(director: Michael Matthews; screenwriters: Brian Duffield/Matthew Robinson; cinematographer: Lachlan Milne; editors: Debbie Berman, Nancy Richardson; music: Marco Beltrami, Marcus Trumpp; cast:  Dylan O’Brien (Joel Dawson), Jessica Henwick (Aimee), Michael Rooker (Clyde), Dan Ewing (Cap), Ariana Greenblatt (Minnow), Ellen Hollman (Dana), Tre Hale (Rocko), Pacharo Mzembe (Ray); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen; Paramount Pictures; 2020-Canada/USA)

It’s silly but with some depth thrown in.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

South African director Michael Matthews (“Five Fingers For Marseilles”) presents a sci-fi adventure film set after the apocalypse that reveals a refreshing coming-of-age romance. It’s silly but with some depth thrown in as a pleasant goof on the usual sci-fi end-of-the- world film. It’s casually written by Matthew Robinson and Brian Duffield. The film veers between being a romantic-comedy or a horror film, and gives us a different look than what we usually get in such films. It delightfully tells us about the youth Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien, who centers the film with a good performance) and his risky search for love in dire times.

When an asteroid was about to hit Earth, chemical weapons were fired by rockets to destroy it. Though stopping it from destroying the Earth, the side effects were a deadly radiation fallout that kills off a sizeable portion of the population while turning bugs
into super-sized monsters that kill off most of the surviving population and make it necessary for any survivors left to seek shelter in underground bunkers.

The film begins some 7 years after that incident. Joel
lives in an underground bunker with other survivors. When he makes contact over the radio with his high school sweetheart, Aimee (Jessica Henwick), who got separated from him during the asteroid event, he goes on a dangerous 85-mile journey to find her in the bunker she’s living at. He goes despite being scared and when afraid freezes up, as his yearnings for love will overcome his fears.

The first half tells of his journey. It’s
highlighted by meeting two serious adventurers who have suffered much loss, Clyde (Michael Rooker) and the little girl Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt). He also travels with a stray dog he names Boy.

Though the slight plot and predictable contrived ending are definite faults, nevertheless the film is fun and leaves us ample reminders that using the methods of science to observe things are critical in saving lives (a valuable lesson for dealing with the current pandemic). Joel keeps a valuable diary, like a scientist, tracking details that occur. Through several life lessons learned by the brave hero, such as the merits of love and being observant, he survives the crisis.

Dylan O’Brien in “Love and Monsters.”

REVIEWED ON 10/27/2020  GRADE: B