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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As a fan of J.A. Bayona's previous work "The Impossible", I had fairly
high expectations for this and to say that I am astonished would be an
understatement. "A Monster Calls" is based on the book that Patrick
Ness published in 2011. After this breathtaking adventure I assure you,
You will be inclined to read the book. As this is an adventure that
builds on your emotions and thrives on your imagination. Conner is a
young man that is trying to cope with the fact that his mother who is
diagnosed with a terminal illness isn't long for this world. But as his
mind races with fears and his imagination takes hold, he creates a
creature that would give adults nightmares, But as he realizes the
creature is friendly, He grows close to the "monster".
This is one of those movies that must be seen in theaters, mainly because it's two hours of escape from reality, where you can turn the page back, to a time where your imagination used to run wild. A time when, your biggest responsibilities were picking up your socks. In other words, a time when you were really free.
Been quite long since the last time I wrote something about anything,
but I guess this one deserves a bit more words than others.
Every once in a while you might watch something that absorbed you completely and got you thinking about it. Not because it's perfect but because it touched you personally.
A Monster Calls tells a story about a boy named Conor who has to cope with his mom's illness while going through his adolescence. Sounds like a typical coming-of-age story, but it's not. Bayona has created one of a kind, exquisite, complex and profound story for all ages while at the same time didn't forget to look gorgeous (I'd totally buy their watercolor artworks) and well-acted. The most impressive part of the movie for me wasn't the technicality but the emotion and imagination involved while creating this.
But at the end of the day, Bayona won me over simply by reminding us all that sometimes it's when you hold something closest to you that you're finally able to let it go.
A scary looking tree in the middle of a graveyard haunts the dreams of
a little boy, Conor, who already has enough troubles while awake. A
mother (Felicity Jones) with terminal cancer, bullies, absent father,
dictatorial grandma (Sigourney Weaver) and now a threatening monster
(Liam Neeson) to visit him at night; poor Conor does not have a lot
going for him. On the plus side, the monster has only three stories to
tell, yet when finished he insists that Conor tell a story of his own
that reveals the truths in his heart. The monster's stories touch upon
themes gnawing at Conor; the good and bad in every person, the
consequences of actions and an invisible man who becomes more invisible
by being seen. Still Conor refuses to acknowledge the truths. "You
don't know me," he shouts "these stories are not real!" The monster
then lays down the law, "I know everything about you, now speak the
truth or die!"
A Monster Calls includes some amazing visual effects, fantastic scenes and brilliant dialogue. The film explores in compelling and thrilling ways how fantasy combines with reality, how people deal with their fears (for better and worse) and the tremendous power of stories. The actors are convincing and captivating and Neeson's voice is mesmerizing. You'd rob a bank if his voice told you to. Animation is used to illustrate the monster's stories. A Monster Calls is based on a novel by Patrick Ness. Seen at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.
The worst thing about this movie is its title. The second worst thing
about this movie is its trailer. Both will either a) put people off
seeing it (it succeeded in that with my wife for example) or b) make
people conclude it is a 'nice holiday film to take the kids to', which
is also an horrendous mistake!
This is a crying shame because it is a riveting drama and a superb piece of film-making that may well catapult it already into my top 10 films of 2017. But it is not, I would suggest, a film that is remotely suitable for kids under 10 to see, dealing as it does with terminal illness, bullying and impending doom. For this is a dark (read pitch black) but hauntingly beautiful film.
Lewis MacDougall, in only his second film (after last year's "Peter Pan") plays Conor - a young but talented and sensitive artist growing up as a 12 year old in the North of England with his single mum (Felicity Jones). She is suffering from an aggressive form of cancer and is forever medically grasping for a new hope (D'ya see what I did there?). Young Conor believes fervently that each new treatment will be 'the one' but the building tension, the lack of sleep and his recurrent nightmares are destroying him mentally and physically. As if this wasn't enough, his distracted nature is leading to him being seriously bullied at school and there is the added stress of having to live in his grandmother's pristine and teen-unfriendly house when his mother is hospitalised.
Towering over the nearby graveyard on the hill is an ancient yew tree and Conor is visited after midnight by this "monster" (voiced by Liam Neeson). Is he dreaming, or is it real? The tree dispatches wisdom in the form of three 'tales', with the proviso that Conor tell the tree the fourth tale which "must be the truth".
A tale of grief, guilt and a search for closure, this is a harrowing but rewarding journey for the viewer.
The film is technically outstanding on so many levels:
- the art design is superb, with the gorgeous 'tale animations' being highly reminiscent of the beautiful ones in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1";
- the use of sound is brilliant, with sudden silence being used as a weapon with which to assault the senses in one key sequence; - the cinematography by Oscar Faura ("The Imitation Game") is faultless, capturing both the dreary reality in a Northern winter with the comparative warmth of the strange dream-like sequences;
- the music by Fernando Velázquez is used effectively and intelligently to reflect the sombre mood;
- the special effects team led by Pau Costa ("The Revenant", "The Impossible") shines not just with Neesen's monster, but with the incorporation of the root and branch effects into the 'normal' surroundings.
As the BFG illustrated, having a whole film carried by a young actor is a bit of an ask, but here Lewis MacDougall achieves just that like a seasoned pro. His performance is nothing short of staggering and - although a brave move by the Academy - it would be great to see him nominated for a BAFTA acting award for this.
Confirming her position in the acting top-flight is Felicity Jones, heart-wrenching in her role of the declining mum, and Sigourney Weaver is also excellent as the po-faced but grief-stricken grandmother. Liam Neeson probably didn't add much by getting dressed up in the mo-cap suit for the tree scenes, but his voice is just perfect as the wise old sage.
The only criticism of what is an absorbing and intelligent script is the introduction of Conor's Dad, played by Toby Kebbell (Dr Doom from "The Fantastic 4"), who is literally flown in from LA on a flying visit but whose role is a little superfluous to the plot.
This is exactly what "The BFG" should have been but wasn't. It draws on a number of potential influences including "Mary Poppins"/"Saving Mr Banks" and "ET". Wise, clever and a thing of beauty from beginning to end, this is a treat for movie-goers and a highly recommended watch. However, if you have lost someone to "the Big C" be aware that this film could be highly traumatic for you..... or highly cathartic: as I'm not a psychiatrist, I'm really not that sure! Also, if you are of the blubbing kind, take LOTS of tissues: the film features the best use of a digital clock since "Groundhog Day" and if you are not reduced to tears by that scene you are certifiably not human.
(For the graphical version of this review, please check out http://bob- the-movie-man.com).
When I first walk into theater, I was not expecting much of this. Yeah, the first moments were so cliché I thought this would just be a mediocre movie at best. But after the movie, everything changed, and this became one of the best movies I've seen in years The director use beautifully rendered CGI to deliver the emotions of a struggling young boy coping with reality. It was already a hard concept that few movie successfully delivered, and yet he make so many people I know broke down in tears. Moreover, he also make use of the visual to express the incredibly complicated yet meaningful plot of the movie, constantly changing between fantasy and reality, truth and lies, acceptance and the growing of a boy into adulthood. The main actor while only a young man has already show signs of greatness, you can only wonder if he had already gone through all of this. He also actually took the time to developed each character, making the audiences attach to each and everyone of them. Which is why the ending was even more dramatic and sad for many of us And the soundtrack, oh man, the soundtrack just hit me where it really feels, this is probably the best part of this movie. Whether it's total silence for contemplation of characters or full- on orchestral work for the climax or the sad violin, man, they totally nailed it.
The trailer for this movie was perfect, a real tearjerker focusing on
exactly what the synopsis says: a little boy coming to terms with his
mother's terminal illness with the help of his imagination. As someone
who just lost his mother to cancer I was sobbing while watching the
trailer and put this movie on my "must-see" -list. Unfortunately, the
movie left me a bit cold.
First the good parts. The relationship between the boy (Connor) and the monster works very well and the animations that go along with the monster's stories are absolutely gorgeous. I'm usually quite sceptical about combining different visual elements because it rarely works but here the tone and amount is just perfect. Another aspect of the film that works is the chemistry between the dying mother and her son. Oddly enough, this is the movie's biggest flaw since the mother has such a small part in the storyline.
The first half of the movie strikes as unfocused, as if the director didn't know what he wanted to say. Quite often movies based on novels suffer from lack of focus because the director was unable to cut away portions from the source material. That is also the case with A Monster Calls. The heart of the story, the mother, is pushed aside in the very first minutes and we are introduced to a number of characters that add nothing to the story. More screen time is given to school bullies than to the mother which seems very odd. Apparently the director couldn't help himself and just had to dwell in bullying. A pattern which seems to be a norm in children's movies. Then we are introduced to the father, a character completely irrelevant to the story. His only purpose is to show that Connor comes from a broken family. I haven't read the novel the film is based on, so I can not say what his purpose was supposed to be. Perhaps his role was to showcase how important the mother was for the boy, since she's the only parent he's got. None of that comes through in the film, though. The father walks in and out, amounting to nothing.
Then there's the grandmother who is introduced as an uptight caricature with too many minutes wasted on stressing her strictness. This is a real shame since the character also provides the most heartfelt moments in scenes establishing the shared grief she and Connor both feel. Something really amazing could've been accomplished with this pairing without the needless "evil grandmother" tropes. A real missed opportunity, I feel.
Once the film has established just how hard a life Connor has, the focus goes back to where it should have always been: the mother and Connor's acceptance of her state of health. This is clearly the strong point of the story and the ending is executed beautifully. The emotional impact of the last half an hour or so also reminds the viewers of how impactful the entire film could've been had the father been reduced to a side mention and the minutes dedicated for school bullies cut in half in order to raise the profile of the mother. By doing so, A Monster Calls could've accomplished something groundbreaking by talking about cancer to children, many of whom will unfortunately be affected by it. This message, however, gets lost with the director juggling with too many elements.
Based on the novel of the same name by Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls is
one of the most emotionally powerful films I've seen in a long time.
Directed by J. A. Bayona, this is a film you'll want to be making sure
you have a pack of tissues ready for.
Conor O'Malley (Lewis MacDougall) lives at home with his terminally ill mother (Felicity Jones). Bullied relentlessly at school on a daily basis and with no friends, Lewis finds himself spending most of the free time he does have helping his mother.
One night, Conor encounters a monster (Liam Neeson) in the form of a giant yew tree. With the help of the monster, Conor learns a number of valuable life lessons, as well as facing the nightmarish reality he knows will come soon enough.
Reports of A Monster Calls causing audiences to flood theatres with tears during the festival circuit have been well documented however, even they couldn't prepare me for J. A. Bayona's stunningly beautiful film. The warning of emotional distress was even there for all to see as the classification certificate appeared on screen prior to the film.
This is an incredibly moving story, depressing for the most part however, thanks to the fantasy elements of the story and the relationship Lewis has with the monster, it can be strangely uplifting at times. The film packs one hell of an emotional punch towards the end but it doesn't just spring it on the audience because you can sense that is exactly where it's going from the very beginning.
The performances of Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver and Toby Kebbell are all good but there is no debating here that the film ultimately belongs to the young Lewis MacDougall, who manages to deliver a performance that would make you think he's been acting for years, when this is in fact only his second film. MacDougall really makes you empathise with Conor and his performance in the final stages of the film is sensational.
The visuals deserve a special mention as well, the monster in particular brought to life quite brilliantly through special effects and a gruff vocal performance from Liam Neeson. They go hand- in-hand with Bayona's visionary style as a director to make A Monster Calls a must-see film.
"There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most
people are somewhere in between."
Before seeing the movie, I didn't know much about "A Monster Calls". The only information I got from it is that it's based on Patrick Ness novel and the trailer had a "Iron Giant" vibe to it. I also liked the director (Juan Antonio Bayona) previous movies, so I guess that's what peaked my interest in seeing it. And I came out pretty surprised of how good it was. Not just that, but how moving and heartfelt it was.
Juan Antonio Bayona is the type of director that knows how to tell a compelling story in his films. To screw lose the sentiment, until your eyes are filled with water to the point where you can't help but spill out. And in this movie he dose exactly that and how smart he was with it's decisions of the emotional scenes.
There's a lot of great actors in this and none of them are put to waste. Liam Nesson was excellent as The Monster. Sigourney Weaver was great as the Grandma. Felicity Jones and Toby Kebbell were also great as Connor parents. But I think the real stand is Lewis MacDougall as (Connor). Even at the age of 14 this kid literally carries this movie and really dose reflect Connor's inner conflict.
That's what I notice in Bayona movies. All of the kid actors in his movies are pretty solid and I would go as far to say that they better than the adults. This is very rare for me to say that, because most kid actors suck. Yes there are good ones out there, but only some, as most of them don't fully bring their all.
The visual effect's were pretty stunning and impressive of how it interacted with the real environment that it was in. In all honesty, I was pretty surprised. And what I mean by "surprise" is that I was expecting The Monster itself to be the only effect in the movie. Because The Monster tells three stories to Conner and all three are done in a visual dye artwork that's beautiful to look at. It's good to be surprise.
For problems I had with the movie are slim, but if I had to pick, I would probably say that films message can be a little repetitive and oblivious towards the end. I think that may bug some people. But still, it's a great message that's speaks the truth and actually sticks to it. I mean, if the message was terrible or nothing special, then this might be a big complaint. The film doesn't have an happy ending and neither a sad one. There's no Hollywood ending or anything like that. It would say it's mixed.
Overall rating: "A Monster Calls" is entertaining, sad, and unforgettable tale that sticks with you after it's over. The film tells the truth and nothing but the truth of life. You want everything to be alright for this kid, but you're left with a feeling of stillness. Like you can't do anything about it, even with all the magical things that's happening. It just gotta let it happen....
As someone who had read the book and really liked it, I found the movie as compelling and it excels at additions that are not in the novel such as the last scene which happened after the ending of the book. However, they also removed some good parts from the book, but were offset by visuals and score and the spot on performances of the characters especially Lewis MacDougall (Conor) who nailed his role in the movie. He sure knows how to cry. And that needs pointing out as a lot of kids in movies are sometimes annoying and difficult to watch. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) and Sigourney Weaver (Aliens) who were both Academy Award Best Actress nominees were as good as anyone would expect them to be. And Liam Neeson's voice was the perfect choice for the monster's. Haunting, cold, deep, and soothing. Also, the other thing I found striking was how the book played out as a movie. Aside from a few differences (the adds and minuses), almost everything else is as what the book is. Impactful scenes as how they were narrated and readers imagine them to be and dialogue and life lessons as how they were said in the book were same as in the movie. If you have read and liked the book, then watch this. If you have not, watch it still, as long as you have a heart and know what you're getting into, chances are you'll like this gem of a movie.
This movie was a drama film about a boy who had to face so many life
challenges at a young age. As described by the Monster, Connor was too
old to be called a child but to young to be called a man. It was a
heartbreaking and touching movie with most of the scenes especially in
the end were very sad. But the moral & message of the story was
actually quite deep.
The monster in this movie was not a scary monster and it was not supposed to be a film where people are being hunted by the monster or vice versa. However the special effect & the sound effect of the monster was very good. Liam Neeson's voice also added the element of warmth, strength and power.
Meanwhile, the story itself was actually adapted from the novel by the same title written by Patrick Ness. The movie was supposed to play in US theaters this month but it was delayed till early 2017. So Indonesians are quite fortunate to have the opportunity to see this one before the US. Just take note that it is only playing in 21 Cineplex cinema chain.
For me personally, the most memorable part of the movie was the 1st of the 3 stories told by the Monster. I think the similar feeling that Connor had in the end, had greater impact on my wife. Anyway, for those who love to see touching heart breaking drama with some fantasy & good but brief special effects, then this movie would be suitable for you. However for those who are looking for fantasy action movie, then you would not like to watch this.
for my complete review, pls have a look at michaelnontonmulu.blogspot.co.id
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