When I first saw the title I thought, well that’s going to be a cheesy movie. In the end it turned out to be quite enjoyable which left me pleasantly surprised. Joel (Dylan O’Brien) the protagonist, is going on a classical “Hero’s Journey” overcoming all obstacles in a post apocalyptic supersized monster world to reunite with his love Aimee (Jessica Henwick).
I liked Dylan O’Brian as Stiles in Teen Wolf and I liked him in Love and Monsters (or “Monster Problems”). He’s fun to watch, meaning that this movie could have easily gone south fast were it not for the lightheartedness O’Brien together with his dog “Boy” creates that has us entertained throughout his journey.
The director (Michael Matthews) and writers (Brian Duffield, Matthew Robinson) did well not to come off as too serious and it pays off, even though the whole plot and twists are more than obvious, it’s not something we hold against it since we are entertained and so it is easy to overlook the shortcomings, esp. in the last part. First thing my son said about the captain? *Spoiler Alert?* “He’s the bad guy!”
It’s not so much about who the bad guy is or who reunites with whom, it’s more about the journey, about overcoming your fears, the need to connect and be useful beyond making a passable Minestrone. And we get that with Joel, when he finds Boy the dog and has conversations with him, when he meets Clyde (Michael Rooker) and Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt) and gets rescued and then taught much needed survival skills by an 8 year old kid and even when he (conveniently) finds a Mav1s robot with still some battery power left, never mind how, and again it’s never about the “on rails” plot and all about O’Brian’s performance that makes this watchable and enjoyable even though we all know what’s coming.
As far as monsters and suspense are concerned, this is not A Quiet Place although it helps to stay quiet when monsters are about, it’s just not that kind of a movie. While there may be a sense of danger, we never fear for Joel, he is too likeable to be killed off. Predictability aside, the movie does succeed in evoking emotion, the protagonist’s tragic loss, struggle, hardship, loneliness are all present but wrapped into a neat visual package that doesn’t push it too far and successfully uses voice over and journaling as an effective and oftentimes humorous story telling tool.
What does that leave us with? An at times funny, silly and melancholic adventure movie about a young man finding his place in the post apocalyptic world of mutated gigantic slugs, toads and centipedes that drove mankind to live in vaults underground like in a Fallout game but just like in those games, you leave your vault and discover there is a world above you, to explore, to live in, unless you get eaten by a giant crab.