A Monster Calls (2016)

3:24 PM

Stories are Wild Creatures.
 A Monster Calls is directed by J.A. Bayona (The Impossible, The Orphanage) and stars Lewis MacDougall (Pan), Sigourney Weaver (Alien, Avatar), Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Theory of Everything) and Liam Neeson (Taken, Batman Begins). "A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mom's terminal illness". Based on a best selling book and from an acclaimed director with classic Hollywood stars - is A Monster Calls the perfect recipe for a perfect film?

A Monster Calls is a really interesting one - it is certainly a well made film and I would go as far as saying it is a good film that I would recommend. However, I believe it has a much more niche appeal than I was expecting as the person I watched it with did not like it at all. A Monster Calls isn't a film for all the family and it isn't a fantasy adventure - it is a drama with some fantasy elements but at the film's heart, it is all about imagination and the fear of loss. I will admit, this is not the masterpiece that I was expecting but it is a film I am pleased I saw. I took away some messages from A Monster Calls - some that are clear and some that are more possible. This is a good film for anyone going through a tough time as you should be able to relate it to your situation and it will give you a much more positive outlook. 

Something I didn't think I would have problems with is the performances - that is probably where most of my issued lied. Lewis MacDougall was good as Conor and he was mostly very impressive - however, towards the end of the film where his acting ability is tested and stretched, his weaknesses do show and there were some really cringe-worthy moments on his part. I also though MacDougall didn't convincely interact with the CGI monster - when he is first picked up, I really didn't believe that Conor was being picked up at all. I also had problems with Liam Neeson's performance as The Monster - I don't think this was necessarily down to Neeson but more so the script as some of these lines were pretty cheesy. I also think some of the sound editing didn't really work which interrupted the flow of interactions. MacDougall and Neeson are in two different films - MacDougall is expectedly in a fantasy adventure whilst Neeson is in a slow drama - I actually think if the two swapped, it would have worked more but I don't think their chemistry was great. However, Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones did not disappoint who were both fantastic. Jones definitely impressed and that was important for the emotion that was created later - even though they don't get too many scenes together, the mother/son relationship between Jones and MacDougall is very believable. 

A Monster Calls is a pretty beautiful film - from the cinematography to the CGI. The Monster is very well realised and does have a strange resemblance to Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy. The only moment I did not like was when The Monster randomly appeared next to Conor in a shot - it was just a little too erratic.

The story for A Monster Calls is very complex and very intelligent - I actually look up to this film as it incorporates many mediums of film into one - CGI, typical drama and animation. A Monster Calls certainly stands out from the crowd and you won't see a film that really utilises art. The moments where the monster is telling Conor the stories are done through animation and this is very well animated and Neeson does well narrating these tales. These stories are also very useful to Conor and actually foreshadow his future actions - they aren't just random tales that are being told for the sake of it. At its most simplest form, this story is about a mother and son dealing with the likely future of losing each other - this is of course an extremely emotional subject and I have to tell you, bring your tissues because I'm not one to cry in films but this had me crying more than any film has made me in a long time.

So what did I take from A Monster Calls? Quite a lot actually. One of my biggest nightmares in life is actually the same as Conor's - thankfully, my mum is currently healthy and well but the thought of losing her one day really breaks me. It was strange to see your literal nightmare be portrayed in a film - it was intense to watch. Some of the lines are also actually quite moving and inspirational - an example is along the lines of 'you would rather die than face and fix your problems?' and honestly, these dark thoughts have gone through my head due to big life changes in the recent past. Even though my situation is nothing like what Conor is going through, it was all too easy to relate the topics and themes to my situations and it really hit me hard.

A Monster Calls is a beautiful, touching and heart-warming (but also breaking) film. I do believe some of Neeson's lines lessen his performance and I think MacDougall's inexperience does show at times when his acting ability is challenged. Jones and Weaver are brilliant though and generally, this is a well acted film. The story is very emotional and very clever - I would actually liken it to Kubo and the Two Strings - another sophisticated and intelligent film that would easily be seen as a family film at surface level. The visuals are brilliant and the messages are incredibly touching and powerful. This is a special film that isn't perfect but it certainly is powerful and hard hitting.


We also want to take the time to wish our readers a Happy New Year and best wishes for 2017. It is also a special day for A Selenator's View - this is the blog's second anniversary - two whole years and still going strong. Thank you for sticking with us and here's to another year of movie going (and Selena Gomez loving). 

What did you think of A MONSTER CALLS? How does it compare to the book? - COMMENT BELOW

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