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(Day 10 of NaPoWriMo provided a straightforward prompt asking for a love poem. With this film in mind, I couldn’t help a little tongue in cheek regarding the boasts made by the lovestruck.)

Dear love, I know we’ve been apart too many days to count,
But I can still remember every contour of your face.
If it meant seeing you again, I’d climb the highest mount
Or cross the deepest river or such similar clichés.

But mounts and rivers had their day; new dangers have emerged,
And I would brave them all as well to be back by your side.
I’d vanquish vicious Spuzzards by the dozens if you urged,
And butcher every Chumbler that attempts humanicide.

Sand gobblers are nothing, whether colony or queen,
For I could take on hundreds with the thought of where you are.
One day I’ll make the trek and brave these threats that stand between;
Till then, within my bunker, I will love you from afar.

MPA rating:  PG-13

A good film doesn’t always have to revolutionize its genre or blow away expectations; sometimes it’s enough to just be entertaining and live up to its name, which Love and Monsters certainly does. Set in a near future where an attempt to destroy an asteroid (perhaps some alternate plot for Don’t Look Up) resulted in all coldblooded creatures mutating into giant monsters, the film follows Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien) on his journey to reunite with his girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick). After seven years living in separate survivor colonies, connecting only via radio conversations, Joel decides to brave the 85-mile, monster-ridden hike to his love, despite his clear lack of survival experience.

Love and Monsters fits snugly beside other post-apocalyptic survival films while keeping the horrific monster-vs-human action at bay with a largely fun tone and (thankfully) PG-13-level violence. While the monsters are obvious, thanks to Oscar-nominated visual effects, O’Brien provides the love in the title, his memories of Aimee fueling his drive to reunite. His relatable voiceover makes him a likable guide to this dangerous new world, joined at times by a dog named Boy and some other survivors like the pair of Michael Rooker and Ariana Greenblatt, who give him a crash course on how to get by in a world where nearly everything wants to eat you.

The film does somewhat step out of its expected mold by the end, subverting Joel’s expectations about love and found family. Despite its familiar elements, it’s nice to see an original adventure film that delivers exactly what it means to and that managed to win over critics and audiences despite the pandemic forcing it from theaters to a digital on-demand release. No matter how hard life might have gotten in the last few years, this film proves it could be much, much worse, and even that can be survived.

Best line:  (Joel, addressing other survivors) “If I can survive out here, anybody can. It’s like a good friend once told me:  Good instincts are earned by making mistakes. If you’re lucky enough to survive a few mistakes, you’re gonna do all right out here.”

Rank:  List Runner-Up

© 2022 S.G. Liput
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