Dec 31, 2020 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien) was just 16 when the Earth was hit with an extinction-level event. A large asteroid was barreling down on the planet, threatening to wipe out life as we knew it. While the scientists and military were able to break up the projectile before it reached the surface, it was the contents of those chemical rockets and bombs that rained down on the planet afterwards that proved to be our undoing. These toxic chemicals caused cold-blooded creatures such as bugs, reptiles and amphibians to mutate and grow, and soon humans became second rung the food chain. Ultimately, only 5% of the Earth’s population survived, living in small underground colonies. And so, for the past 7 years, Joel has been living underground with his makeshift colony family. Joel is more of an artist than a fighter, and he doesn’t really have the survival skills that his bunkermates do—he tends to freeze up at the sight of danger—and so his duties usually involve preparing soup or fixing the ham radio. Joel’s colony enjoys his company, and try to make him feel like he has an important role, but he knows better.

Two weeks earlier, Joel finally located his old friend Aimee’s colony on the ham radio. Aimee was his girlfriend at the time all of this started, but he hadn’t seen or talked to her since all this began. Joel was happy to discover that Aimee’s colony was just 85 miles away. An armed party of seasoned scavengers would be lucky to last 50 miles on the surface, let alone the 7 day journey that would be required to reach Aimee’s camp. However, Joel has grown tired of feeling useless in his camp, and is the only single person in his colony. If the end of the world was coming, he would rather not spend it alone. The journey isn’t going to be easy, and he’s going to need to find strength and bravery he never knew he had if he’s going to make it, but in the end, if Joel can once again find love with Aimee, the risk would be worth it.

Love and Monsters is a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable action/adventure/comedy/love story/coming of age drama about an unlikely hero on a journey of self-discovery. Joel is this really sweet, wide-eyed guy who wants to be the brave hero and help save his friends, even though he’s seemingly not very capable and a bit of a scaredy-cat. During his adventure, Joel crosses paths with some deadly creatures, but also meets some fun and interesting characters who help him along the way. Early on, Joel partners up with a puppy who had lost his owner, and the two become fast friends. Later, Joel and Boy team up with seasoned topside survivalist Clyde (Michael Rooker) and his precocious young charge Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt), who teach him the tricks to surviving in this post-apocalyptic world. He’s going to need to put all this new information to good use if he’s going to make it to Aimee’s camp—and even then, this will prove to just be the beginning of Joel’s adventure.

The film sets up this really fun, unique and somewhat beautiful post-apocalyptic world, filled with bizarre but deadly creatures and vegetation. Joel finds himself in a very different-looking Earth as he returns to the surface for the first time in seven years. While the film provides a few jump scares, it’s certainly not a gory end-of-the-world thriller. The film is similar in tone to Zombieland, adding a lot of humor to what would normally be a horrifying situation. While Joel does cross paths with plenty of giant creatures that we do see, the filmmakers also make great use of what we don’t see to enhance the humor and experience. Often we just hear the sounds or get a slight glimpse of some of these deadly creatures, allowing the viewer’s imagination to fill in the gaps and flesh out this post-apocalyptic world. As he goes on his journey, Joel is constantly drawing in his sketchbook, noting details about the creatures he sees and their weaknesses, or he’s writing notes for Aimee. This provides a really fun narration as we hear Joel’s inner monologue, filled with sarcastic dry humor, often downplaying a lot of the danger that he has encountered.

The casting of the film is excellent—I couldn’t imagine anyone other than Dylan O’Brien in the role of Joel. He really brings this character to life and plays his awkwardness and faux-bravery to perfection. Michael Rooker is a welcome addition to the movie, adding a lot of humor but also being the father figure and mentor to Joel. And Ariana Greenblatt really steals the scenes she is in—she has amazing comedic timing, and there’s just something hilarious about the totally-inappropriate things that come out of this 8-year-old. Overall, the film is filled with great performances, beautiful scenery, and lots of humor and heart, making for a really entertaining and amusing adventure.

Paramount’s 4K Ultra HD release looks and sounds excellent. The film starts off in the dark bunker, but the picture remains clear and detailed. Once Joel heads out onto the surface is where things really start to look amazing, with the sunlight and the bright, beautiful colors of the overgrown grass and vegetation, and the colorful giant creatures who all seem to want to make Joel into their lunch. The picture remains crisp and detailed throughout, and the creature effects (which seem to be primarily practical) blend in nicely and help make the danger and threat to Joel feel more real (though at times a bit campy). At the same time, the film also has a bit of an over-the-top fantasy look and feel. One area where the presentation really shines is in the audio. For every creature you do see, there are at least 2 more that you only hear. The stereo and surround channels are used effectively to make the chittering and sounds of these creatures come to life from all directions. There is also always some ambiance—whether it’s general sounds of nature, or the pouring rain and rumble of thunder coming from overhead—which results in a really immersive viewing experience.

The 4K Ultra HD releases includes both a 4K and a Blu-ray disc packed in a standard 4K keepcase with a cardboard slipcover and an insert containing redemption instructions for a 4K digital copy of the film (it is not Movies Anywhere compatible). All of the bonus material is limited to the Blu-ray disc and digital copy (depending on where digital copy is redeemed). The supplemental material includes 12 minutes of deleted/extended scenes and 15 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes with the cast and filmmakers. While I enjoyed the bonus material that was provided, it would have been great if they had given more of an in-depth look at how the amazing creatures were brought to life (there is just a really short glimpse in the second featurette).

What’s Included:

Film: (1:48:51)

    4K Ultra HD:

    • 2160p / Widescreen 2.39:1
    • Dolby Vision / HDR10
    • Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Audio Description
    • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish


    • 1080p / Widescreen 2.39:1
    • Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Audio Description
    • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

    Digital (code may not be valid after 1/5/2023):

    • 4K digital copy redeemable via Apple TV, Vudu or Fandango Now (NOT Movies Anywhere compatible)

Bonus material is only included on the Blu-ray disc and digital copy, though availability may vary by digital provider.

  • Deleted Scenes (11:50)
    Collection of 6 deleted scenes. Play All, or select from:

    • Hopeless Romantic (1:37)
      Joel bargains with Ray to use the radio.
    • Without Love, What’s the Point? (1:54)
      Joel tries to console his bunker-mate after her loss.
    • Car Critter (3:55)
      Less than a mile into his journey, Joel makes his way to a car, which comes under attack by a creature. (Effects are not finished.)
    • Good Luck Charm (2:14)
      Extended wrapper scene around flashback where Aimee gives Crocodile Carl to Joel.
    • You Guys are Safe Now (:34)
      Joel excessively fires a gun to open the locked door at Aimee’s colony.
    • Back at the Bunker (1:33)
      Extended version of Joel’s journey back to his colony.
  • Bottom of the Food Chain: The Cast of Love and Monsters (7:43)
    The cast and filmmakers talk about the characters and premise of the film. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with director Michael Matthews, executive producer John Starke, lead dog trainer Zelie Bullen, and stars Jessica Henwick (“Aimee”), Dylan O’Brien (“Joel”), Michael Rooker (“Clyde”), Ariana Greenblatt (“Minnow”) & Dan Ewing (“Cap”).
  • It’s a Monster’s World: Creating a Post-Apocalyptic Landscape (7:04)
    The cast and filmmakers talk about the sets and locations that bring this post-apocalyptic world to life in Australia. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with executive producer John Starke, supervising location manager Duncan Jones, director Michael Matthews, director of photography Lachlan Milne, head of creature FX Steven Boyle, production designer Dan Hennah, and actress Jessica Henwick.


Final Thoughts:

My Rating
Highly Recommended

Love and Monsters is a fun, well-written, and delightful post-apocalyptic coming of age action/adventure story with lots of humor and heart. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, which had me constantly smiling and laughing throughout. Dylan O’Brien is perfectly cast as Joel, this awkward, scaredy-cat everyman who is thrust into this dangerous situation all in the name of love and trying to be the hero. Paramount’s 4K release looks and sounds excellent, and includes a small but entertaining selection of bonus material.

Get it on Apple TV