Saturday, April 3, 2021

Movie with Abe: Love and Monsters

Love and Monsters
Directed by Michael Matthews
Released October 16, 2020

With the state of the world today, it’s no surprise that many have imagined post-apocalyptic scenarios. Initially perceived as purely science fiction, there are now many plausible theories for how humanity might be decimated not by nature or some unpredictable event, but instead undone by the response to a perceived disaster with truly unfortunate and irreversible consequences. Those who do manage to live will be left to fend for themselves, and their chances of survival depend on their ability to outsmart others and to work together for a common good, which is far from a widely-accepted notion. All that serves as the structure of this fairly expected but moderately enjoyable monster movie.

After radiation from bombs shot to destroy an approaching asteroid turn the animal kingdom into giant monsters, the human race is not doing very well. Pockets of people live underground, and Joel (Dylan O’Brien) is among them. He is not what anyone would describe as battle-ready, but learning that his girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick) is only eighty-five miles away prompts him to brave the surface and try to find him. Along the way, he meets a dog, a handful of large and terrifying mutated animals, and other humans that are either trustworthy and helpful or devious and ready to sacrifice him so that they can continue to prosper in post-apocalyptic times.

This film is Oscar-nominated for its visual effects, which serve mostly to transform its cold-blooded animals into something much more threatening. While those are indeed impressive and part of the more memorable scenes in this film, they actually play a surprisingly small role in a film that isn’t actually about nonhuman monsters at all. What Joel discovers most in the course of his brave journey on land is that it’s the people he meets and who talk to him in language he can understand that may be much more dangerous than the animals that can’t communicate what they think and feel.

In an overwhelming landscape of films and television shows that check in with humanity long past its expiration date, this one doesn’t particularly stand out. It feels as if it has been inspired by and assembled from a number of familiar projects featuring zombies or other villains, and what remains is mildly appealing but certainly not fresh. O’Brien is a competent lead, and Henwick, a recognizable face from “Iron Fist” and other media, makes Aimee a compelling character, while Michael Rooker, Arianna Greenblatt, and Dan Ewing provide adequate support as fellow survivors. This film is nothing extraordinary but does manage to fulfill its title’s promise, offering some humor and action mixed with romance and giant reptiles.


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