Eye For Film >> Movies >> Love And Monsters (2020) Film Review
Love And Monsters
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Remember how everybody hated the narration on Blade Runner so much that it was excised and the film went on to do much better without it? The narration on Love And Monsters is even worse and the film would get a whole extra star without it, so if you're thinking of watching it without the sound (or subtitles), bear that in mind. The score is one of its better assets but you wouldn't miss much in terms of dialogue, and let's face it, you'd really be watching for the giant monsters anyway, right? Who needs all that boring human stuff?
This s a film which at least recognises that the monsters are the point, and delivers fairly well in terms of quantity and variety, even if its final boss monster moves all wrong and is a bit of a let down. Its main problem is human lead character Joel (Dylan O'Brien), who was clearly intended to be endearing hapless but has come out insufferably twee. He's the kind of guy you'd expect to see sitting in Starbucks wearing pre-distressed clothing and talking too loudly on his phone to an imaginary girlfriend, causing you to immediately leave and go somewhere else, ideally in a different city. Given that you're likely to watch this at home rather than in a cinema where there are other people to consider, the temptation to turn it off will be strong. You might want to wait a while, however, because this film has a saving grace which it would be a shame to miss out on.
Joel is not in Starbucks. There are, in fact, probably none of them left, because seven years ago the world was destroyed in a complicated incident involving geoengineering gone wrong and the sudden mutation of ordinary animals into giant monsters with one thing on their minds: lunch. As a result, he's hiding in a bunker with older, more competent people. They have intense romantic relationships, reminding him that he does not. In fact, he hasn't see girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick) since they fled their home city, though he does talk to her (too loudly) on the radio. When he takes it upon himself to travel overland to be with her, his bunker-mates worry, explaining to him that he has little chance of survival. Of course he foes it anyway, and that's when he meets the film's real star.
Hero, here playing a character called Boy (with support from fellow canine Dodge), is the most impressive canine star to grace the screen since the much-loved Uggie, and he is the main reason to watch this film. Despite the flimsiness of the rest of the script, Boy is actually well written, with a proper backstory of his own and his own set of motives and priorities. Why he latches onto Joel is a little unclear, but easily explained by loneliness or protectiveness - on their first encounter he has to step in and rescue the clueless human from a giant toad monster, setting the tone for their relationship. Hero is not just a dog who follows instructions but is one of those animals who comprehends what's going on and actually acts, easily outclassing his human co-stars.
There are moments of comedy between the humans which work, though the monotone nature of O'Brien's performance means they often lose something in the delivery. The visual world-building is appealing but derivative. There are a few nice supporting turns, notably from Ariana Greenblatt as a kid whom Joel meets along the way, and there are a couple of properly scary moments. Overall, there's a sweetness about the film that makes one really want to like it, but it just relies too heavily on previous, better work which it can't live up to. Too much of it is forgettable and the wrong parts will stick in your memory. The dogs deserve better.Reviewed on: 24 Apr 2021