A Monster Calls – A Personal Review

It’s the classic tale that everyone has heard. A boy, bullied at school, dealing with the emotional turmoil of his mom’s terminal illness has to turn to a giant, walking tree-monster for help. 

In reality it was actually a very touching story and very well told. This dark fantasy did center around a young boy dealing with bullies at school and a terminally ill mother. Beyond that he has to cope with a rather unsympathetic grandmother and possibly losing his mind as he is seeing a giant, walking tree-monster. On this journey we watch as his courage is tested and he learns how to speak the truth of what he really feels.

The visual aspects of this movie are stunning. The production team did an excellent job with all the scenery and the CGI. I can’t say I noticed anything visually disappointing in the movie. I will say, though, that it would be best viewed in a dark room as the overall tone of the movie is rather dark. But that could just be a preference thing.

The acting is amazing as well. The entire cast was believable in their roles and conveyed the character’s emotions in a way that sucks you into the movie and holds you there. There are moments when you can almost feel your chest tightening against the emotions displayed by the actors. And I think it goes without saying that if you’re going to have a 1000 year old, 50 foot tall, walking tree-monster no one is better suited to voice that roll than Liam Neeson.

The story line is based on a book by Patrick Ness of the same title. This is definitely a dark fantasy, and the emotional significance of the story can be heavy at times, but it is a touching story all the same. As Conner watches from the sidelines unable to help his mother or accept the inevitable outcome of her illness, we see the monster guide him through difficulties that help him grow as a young man. Until he finds it in himself to tell the truth of his fears and admit them to himself.

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This movie would be great for young children but I will warn you there are some intense scenes. A huge monster that sprouts forth from a tree and has glowing red eyes might be a little much for some children.  Not to mention the ground opening up, house being torn apart, general freak-outs on the part of young Conner and several other intense moments. In short: use caution and I always recommend parents watch a movie first if they’re unsure of whether their child can handle it.

For those of you that want to let your children watch this movie, it is really a great film for the whole family. While I’m sure that most of you will guess at the major plot points within the first 30 minutes, you’ll still be able to enjoy the creativity in this movie. The story line, while fairly obvious early on, still pulls you in. I would liken it to your favorite movie that you’ve seen 20 times, but still enjoy. You’ll know what’s about to happen, but it won’t make much difference.

There are also plenty of smaller twists that you may or may not see coming to keep you interested if the story, emotion and visual aspects of the movie do not. I recommend this movie for families more than a date night or night alone without the kids, but to each his own I suppose. It was well worth a watch.

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Posted in Entertainment Reviews.