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Michael Matthews
Dylan O'Brien, Jessica Henwick, Michael Rooker
Writing Credits:
Brian Duffield, Matthew Robinson

In a monster-infested world, Joel attempts to travel 85 miles through dangerous territory to rescue his girlfriend.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Dolby Vision
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Audio Description
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 1/5/2021

• “Bottom of the Food Chain” Featurette
• “It’s a Monster’s World” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Love and Monsters [4K UHD] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 23, 2020)

Usually movies that deal with post-apocalyptic scenarios don’t earn the promotional appellation “fun-filled”. However, 2020’s Love and Monsters comes with that praise, so I’ll see if the film earns it.

Due to a “Monsterpocalypse” that led mutated creatures to take over the world, the remaining humans find themselves stuck in survival mode underground. In this situation, Joel (Dylan O’Brien) manages to reconnect over the radio with his high school girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick). The pair became physically separated during the initial monster attack seven years earlier.

When Joel learns that Aimee now resides about 85 miles away, he decides to find her. This leads Joel on a dangerous quest to trek this distance across perilous, beastie-filled territory.

Whereas the COVID-19 pandemic meant most movies got delayed releases, apparently the opposite occurred for Love, as Paramount pushed up its arrival. Initially intended to hit screens in February 2021, the studio instead put it out via “video on demand” in October 2020, though it also made it to a few hundred theaters as well.

Paramount apparently made this choice to fill the entertainment void created by all those delays. With few new movies on the scene, I guess they figured Love could make a bigger splash in the less crowded marketplace of fall 2020 versus the potentially busier period of February 2021.

As such, we’ll never know what kind of business Love could’ve done in a normal marketplace. Based on what I saw, I doubt it would’ve become a blockbuster, but the quirky little action flick might’ve found a decent cult audience.

I entered with some skepticism, partly because I initially thought O’Brien might be a bit too old for the part. Now close to 30, he seemed a bit long in the tooth for a character such as Joel.

That said, I guess Joel’s supposed to be about 24, so O’Brien doesn’t seem too much older than the character, and he manages to play younger and naïve pretty well. He makes Joel believable and likable, important aspects for a part like this, especially since we spend the vast majority of the running time with him.

O’Brien gets a boost when the movie pairs him with Hero and Dodge, the two Austalian Kelpies who play Boy, the canine companion who joins our lead along the way. Boy immediately becomes our most engaging participant as well as a valuable point of interaction for Joel on his largely solitary journey.

Largely but not entirely, as Love follows a standard “hero’s quest” framework and allows Joel to run into a mix of others along the way. Boy becomes Joel’s only constant friend, as others come and go.

While predictable, this structure works fine. We get to see Joel go through a mix of challenges, and it makes sense for him to stay alone – other than Boy – given the personal nature of his journey. The final act opens up matters, but this strongly remains Joel’s story, and it explores those matters pretty well.

Don’t expect a wall-to-wall monster battle flick, though. While sporadic fights emerge, the character focus remains paramount, and we get to see a surprisingly strong emotional element emerge, especially via the developments related to the Aimee and Joel relationship.

While not quite the “fun-filled” adventure promised, all of these factors lead Love to become an unusual twist on the “coming of age” narrative. It delivers a pretty good mix of science-fiction, action and character material.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio A-/ Bonus C-

Love and Monsters appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This Dolby Vision image seemed well-presented.

Sharpness excelled. Virtually no softness materialized, so the film offered nice clarity and accuracy. I saw no shimmering or jagged edges, and the movie lacked edge haloes or print flaws.

Like most modern action flicks, teal and amber dominated the image, though not in an oppressive, Michael Bay manner. Within these stylistics choices, the colors felt well-rendered, and occasional instances of other hues – like some purples for self-illuminated creatures – offered variety. The disc’s HDR gave the tones added zest and punch.

Blacks appeared dark and tight, and shadows showed nice clarity. HDR meant stronger impact for contrast and whites. Overall, I thought this became a highly satisfying image.

With the level of bombast expected from a movie with many scenes of mayhem, the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack used the various speakers well. Obviously, monster battles proved the most involving, as they engulfed the viewer with the sounds of the setting.

That side of things worked best, but other sequences also seemed good, as even quieter sections placed the viewer in the action and consistently satisfied. Surround usage was pleasing throughout the film, as the back speakers bolstered the various settings well.

Audio quality was also good. Speech appeared natural, and the lines never demonstrated intelligibility problems.

Music was dynamic and lively, as the score showed excellent range and delineation. Effects were also bright and bold, with nice low-end to boot. Across the board, this was an excellent track that deserved a solid “A-”.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Audio remained identical, as both discs sported the same DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix.

Picture became a different matter, though, as the 4K UHD’s Dolby Vision presentation offered obvious improvements in terms of sharpness, colors, blacks and contrast. While the Blu-ray looked quite good, it couldn’t match up with the excellent 4K.

No extras appear on the 4K disc, but the included Blu-ray copy comes with a few features. Six Deleted Scenes fill a total of 11 minutes, 50 seconds.

Some of these offer additional exploration of supporting roles, but we find some new action beats as well. Along with an intriguing alternate ending, this turns into an above-average compilation of cut sequences.

Two featurettes follow, and Bottom of the Food Chain runs seven minutes, 43 seconds. It includes comments from director Michael Matthews, executive producer John Starke, lead dog trainer Zelie Bullen and actors Dylan O’Brien, Jessica Henwick, Michael Rooker, Dan Ewing and Ariana Greenblatt.

“Chain” examines story and characters as well as cast and performances. Other than some good notes about the canine actors, we get little substance here – and plenty of spoilers, so don’t watch the featurette before you view the movie.

It’s a Monster’s World spans seven minutes, four seconds and features Matthews, Starke, Henwick, supervising location manager Duncan Jones, director of photography Lachlan Milne, head of creature effects Stephen Boyle, and production designer Dan Hennah.

“World” examines sets and locations as well as other technical production elements. This becomes a short but decent overview of the various topics.

Though sold as a big action flick, Love and Monsters instead relies more on its instincts as a sweet character fable. It does well in that regard and throws in enough creature-related mayhem to become an enjoyable journey. The 4K UHD boasts excellent picture and audio along with a small collection of bonus materials. Expect a well-done tale here.

To rate this film visit the original review of LOVE AND MONSTERS

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