LOVE AND MONSTERS (2020)
SYNOPSIS: Seven years after the Monsterpocalypse, Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien), along with the rest of humanity, has been living underground ever since giant creatures took control of the land. After reconnecting over radio with his high school girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick), who is now 80 miles away at a coastal colony, Joel begins to fall for her again. As Joel realizes that there’s nothing left for him underground, he decides against all logic to venture out to Aimee, despite all the dangerous monsters that stand in his way.
Finally, there’s an apocalyptic thriller that is both creatively imaginative and far entertaining than those based on existing properties. And that includes leading man Dylan O’Brien’s The Maze Runner franchise.
O’Brien stars as Joel Dawson, a survivor of the war between humans and mutated monsters. Seven years have passed, Dawson and a small group of survivors have been hiding in an underground bunker ever since. But Dawson is missing his girlfriend, Aimee (Jessica Henwick from Iron Fist) who is now leading another colony 80 miles away.
Despite a tendency to freeze in the eyes of danger, Dawson decides to make the dangerous trek to reunite with Aimee. Armed with a crossbow and arrows and a notebook to jot down the dangerous monsters he encountered along the way, Dawson embarked on a trip whereby he realized there are more things to experience in life on the surface rather than underground.
Love And Monsters is a fun thriller that explores love, friendship and filled with compelling believable characters. It’s also a terrific story that has lots of heart. Michael Rooker (Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy) and Ariana Greenblatt (The One and Only Ivan) plays a pair of unrelated survivors who saved Dawson’s life midway. Rooker’s Clyde is a hardened seasoned survivor who taught the latter on survival skills. Ariana’s Minnow is a smart-ass youngster imparting zen-like archery skills to Dawson. Clyde and Minnow makes such a great pair and it’s a pity the two monster hunters aren’t on the screen much. But we will keep Minnow’s advice in mind, do not “brain out” and always remember to shoot like “a needle through water”.
Then there is a loyal dog nicknamed “boy” that follows Dawson on his journey. The friendship between Dawson and “Boy” is another reason why the flick is so genuinely entertaining and delightful. There are two critical scenes which detailed their well-crafted relationship. First a thrilling scene whereby Dawson saved Boy from being devoured by an underground monster and later on, Boy’s loyalty or stubbornness depending on your point of view that got them into a confrontation with the Queen sandgobbler.
Of course, a movie liked Love And Monsters relied a lot on the use of CGI. In an era where every monster related title comes loaded with plenty of visual effects, this is one movie that makes good use of it to tell the story. Thus, instead of employing effects to tell the entire story (e.g. Godzilla: King of Monsters), director Michael Matthews and writers Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson focused heavily on the character of Dawson and the development of the survivors he met to churn out a few well-meaning, well-choreographed monster attacks.
Rather than cutting corners and showing the CGI monsters in the dead of the night or bleak dark locations, all the cool creatures are shown crawling and attacking in broad daylight. So, prepare to spot gigantic mutated toad, centipede, snail and even a crab.
O’Brien is working his way as a lovable action hero on the big screen and he is great as the somewhat vulnerable, comical, nerdy Dawson. Half Singaporean Jessica Henwick shows she is not a damsel in distress and she once again proves she has the chops to pull a few hard punches. If not for covid19, Love And Monsters would make for a great time in theaters. It’s packed with riveting adventure and solid interpersonal drama; this creature flick is a highly satisfying romp if you asked me.
Review by Linus Tee