A Monster Calls is a wonderful film lover’s movie. It’s packed with emotion and care.
Let me explain what I mean by this.
For a bit of context, I have watched 7 Superhero movies this year and 9 remakes of classics that became averages. I even went to the latest Resident Evil and King Arthur pre-screenings. Whilst this is all well and good, sometimes those movies can lack a bit of soul.
A Monster Calls however, is packed with themes, relevance, emotion, a great plot-line (helped by being based on a book). It also features a lovely combination of CGI and animation throughout.
I also had the perfect setting for this. I watched A Monster Calls at Backlot Studios in Melbourne. This is a very cool little place complete with a Candy Bar and some very comfy mini sofas. It’s pretty hidden away (as per all the good places in Melbourne), but if you get a chance to watch something there give it a go.
Here’s some background on A Monster Calls before I get started.
Liam Neeson is a talking, walking tree (what’s not to like already). Think Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy plus something from Fangorn forest in Lord of the Rings and you’ll have a good idea. The Monster is called upon unknowingly by a young English lad named Connor (Lewis MacDougall). Connor is fearful about the current circumstances around his Mum’s (Felicity Jones) health, which is deteriorating, as well as his relationship with his Grandma.
The Monster (talking tree), demands that he tells Connor three stories. He doesn’t really explain why, he just demands it, and in return he wants one “truth” from Connor back. The Monster wants his story.
Throughout the movie other complicated relationships are thrown into the mix. One with Connors Father (Toby Kebbel), his Grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) and a school bully (James Melville). To take a quote from Connor’s Dad, these relationships illustrate just how “messy” life can be, and is for “90% of us”.
Sigourney Weaver is as you would expect terrific in the role of Grandma. In a graceful way, she manages to take her talent and simply add to the other acting props on screen without her presence taking over. A wonderfully subtle, supporting performance that felt like she understood her role and executed it perfectly.
The first two of The Monster’s tales are beautifully depicted in animation.
The first tale is more traditional in it’s use of animation and the second tale presents itself differently with elements of CGI. There are some very high class visuals here.
I was disappointed with the third as there wasn’t actually much of a story in that one and it seemed to skip through making it feel disjointed from the first two. But you can’t have everything, and there was a scene featuring a bully being taken down which is always nice.
I’ll also add that one of our FanWriters had to sadly drop out of the showing, which meant my girlfriend joined me in her debut movie pre-screening. She spent half the movie in tears and I almost joined her. Almost.
A Monster Calls doesn’t just pull on the heart strings, it felt like the monster itself was gripping these heart strings and dragging them down.
There’s a particularly intense scene between Felicity Jones and Lewis MacDougall which re-enforces Felicity Jones’s acting chops, but introduces Lewis MacDougall’s. Keep an eye on that talent as it develops.
I suspect that A Monster Calls whilst having wonderful themes running throughout relevant to anyone in Connor’s situation, may be too dark for that young audience to enjoy. This may depend on the child watching though. Perhaps it will appeal more to an older audience whose life experience may be resonate with the film, and perhaps it may even help banish some demons they carry.
I still can’t work out whether the ending was an uplifting, joyous end to the movie, a bit of a sucker punch, or both… and actually, perhaps that’s the purpose of the movie – to showcase the finer lines between black and white with a mix of grey.
Thanks to: Apaches Entertainment, Monster Calls, A, Participant Media, Películas la Trini, River Road Entertainment for producing a thoroughly enjoyable film lovers movie.