Love and Monsters (2020)
A fun and rewatchable movie
I can honestly say I didn’t expect to enjoy Love and Monsters nearly as much as I did. The movie has been available as video-on-demand since October 2020 but only when it landed on Netflix did I decide to give it a shot. And I’m very happy I did. The writing, cast, VFX and tone of the movie are all perfectly in sync with each other. Love and Monsters is a fun and rewatchable movie.
In Love and Monsters, after humans destroy an oncoming asteroid, Earth’s cold-blooded animals are mutated by the chemical fallout. Joel and his girlfriend get separated during the evacuation and end up living in different colonies. After he manages to track her location, Joel decides to leave his colony on his own to reunite with his girlfriend. But his habit of freezing in the face of danger will make his journey incredibly difficult.
I honestly expected Love and Monsters to be mindless CGI fun (think Godzilla vs Kong). Instead, it turned out to have a lot of heart and structure – in addition to its mindless CGI fun. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was sucked into the story. The plot and pacing were on point from start to end.
What I liked
Dylan O’Brien is the heart and soul of Love and Monsters. His performance highlights the fast-paced humor that makes the movie work. His dialogue is sharp and the movie’s strategic moments of reflection are delivered expertly. O’Brien almost single-handedly carries this movie.
The special effects in Love and Monsters were also a high note for the movie. Having giant toads, worms, snails and crabs populate this world was always going to be a challenge for any VFX team. Having those creatures appear mostly during the day made that task that much more difficult. To their credit, the team did a really good job. Love and Monsters has actually been nominated for Best Visual Effects at this year’s Academy Awards. I’m not sure if they deserve to win, but they definitely deserve to be nominated.
What I didn’t like
Love and Monsters feels like a zombie or road trip movie. And for the most part, this works beautifully. The movie doesn’t take itself seriously and it comes across as self-aware. Where Love and Monsters falls a bit flat is in Joel’s sense of family in this post-apocalyptic world. The movie’s main arc for him is reuniting with his girlfriend. However, there’s an underlying narrative about the family he had all along. And apart from a dog he finds on his trip, Joel’s connection to those characters don’t really feel like family. The movie needed a little more time and set up to better establish those connections for the audience to feel the intended emotions.
Love and Monsters is a genuinely fun watch. It’s lightweight, fast and funny. Just about every character (including a few bad guys) is likable for the right reasons. If you’re looking for a movie that’s easy to watch and surprisingly well-made, I’d highly recommend it.
Source: Paramount Pictures (2020)