Love and Monsters ★★★★

This was a pure joy from start to finish. It features some of the most creative world building and special fx in recent memory, and an engaging adventure full of refreshing twists and actual human characters. There are several instances where you think the story is heading in one direction and then Duffield and Robinson throw some welcome subversion into the script and breathe life into its seemingly familiar story. We get a cheeky voiceover narration from our lead character Joel, played by Dylan O’Brien, which is reminiscent of that of Zombieland. And while such creative choice can run the risk of becoming grating, the commentary and meta-tendencies here are both funny and endearing. Joel’s canine companion, “Boy,” is also a nice touch as it allows him to voice his thoughts and emotions during a journey which would otherwise be spent alone. The inclusion of Aimee and Clyde also help develop our lead, guiding him through the treachery of the mutated world and teaching him to fend for himself on his quest to find his lost love. That’s not to say that they merely exist to serve his character’s journey, though, as they each come with their own individual struggles and nuances that make them who they are.

I feared this would play like a YA-novel adaptation, especially given its title and the fact that O’Brien has a history with such material in the “Maze Runner” series, but the reality is that Love and Monsters truly is its own unique breed. It’s a post-apocalyptic action-adventure, a love story, and a coming-of-age tale with surprising emotional and thematic depth. This will definitely be shooting up my ranked list for last year. I can even see it becoming a cult classic further down the road. Don’t sleep on this one!

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