The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Netflix] - LOVE AND MONSTERS | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Netflix] - LOVE AND MONSTERS

love and monsters review
A young man treks across a giant monster infested land to reunite with his old girlfriend.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Michael Matthews

Starring: Dylan O'Brien, Jessica Henwick, Dan Ewing, Michael Rooker, Ariana Greenblatt

love and monsters poster

Young Adult sci-fi movies set in dystopian near-future worlds rarely display much in the way of a sense of humour. Refreshingly, director Michael Matthews (Five Fingers for Marseille) and screenwriters Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson have adopted a light-hearted approach for their post-apocalyptic romp Love and Monsters. Think Zombieland but with giant '50s b-movie style insects instead of the over-used walking dead.

As an animated prologue informs us, at some point in the near future (though far enough for sentient androids to be prevalent) Earth is threatened when our plant finds itself in the path of a giant asteroid. The nations of our world unite to develop missiles capable of destroying the rock, and so it seems we've been saved. But when radiation from the asteroid's destruction rains down, the insects of Earth grow to giant proportions, and soon 95% of the human population has been wiped out, with survivors living underground in fortified bunkers.

love and monsters review

It's after seven years of such an existence that we find our hero Joel (Dylan O'Brien - I can't be the only one who always confuses this guy for Logan Lerman?) itching to reunite with his high school girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick), whom he just recently established radio contact with. Trouble is, Aimee lives 85 miles away, and as Joel's bunker buddies warn him, no human has ever survived such a dangerous journey. Despite having a reputation for freezing when confronted by monsters - which has led to him always being left in the bunker when it's time for a supply run or to fend off an attack - Joel arms himself with a bow and arrow and a map, and sets off across the giant insect infested landscape.

Joel's journey rarely offers much in the way of originality or inventiveness as he stumbles into scenarios that feel carbon copied from similar movies. As with I Am Legend, Joel immediately gains a canine companion (the dog is an incredible actor, even when performing in front of a greenscreen), which gives the screenwriters an easy way of getting information across through dialogue, even though we're already treated to Joel's thoughts through voiceover. Much of the giant monster action is straight out of Tremors and Starship Troopers, though the movie lacks the former's charm and the latter's sharp satire. A love rival in the form of a hunky Australian sailor (Dan Ewing) is a clone of the blonde-haired fop from the Zucker brothers' Top Secret.

love and monsters review

O'Brien is affable enough as Joel, but after setting him up as a nebbish in the opening scenes, the film fails to exploit the comic potential of how out of depth he is. One side effect of the movie resolutely refusing to take itself seriously is that we never really feel like Joel is in any real danger. This could have been compensated by playing up the Bob Hope meets Woody Allen aspect of his character, but the schlemiel of the early scenes soon evolves into a rather generic action hero.

The film picks up with the introduction of a pair of human travelling companions for Joel in the form of Michael Rooker, cast against type as an avuncular survivalist, and Arianna Greenblatt as his precocious adopted daughter. But once Joel parts ways with this likeable pair, it's back to him spilling his guts to his dog and getting into uninspired adventures before the usual CG heavy climax.

love and monsters review

Said CG takes away much of the retro charm of Love and Monsters. Maybe I'm just stuck in my ways, but I suspect I would have found this a lot more winning if the film had dared to go the whole hog and give us old school practical FX for its giant monsters. The CG just never fools us into believing the monsters are sharing the same physical space as Joel and the other humans.

Love and Monsters is another movie to find unintentional resonance in our COVID infested time, and its ultimate message - that we should get out and face the world rather than hiding away in our bunkers - has a very different impact than the filmmakers could have ever imagined.

Love and Monsters
 is on Netflix UK/ROI now.

2021 movie reviews