• Guy Jeffries

A Monster Calls Review


Director: J.A. Bayona.

Starring: Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell.

I actually got to see this at a Screen Unseen last month but had put off writing the review until the right time of year, or should I say, the right year. And wow what a year of movies 2016 glad us. So this is going to be the first official review of 2017, ahead of Assassin's Creed and Silence.

Director of The Impossible, J.A. Bayona, gives us a fantastical fairytale of boy meets monster, where imaginations run wild with the boy tries to cope with tragic realities.

Conor, played superbly well by Lewis MacDougall, fitting the awkward, introverted schoolboy, is troubled, from a broken family, he lives with his dying mother, played by Felicity Jones and whilst what faces him is inevitable, he decides to battle against it, even against himself in a way.

His imagination and destress appears to summon a mythical monster that resides upon the hill, in the graveyard outside his home. Essentially he's an Ent, or more like a Groot with a vocabulary, with the wondrous voice of Liam Neeson who would make an excellent voice for a Decepticon Transformer.

The imagery is amazing and the animated parts very enticing, reminding me very much of Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows. But, it feels like it's cut short, skipping a pivotal part, rushed over, almost feeling cheated, I wanted and expected to see more, even though it does seem long for 108min running time.

There was a moment where this film reminded me a lot of The NeverEnding Story, thinking it was going to head that way but no, it's a different film entirely and it's only Conor's escapism that bares resemblance to the classic '84 film.

It's undeniably beautiful and has such a touching story, but there's a chance younger viewers might not understand, however, it's not strictly a children's film with a 12A rating.

There's a good score from Fernando Velázquez but nothing totally rememberable. The performances are strong, Sigourney Weaver is great as the opposing grandmother, but I don't think Toby Kebbell's father role was explored enough and there's a couple of weak spots that might disappoint.

Overall it's a charming and yet rather dark fantasy that tells a story of a boy struggling with life whose imagination comes frees him from those shackles of guilt and fear.

Running Time: 6

The Cast: 9

Performance: 9

Direction: 7

Story: 7

Script: 6

Creativity: 8

Soundtrack: 7

Job Description: 6

The Extra Bonus Point: Only a 5 for the enchanting animation bits, would have been a 10 but I wanted more of it.

70% 7/10

#JABayona #LewisMacDougall #FelicityJones #SigourneyWeaver #LiamNeeson #TobyKebbell #FernandoVelázquez