Movie Review: Love and Monsters

By Andrew McManus - Contributing Columnist

Directed by Michael Matthews

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

Runtime: 109 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 (for action/violence, language, and some suggestive material)

We are back in theaters this week with a film I was excited for. I knew of the premise, which was a young man on a journey to find his lost love. The kicker was the outside world is a wasteland. Think Mad Max. The world is ravaged by GIANT creatures. The other option this week was the next Liam Neeson film and although I do love Liam Neeson, Love and Monsters intrigued me. Even the title is neat and to the point.

Onto the film.

We open with an “epic” score that sets the tone for this film. Immediately, I was excited for the journey to unfold. We get a voiceover from our protagonist Joel (O’Brien) that the world “had ended.” We learn of an asteroid coming to Earth called Agatha 616. He explains the human race does what it does best, and nukes the asteroid to prevent catastrophe. However, the nuclear chemical that came back down to Earth decimated everything. They lost 95% of the population and to make matters worse, the chemicals transformed all cold-blooded creatures into giant beasts. We then cut to different news articles explaining some of the terrors that awaited. The president was killed by a giant moth. A humorous story about a giant goldfish eating its owner….and cat is told. The dry humor is rampant in this film and I appreciate small anecdotes that made its way back into later parts of the film to draw a smile and a laugh.

We learn the Joel has been hiding in a bunker, with other companions for 7 years. When the “world ended” he was with his girlfriend Aimee (Henwick) and madly in love. They are separated in the chaos and their relationship is broken down to short talks over a radio. Aimee is in a bunker 85 miles away. We then learn that Joel isn’t your typical hero. He doesn’t hunt. He’s the “chef.” As an amateur chef myself, I can relate. He is also “shook.” He freezes in terror during a breach to the bunker and it’s obvious he is the weakest link. We get flashbacks throughout that help show the love between Joel and Aimee, and also explains more on why he “freezes.” These flashbacks helped add weight to the characters and the plot itself.

On another call with Aimee, Joel speaks on the fate of finding her from all the other sites on the radio. She says “What are the odds?” He explains he called 90 sites. The drive is there

for him, but can he finally live up to his potential? The last he saw Aimee is her taking off in her jeep to be with her family and him with his. He says, “I will find you.” Her response is, “You better.”

Joel has an epiphany. He is safe where he is, but one person made him happy. Aimee. He tells the crew he is going to go find her. They all say it’s a suicide mission, but he is determined. We now have the backstory of all parties involved (well most) and his quest is about to begin.

This journey reminded me of The Odyssey by Homer in a sense. Although Joel’s journey doesn’t last 10 years, it feels like lifetimes. First he meets his new right-hand, simply known as Dog. This companion truly becomes his lifeline at times and they bond immediately. In some films animal companions fall flat, but you will immediately fall for Dog and tap the armrest nervously in anticipation of the peril to come. We also meet a duo named Clyde (Rooker) and Minnow (Greenblatt.) Obviously, Michael Rooker is a stud. He channels a touch of The Walking Dead but he’s much kinder. His one-off jokes will make you smile, but the star of this group is Minnow. In the film, she is 8 years old and this kid can truly act. She is funny and had nice banter with the entire cast, and even Dog!

Last week we reviewed Hubie Halloween and that ranks up there as one of my favorite Adam Sandler films. This film ranks up there for me as well. For the most part, this is an original story. On top of that, the filmmakers have now created a universe which I HOPE more is to come. The creatures all looked EXCELLENT. I feel there was a mix of CGI and practical effects, but it was hard to tell the difference. Several scenic shots of the journey unfolding are beautiful to look at. Lastly, the acting was top-notch. Joel (O’Brien) carries this film. If you don’t believe him, you don’t care about the journey. You will. The story had a great message about believing in yourself and your abilities and sometimes in life we could all hear that from time to time. Go watch this film. Please support local business and don’t forget the large popcorn (with or without butter.) 4 stars out of 5

By Andrew McManus

Contributing Columnist

This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper

This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper