The monster does not come walking often. This time it comes to Conor, and it asks for the one thing Conor cannot bring himself to do. Tell the truth. This is a very touching story about 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. Will Conor overcome his problems? Will everything be okay? Will Conor be able to speak the truth?
The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2013 Blacklist; a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year. See more »
When Conor and his dad have a conversation in the car, Conor's seat belt is on at first, disappears, and reappears a few times between shots. See more »
[having a nightmare]
How does the story begin?
It begins like so many stories. With a boy, too old to be a kid. Too young to be a man. And a nightmare.
See more »
Robbie K back again with another review. This time, as you can read from the site, we cover A Monster Calls, another novel based movie that may have flown under the radar for most of you viewers. Many reviews are calling it an unforgettable adventure and a new masterpiece for the ages, but the question always remains if the advertisements are true. So, let's dig up these roots and uncover the mystery of the tree monster as we review the latest film.
LIKES: The Acting The Emotional Story The Beautiful Artwork
A Monster Calls has many good elements about it, but the first like is the acting of both CGI and realistic characters. Lewis McDougall leads the way as Conor, and plays the isolated child with the weight of the world on his shoulder fantastically, especially in regards to the way he looks lost in his mind. Felicity Jones impresses me as well as the caring mother going through some very trying times. I can't tell how much is the look and how much is her ability portray suffering, but the woman's abilities continue to impress me. And Liam Neeson as the monster is a welcome addition, as his rugged voice is a perfect match for the design of the creature that somehow is filled with so much wisdom (hello flora version of Asland).
Solid acting is a good start, but the story was even more captivating to me. A Monster Calls' plot is an emotional forest, filled to the brim with tear jerking sequences that will leave many faces wet. For me, it was because many of these problems are relatable, and were presented in that theatrical manner (e.g. using a powerful music score) that hits you from all fronts. And as the tale progresses, the suspense only continues to build and bring you into the story. But this isn't just necessarily a movie centered on entertaining you with drama, but once more tries to teach you lessons as the relationship between boy and monster begins to form. The tales that the Monster brings out are prime lessons in the error of perception, the folly of judgement, and the importance of empathy. These lessons aren't just randomly thrown in, but go along with the main story and help build to the conclusion.
But my favorite aspect, as well as many reviewers', is the artwork of the movie. The real- life scenes contain beautiful settings, alongside the efficient use of filters to help add some subtle emotion to the scenes. Yeah, I know nothing special, right? Heck even the monster, despite how well animated and designed he is doesn't hit the super unique animation. However, what is impressive is the art styles used to portray the monster's lessons. Two of the tales use different animations styles to visualize the moral lessons, using brilliant colors, broad strokes, and warped figures to add a haunted twist to the normal fairy tales. The well-timed breaks from the mundane real life visuals helps add that whimsical side to the story and help reenergize the audience in this otherwise exhausting movie.
DISLIKES: Incredibly Sad Movie Predictable Ending You don't want to see coming Would have Liked the Third Story to Have the animation It is hard to find fault in this movie, because the movie is edited so well and feels like a visualization of a well-developed book. However, one big thing is the depressing cloud that looms over the entire movie. We all know movies that depress us, but most have those ray of hope moments that break the clouds of dismay. Not the case in this film. Despite some of the more colorful experiences shown in the trailers, A Monster Calls is not the fun loving, animated adventure you might think it is. It's a very sad film, and there are few moments to help distract you from what is to come. Yes, there is a massively predictable ending and one you wish wasn't the case. I can't say much more, but the ending (while adding suspense and tying things together) is something that teases at the back of your mind and further plays hacky sack with your emotions.
A final, albeit minor dislike, is that I would have liked a third art style for the final story. While the third tale is very well done, it does not have the same art theme the others do. I would have loved for them to finish with that same creativity, in a manner that mirrors the theme of the lesson. Again, in the grand scheme it doesn't matter, but that third style would have been a welcome addition to an already beautiful movie.
A Monster Calls is the first film to make me tear up in my years of doing reviews. It's stunning example of the visual prowess of art, that is well crafted to tell a story that will pull at many heart strings. However, be warned that this movie is not your typical animated monster meets boy adventure tale, but one that is meant to teach us some rather important, albeit darker, lessons about life. Is it worth a trip to the theater? I think so because of the visual styles and the roller coaster ride of feelings this movie will generate. If you can't find the time though then hit this one on Redbox when you can.
My scores are:
Drama/Fantasy: 9.0 Movie Overall: 8.0
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