Claudio Says A MONSTER CALLS Is A Depressing Piece Of Work

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FILM REVIEW: A MONSTER CALLS

BY CLAUDIO ZELAYA

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Happy new year, everyone! We’re starting 2017 off strong with a …depressing piece of work by J.A. Bayona. “A Monster Calls” goes wide this weekend as the race to the Oscars is in its last leg. It stars Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Lewis MacDougall as Conor, and Liam Neeson as Groot…alright, he’s just the monster, but I can imagine how interesting the meetings about the tree went after “Guardians of the Galaxy” came out.

This may be the shortest review I’ll write in a while because the story of this movie is really straight forward. There’s no real “A to B” structure. It’s more of a study of this kid and his handling of his mother, Felicity Jones, dying from cancer. The monster comes to life and visits Conor to tell him three stories and after the last story, Conor must tell the monster his story. I didn’t expect any animation in this movie, but it’s the main vehicle of the monster’s tales. The visuals are absolutely amazing. I left the theater wondering if this film would’ve been better had it been all animation. It felt odd going back to the live action format because of how captivated the animation had me. However, the stories themselves are a little hard to understand in the context of the overall plot.  It has a rough time catching your attention during the first act, but it definitely picks up steam when the monster rolls around, which are the best parts. However, that reason alone may leave this movie as a “pretty good” one rather than a “great” one.

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As far as kid actors go, Lewis MacDougall is definitely top tier. His role is heavy with emotion and could’ve easily come out corny. Conor is made out to be as relatable as possible by having him be the typical quiet kid in class that no one notices, except for his bully. There’s nowhere for him to fit in and at the worst time of his life. He plays off Felicity Jones well enough for me to feel the relationship as mother and son. I found myself enthralled in the movie more when they both shared the screen. Sigourney Weaver plays his grandmother well, but is really just there to serve his story rather than add to it. This film continues the recent trend I’ve noticed with it also having a more “a day in the life” kind of structure rather than a traditional one.

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This is a heavy and depressing story because of its connection to death. The allegory its presenting with the monster’s relationship with Conor is realized by the end of the film and I enjoyed the thought put into a simple story like this one. It’s definitely going for a therapeutic vibe, but I don’t think many people would watch this movie more than once. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie for what it is, but it’s so dour and sloppily introduces the monster. The best parts are definitely when the monster shares the screen.  I say check it out because it’s still a good movie with a relatable story. It’s not like there’s much good content released in January so we all might as well play catch up!

 

FINAL WORD:  StarStarStarEmpty StarEmpty Star