Writer: Naseem RandhawaWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Pan's Labyrinth", "The Chronicles of Narnia", "Coraline" The Good, the Bad and the Monster In Us All:
Don't go in watching "A Monster Calls" expecting to experience the thrills of seeing a big blockbuster monster movie. Instead, what you'll get with this film is an emotionally dark yet wonderfully dramatic film that will leave you thinking about if way after you're done watching.
Young newcomer Lewis MacDougall is Conor, a quiet boy whose mother (Felicity Jones from "Rogue One") is severely ill. It is through his eyes that we see the film as he makes through his miserable life where he gets bullied in school, has to live with his authoritarian grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) and deals with having an estranged dad (Toby Kebbell). As if things can't get any worse for him, suddenly poor Conor finds that a gigantic yew tree monster often pops by to visit him, not without somewhat leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
Just like the book by Patrick Ness, the monster, when it calls, is ever so dramatic. It is an imposing figure that is captured brilliantly for the screen and is voiced flawlessly by Liam Neeson's sonorous baritone. Just as how Neeson voiced the magnificent yet wise lion Aslan in "The Chronicles of Narnia", here as the yew tree, he serves as the only thing Conor listens to as it tells the sad boy mysterious stories - all metaphorically embellished with kings, witches and more - in order for Conor to make sense of the bleak world that he is in.
Readers of the book who loved the story that was written in a simple yet straightforward manner (in order to appeal to both adults and kids) would be thoroughly satisfied with the film which is way more melancholy - thanks to the bleakness of the depicted scenery and the emotions emanating from the characters - and would find themselves often blinking out the moisture in their eyes from this deeply affecting adaptation.
Many could compare this film to the much kid-friendly "The BFG", but just think of "The Monster Calls" as the BFG's dark twin brother.
Don't be worried though if you're not a fan of films that are just bleak through and through, as the storytelling time by the yew tree is richly animated and is bursting with wondrous watercolour splashes which along with everything else, gives the film a nice balance of both the dark and light side of its visual palate.
Director JA Bayona who is a master for delivering great performances from children, as seen in "The Orphanage" and from Tom Holland (the new Spider-Man) from his tsunami disaster film, "The Impossible", does great work with young MacDougall who goes between portraying his pain and anger so unsettlingly at the flip of a switch.
Audiences who love dark storybook like fantasies or stories that deal with learning to come in terms with the darkness of life, would fall in love with this gem of a lusciously dramatic yet poignantly beautiful film that will affect anyone with a beating heart.Cinema Online, 05 January 2017