Love and Monsters
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures
There’s a distinctly Amblin Entertainment vibe about 'Love and Monsters', a new sci-fi adventure that recently turned up on Netflix (after Paramount sold it, due to pandemic-related inability to get it a cinema release).
I daresay director Michael Matthews was inspired by the inventiveness of those halcyon Spielberg produced gems, as well as other beloved 80s comedy-horror flicks like 'The Lost Boys'. Why else would such a bleak futurescape be presented in such perky, upbeat, fun terms?
The film opens with glib, darkly comic narration relating the destruction of 90 percent of the human race. An asteroid on a collision course with Earth was destroyed by lots of missiles, only for falling debris to hit the surface and radioactively mutate various animals. Swarms of giant bugs and amphibians promptly decimated populations, as humanity underwent an ignominious food chain demotion to buffet lunch for monsters.
He recklessly decides to undertake the ludicrously dangerous seven-day trek.
All of which was rather inconvenient for our teenage hero Joel (Dylan O’Brien), as it involved separation from his crush Aimee (Jessica Henwick). Seven years later, he lives in an underground colony with various other young people. He isn’t allowed to go on hunting parties (where the surface is crawling with monsters) because he is more scared than everyone else, and isn’t a very good shot. Joel is told his skills lie elsewhere, such as cooking minestrone. However, he still talks to Aimee over the radio, as she has survived in another colony. One day, he recklessly decides to undertake the ludicrously dangerous seven-day trek to be reunited with her.
Various thrilling monster-related escapades ensue, with the requisite eye-popping visual effects and stunning Harryhausen-esque creature design. The script, by Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson, has plenty of wit and heart. O’Brien is relatably inept, depicting a satisfying character arc as he grows in monster-slaying prowess and pseudo-wisdom regarding matters of the heart. There are also a couple of enjoyable supporting roles for Michael Rooker and Ariana Greenblatt, as a monster survivalist expert and his adorably sassy young charge, respectively. Oh, and there’s a loveable dog for younger audience members to get anxious about whenever peril is near.
The film also has an uncanny timeliness.
The film also has an uncanny timeliness that couldn’t possibly have been foreseen by the filmmakers. With the human race hiding away, scared to go outside or interact, the film builds to a hopeful climax that will resonate with audiences gradually emerging from Covid lockdown. This is the icing on a very entertaining cake, one that will be doubtless devoured with enthusiasm by monster movie fans young and old.