Skip to main content

Movie Review: J.A. Bayona's "A Monster Calls" is A Spellbinding Masterpeice

Starring Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Tobey Kebbell
and Liam Neeson as the Monster
Based on the book by Patrick Ness from an Original Idea by Siobahn Dowd
Screenplay by Patrick Ness
Directed by J.A. Bayona

Reviewed by Paul & Patrick Gibbs

Out of Four

For starters, we have to emphatically state that, despite the increasingly low quality of his recent action films, any movie that includes the credit "and Liam Neeson as the Monster" is automatically a classic. But for director J.A. Bayona's extraordinary new offering A Monster Calls, that's just the tip of the iceberg. The director of The Impossible and the scheduled follow up to Jurassic World has fashioned a masterpiece that is both heartbreaking and uplifting.

Conor O'Malley (Lewis MacDougall) is a 13 year-old boy who has a bully problem. At school, he is the target of a gruff older boy who taunts him and occasionally roughs him up, a  home he is facing two seeming bullies: one is in the formidable form of his stern grandmother (Sigourney Weaver), who is there so frequently because of the biggest bully of all - terminal cancer - which has it in for Conor's mother (Felicity Jones.). The last and strangest bully is a tree outside the house by day, but by night, it figures into his frequent nightmares, and eventually becomes a giant monster. The monster is the one bully Conor seems to know how to stand up to, and it turns out that he may be there to help the boy. The Monster informs Conor that will share three stories, and that Conor will then tell him one.

This is a deeply emotional movie, troubling at times, and profoundly sad. But it's also
completely sincere, and hopeful in every way it possibly can be, and that's what makes it a drama rather than a weepy. The cast is terrific, starting with young MacDougall, who gives a performance filled with a surprising amount of nuance for an actor his age. And while this may be Felicity Jones' smallest movie of the holiday season, it's also the one that proves her to be more than just the it girl of the moment, and she should be considered for major award nominations  Sigourney Weaver's accent is not very convincing, but she brings so much gravitas to the role that it's hard to fault it. There's something about seeing Ellen Ripley as the stern Grandma and the helpless mother watching her child die, in a movie where the greatest comfort comes from a monster, that really plays. And Neeson is nothing short of glorious as the enigmatic monster (both in his voice and motion capture performance), lending the film a raw power that no one else could provide.

If skill is what makes a good director, then the choices made with the material are what a great one, and Bayona proves himself on every level.  The film utilizes live actin, C.G.I., Motion Capture and other forms of animation, and most directors would have given in to the temptation to get far more self indulgent with these stylistic opportunities, but Bayona never loses sight of the fact that at its core, this is a human drama. All of the various elements serve the story, never the other way around. 

A Monster Calls is a great film well worth your time, but be prepared to cry. We can only wonder whether the next installment in one of our most treasured franchises will allow Bayona to use his strong gift for emotion and three dimensional characters. Considering his seeming inability to tell a story without depth, his Jurassic outing is a mouth watering prospect (especially if you are a carnivore.).

The Bearded Trio - The Site For Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, John Williams and a whole lot more.




Popular posts from this blog

Did Paul Freeman Accidentally Eat A Fly In Raiders of the Lost Ark?

The Famous Indiana Jones Fly In Belloq's Mouth Scene.  Did It Really Happen? I've always wondered if Paul Freeman unintentionally consumed a fly in this scene in  Raiders of the Lost Ark ?  It's the scene where Indiana Jones shouts down to Bellosh...I mean Belloq and threatens to blow up the ark.  Did a fly go in his mouth? I remember watching this scene back in the early eighties and my ten year old mind thought he definitely had a snack while filming.  I recall talking about 'flygate' in my school playground at the time and the general consensus with my friends was that Freeman definitely had a sneaky snack. Paul Freeman talks about the famous 'fly' scene in an interview with  and settled 'flygate:' This is a bit of a dicey question so don’t get too upset. (Laughs) A movie’s always got bloopers in it, some have a lot, and some only have three or four. And the most remarkable blooper was right before the opening of th

Star Wars VII Movie Poster - Every End Is A New Beginning

Star Wars VII Movie Poster Just saw this Star Wars VII movie poster on Kyle Newman's Facebook fee d.  The poster is by  Lyndon Berresford and Paul Bateman.  I am loving this.  Who do you think the two characters are?  Lando and Leia?  Han and Leia's children? Have you seen other Star Wars VII movie posters?  Let me know. Rob Wainfur @welshslider

Pinewood Studios To Expand To The Usa

BBC News have reported that Pinewood Studios are to expand to the USA.  This is great news for the famous studio that is rich in movie history. UK film studio Pinewood Shepperton has announced plans to build its first sound stages in the United States. The Pinewood Atlanta complex will be built on 288 acres of land south of Atlanta, Georgia, as a joint venture with a US investment company. Georgia has been among the US states drawing film-making away from Hollywood with tax incentives in recent years. The deal is the latest sign of expansion at Pinewood, the home of the James Bond franchise. Earlier this month it announced a joint venture with a Chinese media group, potentially giving it access to the fast-growing Chinese market. Read the full article here. THE BEARDED TRIO ON FACEBOOK THE BEARDED TRIO ON TWITTER THE BEARDED TRIO ON GOOGLE+