Love and Monsters (2020)

If he can run a maze, then Dylan O’Brien can tackle anything and here, he tackles monsters in the second outing from South African film director Michael Matthews.

Seven years ago, an asteroid on Earth has caused a massive chemical fallout, resulting in cold blooded animals becoming giant monsters. For Joel Dawson, he was separated from his longtime love Aimee and worse, he saw his parents die. Now living in an underground bunker, Joel is considered an outcast as the refugees he lives with consider him afraid of going on the surface to hunt with them. When a monster ant locates the bunker and kills one of the refugees, Joel finds himself determined to do the impossible.

He decides to head to the surface after receiving a map from Aimee. Despite obvious reservations from the others, he heads and begins a long journey to find her. Along the way, he meets a survivalist, Clyde, and his daughter Minnow. They reluctantly help Joel, who also brought his dog Boy, find the right path towards Aimee and finding various monsters along the way. Will Joel find a way to reunite with Aimee or will the monsters prove to be too much for Joel?

If you like romance and monsters, why not put the two together for a wild adventure? This second outing from Michael Matthews is a fun ride that emphasizes on both fantasy and emotions. Matthews’ film debut Five Fingers for Marseilles took a raw emotional energy and put it in a modern-day Western set in his native South Africa. Here, Matthews takes Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson’s script and brings his vision to the tale of a young man set to reunite with his long-lost girlfriend.

Who better to take the role than Dylan O’Brien, the Maze Runner himself, in the lead role of Joel? Having played characters like Stiles in the Teen Wolf series as well as badass roles like Mitch Rapp in American Assassin, O’Brien seems perfectly cast as a young man who must gain the confidence throughout his long treacherous journey. Jessica Henwick makes the most of her limited screen time as Aimee, Joel’s girlfriend who we see in flashbacks as they attempt to escape the insanity from seven years ago only to be separated for far too long. They have however, kept in contact and he becomes determined to find her, despite being scared.

Michael Rooker and Ariana Greenblatt, the former Yondu for Guardians of the Galaxy and the latter, young Gamora from Avengers: Infinity War, are excellent as allies Clyde and Minnow. This wild father and daughter duo attempt to help Joel and with some of the monsters looking like oversized Pokemon (as with the case of the boulder snail), it is quite fun to watch. The film also pays a little homage to the 1975 sci-fi cult classic A Boy and His Dog with Joel’s dog being called Boy and the plot involves a boy and his dog traversing in a post-apocalyptic setting of sorts. The third act is even more enjoyable and has some major twists along the way.

Love and Monsters is a fun ride of a film and a great second film for Michael Matthews. Dylan O’Brien is the heart of the film as we get to go along for the ride of a lifetime.

WFG RATING: A-

A Paramount Pictures production. Director: Michael Matthews. Producers: Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen. Writers: Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson. Cinematography: Lachlan Milne. Editing: Debbie Berman and Nancy Richardson.

Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Jessica Henwick, Michael Rooker, Ariana Greenblatt, Dan Ewing, Ellen Hollman, Tre Hale, Pacharo Mzembe, Senie Priti, Bruce Spence.

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