Love and Monsters Review
As an avid movie-goer, the hardest part of these last seven months for me has honestly been the fact that there are few new releases to watch. Which was why I had high hopes for this movie. I liked the concept, I liked the trailer, and the early reviews were good. So my expectations were high. And this film met those expectations and then some. The concept is simple: a meteor was headed for Earth but we blew it up. Sadly, all its radiation rained down and caused all cold-blooded creatures to mutate into monsters that eradicated most of the population. And that's where the film picks up, seven years after following the life of Dylan O'Brien's Joel and his colony. O'Brien shines in this role, a character with a lot of flaws but also a lot of virtues that make him so much more relatable. He freezes in the face of danger and has few survival skills but is still adorably charming and always optimistic. After losing his family in the monster attack, Joel has kind of stayed as a sixteen-year-old for these seven years, trying to hold onto what he still has. So when he learns his old girlfriend Aimee is still out there, he risks the outside world to go looking for her, mainly because the rest of his colony have paired off, leaving him alone. (The one disappointing thing in this film is the lack of LGBTQ characters). This film is based a lot on what has come before with what appears to have several cliche tropes. But it takes what you expect and twists it around, showing you something else instead and keeping you hooked. Joel's journey kind of represents the journey any one of us would have in his shoes, constant doubt, improvisation, and a tendency to run away. And yet, learning from our mistakes, and growing stronger become of them. Joel is not some badass hero to aspire too. He's a human being, which just makes him that much more inspiring and O'Brien brings him to life perfectly. In other cast members, Jessica Henwick's Aimee does not play a damsel in distress or a steretypical love interest. In a way, she plays the opposite of Joel's character. While he never grew up in the last seven years, she grew up too fast, forced to take on more responsibility and take care of her entire colony, becoming a strong and independent character. This is far from a typical love story as both have become very different people over time and won't just find their back to each other at a fingersnap. Their character arcs are the highlight of this film, followed closely by Boy, the adorable dog that accompanies Joel on his journey. One of the major themes of this film is loss and how you cope with it, even for the dog who lost his owner and still carries around her belongings. There are many scenes that make this point clear and all of them are expertly crafted. Thankfully for a movie called Love and Monsters, there are plenty of monsters, shown in a mixture of CGI and practical effects that really comes through. Taken inpiration from many horror movies, each monster attack will get your heart racing as you wonder what will happen next, even the last battle where the real monsters are revealed. In short, there is very little about this film that doesn't work. It was a joy from beginning to end. And, in a world where there is a bombardment of sequels, reboots, and adaptations, it is so refreshing to watch a film that is none of the above but stands on its own and makes it work. There aren't many of those around that are this good so we have to treasure each one we can.