Love and Monsters

Love and Monsters ★★★★

I knew I would like Love and Monsters since it's about love and monsters. The immensely likable Dylan O'Brien lives in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have been forced underground because of giant monsters—the backstory is efficiently delivered in amusing opening narration with helpful drawings—but he's, well, bad at surviving. He's quite at peace with his loserness, though, and it's very endearing. Seven years after being separated from his girlfriend, Jessica Henwick, though, he finally locates her and discovers she's only a seven-day journey away, so he resolves to make the trek and reunite with his long-lost love of his life. Although O'Brien does meet a couple other folks aboveground to give the movie some Zombieland vibes for a stretch, he really has to carry the majority of the film on his back, and his Big Adam Brody Energy prevails. He plays the character with just the right amount of backbone—not too much, but also not too little—so that even if you could write the film off as yet another story of Mediocre White Man Gains Self-Confidence, you're really rooting for this doof. Screenwriters Brian Duffield (who's becoming a real favorite) and Matthew Robinson use the narrative device of O'Brien writing letters to his girlfriend to offer insights into his character development, and while that makes it feel like this movie was based on a young adult novel, it's not! It's just using familiar tropes repackaged in a fun and appealing package. Hell, there's a wonderful scene with a robot for some reason because why not also have a robot in this monster movie. The monster action is surprisingly light, but when it's there, it's engaging, with creative designs based on mutated animals and insects and lots of goo. The visual effects are occasionally dodgy, and director Michael Matthews doesn't always present a clear sense of scale for the creatures within a particular action scene, but overall it's solid monster mayhem. The third act packs a lot of plot into a short time, but it does effectively build on the rest of the film for a very satisfying conclusion. Plus you do get to see Henwick kick some ass of her own. For fans of post-apocalyptic stories, giant monsters, and romantic love quests, Love and Monsters delivers on all fronts and several more!

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