But that's what makes this grim children's story work. It's a work of lovely darkness. The detailed visual effects and character development help "A Monster Calls" carry this coming age story out of the crowded water. At times sluggish and redundant, A Monster Calls nevertheless stays true to the child's evolving perspective. The animation in the three stories this monster tells is as gorgeous as Kubo and the Two Strings-forests and villages unfold like paper blossoms, or spiral out into the multi-colored fractals of wet-on-wet watercolors.
Perhaps this well-meaning film's biggest problem is that its disparate elements don't gel properly. It may not be directed by Steven Spielberg, but it certainly has his magic. No wonder Bayona is set to direct Jurassic World 2. An artistically gifted but bullied school boy has to deal with his mother's approaching cancer death and is visited by a tree monster a night. What sounds like a fantasy adventure is actually a pretty serious drama about children being confronted with loss.
Especially the short stories the monster tells are beautifully animated and the protagonist is a highly talented young actor. One has to wonder who the audience for this is, though. Children will find it too dark and uneventful, adults may be put off by a CGI tree creature. Especially the ending is very touching, though. Even though it boasts a great cast, stunning visual effects and a promising premise, A Monster Calls is too dark and a missing opportunity. Full review on filmotrope. So here we have yet another adaptation of a children's book that you could be mistaken for thinking was a light-hearted fantasy romp Certainly the movies poster looks very fairytale-esque and the plot sounds very quaint and whimsical, but prepare for a shock.
Not a horrible shock, just a slightly glum, depressing and slow burning shock. Obviously there is a lot of emotion in this young boys life with his father now living in the US with another woman and his mother slowly dying. On top of all that his future looks glum as he will soon be living with his grandmother whom he does not get on with, oh and he gets bullied at school Jesus!
Well one night, around The monster approaches and confronts a very afraid Conor telling him that at the same time, over a period of time, he will tell him three true stories from the past. Once these stories have been told Conor must then tell the creature a true story of his own. Now of course its not hard to realise that these three stories will in fact reflect the boys life in parts, they will be windows into his emotions.
Of course the real question the movie makes you ask is whether or not this tree monster is in fact a real creature or merely the boys wild imagination. The King soon dies and his people suspect the Queen of killing him in order to gain power. The Queen actually rules well but plots to marry off the Kings only Prince so she can retain power. The Prince runs away with a farm girl until such time that he can return and be crowned King.
One morning the Prince awakens to find the young farm girl murdered, naturally the Prince assumes the Queen killed her so he rallies the people against her. Just before the mob can reach the Queen the tree creature whisks her away to safety. The Queen did not kill the King or the farm girl, nor was she a specifically bad witch. Twas the Prince who killed the farm girl in order to try and overthrow the young Queen and gain power. This story relates to Conor's grandmother Sigourney Weaver in the sense that while she is strict and kinda unlikable, she has never actually done anything wrong in regards to Conor.
She has actually looked after him very well and Conor is failing to understand her situation under the current circumstances. Much like the Queen who didn't actually do anything wrong, people believed she was evil and thought she would commit evil, but she did not. In order to make up more medicines the apothecary pesters the local parson to cut down a Yew tree within the church yard.
The parson refuses this request point blank and becomes fed up with the apothecary. The parson does not agree with the apothecaries traditional ways and slowly manages to turn his congregation against the old medicine man. Some time later the Parsons two children becomes very ill and nothing can help, so he turns to the apothecary.
Of course the apothecary asks why he should help him after he took away all his custom and refused the Yew tree for which to make cures. The parson agrees to cut down the tree and bring his congregation back, the apothecary declines and the parson's children die. The tree creature appears and destroys the parson's house as punishment. The reason being the the apothecary stuck to his beliefs and could have saved lives, the parson changed his beliefs to suit himself, convenience.
This story may relate to Conor's estranged father in regards to him choosing an easy path, much like the pastor. Conor's father has basically left his mother and is enjoying life in America whilst they carry on the daily grind in the UK. He obviously comes back when Conor's mother is ill but it doesn't seem genuine, more of a reluctant duty, changing his position to suit himself. But he obviously cares enough to come back, he cares enough for his son, so I'm unsure on this one.
I was also surprised that Conor didn't really receive any punishment for destroying his grandmothers living room which he does in a trance like state when the creature describes destroying the parson's house. I was also surprised that this event didn't result in Conor getting some psychological assistance.
So the man summoned the tree creature to make him visible.
The tree creature helps the man but he soon discovers there are harder things in life than people not seeing or noticing you. Whilst this story is being told the tree creature possesses Conor and beats up the school bully.
Again I'm not so sure about this one, could it be the creature is the invisible man in the story? The creature realises that being invisible isn't as hard as it thought, only after it beats the bully too much? Does it represent Conor feeling unnoticed during his life?
Is it me or did there seem to be a homosexual vibe between the bully and Conor? Conor's mother is standing near a cliff when it starts to collapse in on itself. His mother falls but Conor reaches her in time, grabbing her by the hand. Conor must hang on to his mother to prevent her from falling to her death. After a short time Conor is seemingly unable to hold on anymore and his mother falls.
The tree creature puts a lot of pressure on Conor to speak the truth regarding the incident and eventually Conor admits he let his mother go on purpose. He can no longer stand the suffering of watching his mother slowly die in reality, he wants the emotional pain to finally end. All of the story sequences appear to have been animated in watercolours to me.
While all of the film is live action with the tree creature being CGI, these sequences do stand out beautifully with this fresh approach. They certainly give the film some much needed colour and excitement because truth be told there is little else going on. That's not to say the film is poor, its a slow moving drama set in the bleak countryside of Lancashire so the animated sequences are vital. Truth be told the stories are kinda odd and don't really make much sense in relation to the main protagonist.
They are suppose to represent the stages of Conor's early life and emotional state but I didn't see the connection at times. The second story I especially didn't really agree with. Sure I understand that the parson didn't stick by his beliefs and in the end it was his own fault that the apothecary didn't have any possible cures at the right time.
But Jesus man, talk about being harsh on this guy even after his kids die! At times the film is visually alluring, as said the story sequences, and of course whenever the tree creature pops up.
You have this blend of gritty reality in England mixed with moments that could have come from a twisted fairytale flick of Tim Burton. Essentially this is a character driven feature and its all about the performances. Well our main protagonist Lewis MacDougall certainly acts the shit outta this. While I did find his scowling somewhat annoying and his character did come across as a bit of an unhinged brat, this young actor is most certainly one to watch for the future.
I couldn't quite relate to him mainly because I didn't really like the character of Conor but that doesn't detract from his acting talent. Twelve-year-old Conor O'Malley must face his mother's terminal cancer, his strict grandmother, his estranged father and the school bully, Harry. One night at An old king who has lost his entire family with his sons killed in fierce battles and his wife committing suicide in her grief save a young grandson, remarries a beautiful young woman.
He dies before the prince comes of age, and many believe the queen poisoned the king. Not wanting to hand the kingdom over to the prince in a year, she plots to marry the prince and remain queen. The prince runs away with a farm girl he loves. They stop and sleep under a yew tree the Monster , but in the morning he finds the young woman murdered.
Retrieved 24 April On top of all that his future looks glum as he will soon be living with his grandmother whom he does not get on with, oh and he gets bullied at school Jesus! The Crones will be satisfied, which is good for Gran and the village of Downwarren, but not for the children. Lewis MacDougall as Conor. Retrieved 1 October A mother Felicity Jones with terminal cancer, bullies, absent father, dictatorial grandma Sigourney Weaver and now a threatening monster Liam Neeson to visit him at night; poor Conor does not have a lot going for him. But he obviously cares enough to come back, he cares enough for his son, so I'm unsure on this one.
The prince tells the villagers that the queen, a witch, must have done it, and they rally to overthrow her. Before the commoners can reach the queen, the Monster carries her away to a far-off land where she lives out the rest of her life in peace. Though she was indeed a witch, she did not kill the farm girl or the king, who actually died of old age. The prince had murdered the farm girl himself in order to inspire his people to back him into overthrowing the queen. After the queen was taken to safety by the Monster, the prince continued to rule the kingdom in the grandfather's place.
An apothecary follows old traditions and beliefs, using herbs and brews to cure ailments. His business becomes less popular as a local parson tells his congregation not to accept the apothecary's old ways and denying the apothecary use of an old Yew tree. When the parson's two daughters become sick, the parson asks the apothecary to save their lives after all other resources are exhausted.
When the apothecary asks why he should help a man who has turned people away from his skills and denied him the yew tree, his best source of healing ingredients, the parson promises to give him the tree and deliver the parishioners to him as customers. Yet the apothecary says that he cannot help, and the girls die.
The Monster awakens from the yew tree to destroy the parson's house and raze it to the ground as punishment. While the apothecary was a greedy man, he was a healer and would have saved lives, including the girls', if the parson had allowed him his way of life. The parson was a man of belief but was willing to discard his beliefs when they were in the way. The healing traditions followed by the apothecary require belief in order to work; without the parson's, the apothecary was unable to treat the two girls.
Belief is half the cure. A man was invisible because no one ever saw him. Tired of this, he summoned the Monster to ensure people would notice him. Though people now notice him, the man finds himself more alone than before. Conor must confront his nightmare to tell the fourth story.
His mother has been pulled to the edge of a cliff by a sudden collapse of the ground, and Conor must hold her hand to save her from falling. Eventually, his grip fails and his mother falls. The Monster forces Conor to confess the truth: Conor loosened his grip on purpose. While he could have held on longer, he let go in order to stop the pain of having to hold on. Through the Monster, Conor ultimately understands that although he does not want his mother to die, it is something he must accept, and he must not feel guilty for wanting it to be over so he does not have to feel pain anymore.
After this, Conor returns, with the Monster by his side, to comfort his mother one last time, and she dies at He returns home with his grandmother, with whom he has reached an understanding, and she gives Conor the room that used to be his mother's. In the room, he finds his mother's old art book, which depicts the stories that were told to him by the Monster, and a drawing of his mother as a child with the Monster.
Focus Features bought the rights to the book in March Bayona hired as director. Principal photography began on 30 September ,  in Spain and Britain. Liam Neeson, who voices the titular tree creature, was not on set throughout the shooting process, and completed his motion-capture performance during a two-week period beforehand, with MacDougall in the room.
Originally scheduled for an October release,   the film was delayed in order to avoid competition from Jack Reacher: Never Go Back , Boo! A Madea Halloween , Ouija: Origin of Evil , and Keeping Up with the Joneses. In North America, the film had its wide release alongside the opening of Underworld: The site's critical consensus reads, " A Monster Calls deftly balances dark themes and fantastical elements to deliver an engrossing and uncommonly moving entry in the crowded coming-of-age genre".
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. A Monster Calls Theatrical release poster. Spain  United Kingdom . British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved September 23, Toronto International Film Festival.
A Monster Calls is a dark fantasy drama film directed by J. A. Bayona and written by One night at a.m., Conor is visited by the tree-like Monster, who tells Conor it has come to tell him three true stories, after which Conor must tell. Directed by J.A. Bayona. With Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell. A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single.