It’s over a year after the planned theatrical release LOVE AND MONSTERS finally available in United Kingdom – and promptly conquered the top position on Netflix. We reveal in our review how entertaining the monstrous adventure is.
OT: Monster Problems (CAN/USA 2020)
Joel (Dylan O’Brien) and Aimee (Jessica Henwick) are a young couple who believe the world is their oyster. But then an almost fatal incident occurs – which the countries of the world handle so catastrophically that their intervention turns humanity from bad to worse: numerous animals suddenly mutate into large, voracious monsters. Soon afterwards, the political structures collapsed and 95 percent of the earth’s population died. A few years later, Joel, who is holed up underground, has the opportunity to get back in touch with Aimee. And without further ado, he decides to take the dangerous 80-mile journey to see his love again. On the way he meets, among others, the grim Clyde (Michael Rooker) and the tough eight-year-old Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt)…
“Love and Monsters” was one of the first cinematic victims of the Corona pandemic: Originally scheduled for a theatrical release on March 6, 2020, Paramount Pictures initially postponed production to April 17, 2020. Looking back, it was a very optimistic decision. While there was a parallel release in cinemas and on VOD in the USA on October 16, 2020, the studio decided to postpone the film further internationally. After initially hoping that it would also be released on the big screen on February 12, 2021, it was ultimately sold to Netflix – where it landed at number one in the current internal streaming charts shortly after its launch. The film, produced by “Night at the Museum” director Shawn Levy, has already received some hype in the run-up to its local premiere through the Academy Awards – where it was enough for an Oscar nomination in the “Best Effects” category. And rightly so: the trick effects, especially the monsters mentioned in the title, are very successful. They are very convincingly integrated into the real footage, animated in such a way that the mutated animals have visual “weight”, and the design of the horror creatures finds a constant balance between realistic and fantastically original.
Alongside Joel (Dylan O’Brien), the four-legged boy is the secret star of “Love and Monsters”.
But it’s not the computer-animated monsters, but a very real animal that becomes the secret star of the film: the incredibly loyal Australian Kelpie named Boy, discovered by Joel – a lovable dog who is obsessed with wearing his former one’s dress Protecting the owner and always saving Joel from emergency situations. The animal training (performed by Zelie Bullen) is outstanding, so that the boy actors Hero and Dodge make an animal sidekick with character that you would love to worry about. It is also the friendship between Joel and Boy that sets “Love and Monsters” most clearly apart from another action-packed and humorous post-apocalyptic story about a jumpy and nerdy young man: “Zombieland” from 2009. That The development of “Love and Monsters” began three years after the big surprise success of “Zombieland”, and given the many parallels, it can’t be a coincidence: Joel draws all the monsters and notes down what their peculiarities and weaknesses are – and he uses these drawings Beginning of the film to inform the audience as a narrator about how this world works. “Zombieland” opened in a similar way, except that there are snarky, commented clips that illustrate the rules that are important for survival in the zombie apocalypse.
“The animal training is outstanding, so that the boy actors Hero and Dodge make an animal sidekick with character that you would love to worry about. It is also the friendship between Joel and Boy that most clearly sets “Love and Monsters” apart from another action-packed, post-apocalyptic story with humor.”
And just as Jesse Eisenberg’s character Columbus encounters, among other things, a rugged firearms professional and a bright little girl who is clearly tougher than him, Joel also runs into a rugged firearms professional and a bright little girl during his journey across the country. Luckily, the screenwriters are looking at Brian Duffield (“The Babysitter”) and Matthew Robinson (“Dora and the Golden City”) Don’t go into too much detail about “Zombieland”: The central character dynamics of the film are set up differently, and above all, any “Zombieland” parallels are always just brief snapshots before “Love and Monsters” takes another path again – for example by means of an equally heartfelt like cleverly written encounter with an artificial intelligence or a third act that (if at all – and definitely purely by chance) is more reminiscent of the “Zombieland” sequel than the original. Unlike the “Zombieland” films, however, the human characters remain pale. Dylan O’Brien is sympathetic as the frightening protagonist who gathers all his courage, but his role – like the entire two-legged inventory of characters – is designed with too little profile to leave an impression. That’s enough for an entertaining film, but not much sticks.
An artificial intelligence crosses Joel’s path…
Conclusion: “Love and Monsters” is solid entertainment with well-animated monsters and one of the best film dogs of recent years. You can also turn a blind eye to the pale human figures.
“Love & Monsters” is now available to stream on Netflix.