that throw you for a loop (some things are actually easy to predict), it definitely goes in a direction I wasn’t expecting. Again, you’ll likely see some things coming as you watch, but it was a pleasant surprise to see the unique angle they took to the relatively simple concept.
I think what surprised me most was how impressive some of the monster action scenes turned out to be. The world is truly infested with monsters, and you can see the impact they’ve had on the world (even benign things) above. The creature designs are impressive, appropriately monstrous while still being clear on which real-world creature they mutated from. These make for a number of fun encounters packed with tension that I imagine will be able to hold up upon multiple viewings.
Humor and Heart
While I was definitely intrigued by this movie based off the trailer, I wasn’t prepared for how much of a damn DELIGHT Love and Monsters turned out to be. First of all, it’s hilarious. Seriously, I wasn’t expecting the level of comedy presented in the movie. Most of them are brought about via character interactions, as Joel finds himself in one inexplicable situation after another.
It’s very much in the same vein as Zombieland, except instead of dealing with zombies, we’re talking giant monsters. Hell, there are even “rules” that come into play during the film! In some ways it feels a bit more than a homage and almost a straight copy, but it’s so well done (and damn fun) that I didn’t care.
O’Brien does an excellent job of portraying Joel as the cowardly goober. He’s both sympathetic and instantly relatable. His naivete feels genuine and allows viewers to put themselves in his footsteps every step of the way. Despite the fantastical events, his journey is one that’s easy to see yourself in.
Underneath the humor and monster action (of which there’s a surprisingly decent amount), the core theme of the movie is one of hope and opportunity. Even though the world has essentially ended, Joel’s journey shows him the beauty that’s still present in the world. More so, he comes to learn that while the past is important and can help as you move into the future, one shouldn’t be beholden to it either. Not to the point where it holds you back from what’s possible.
Much as it’s a story about overcoming obstacles for others, it’s a poignant story about learning to do stuff for yourself. Finding the confidence inside you to do things you never imagined possible. Alongside those, there are touching points made about found family and belonging. In short, there are a number of great themes that manage to hit all the right notes and shine through. The result is a film that manages to delight on just about every level.
One of my favorite moments in the film (which I won’t delve into too much) brings together all of these themes in a singular gorgeous moment. At one point Joel meets up with a robot. Yeah, it’s strange and unexpected, but was surprisingly heartwarming and formed an emotional pivot point from which you knew things wouldn’t be the same.
Like many aspects of this film, it probably shouldn’t have worked and yet it does. Through a combination of the excellent performances that bring these characters to life and the way the world is crafted, I totally bought into it all.
I could see this not being for everyone. It feels like a “young adult” style of film and it lags a little bit in the final act, where a specific plot point sets things adrift. The charisma and charm of it all kept me invested, however, and the central themes feel perfect for all ages.