A Monster Calls
review by Bobby Blakey
In the world of sequels and remakes it is always refreshing to see something come along that is original. The trailer for A Monster Calls looked to be one of those films featuring a great cast including Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebell, and Liam Neeson bringing his familiar voice to the monster, but does it live up to the hype of its promos or will it be all bark and no substance?
A Monster Calls follows a boy who feels very damaged, guilty and mostly angry. He struggles at school with bullies, and pity looks from everyone, and at home with his mother's sickness. The monster does not come walking often, but his time it comes to Connor, and it asks for the one thing Connor cannot bring himself to do. Tell the truth. Going into this film I had an idea of where the film was going to be going and while I wasn’t completely wrong there is so much more here than I expected. While this is a fairy tale story it does not take the familiar light hearted approach, but instead is filled with pain, struggle and redemption that is pretty deep. Everyone here gives a great performance with Felicity Jones the most pained to watch as she tries to remain the strength for her son while dealing with a horrible sickness. She offers up all the emotions needed for this role to work and is great in every way. Weaver steps in as the grumpy, but often well intended grandmother and does a great job as expected.
This entire movies success hinges on two main things and one of those is the performance of young Lewis MacDougall who knocks it out of the park. Throughout the film he is forced to shift his emotions from anger to despair to fear and does so flawlessly. You feel every emotion he brings to the screen and in turn feel the despair that this young boy is going through during this time in his life. This leads into the other most important part of the film and that is the monster. While it appears to be just a different version of Groot rest assured this is an original creature that stands out on its own. Not once while watching the interactions between the boy and creature ever think of anything other than what was happening on screen. Their relationship is so much bigger and important than you might think going in without trying to force anything over the top down your throat. The visuals are amazing and powerful bringing destruction across the board that helps you feel the pain of all involved. While this creature visually works all, its own it is Neeson’s familiar booming voice that gives it brilliant life and you will beg to see more of him on screen right until the end.
Director J.A. Bayona has crafted a flawless fantasy film that is so much more than you will expect. The emotions and visual stimulations together make for the perfect film tied together by equally excellent performances. I loved every moment of this film and is one that will no doubt have you talking when you leave the theaters as well as want to hug someone you loved or think about someone you’ve lost.