A Monster Calls movie full length review - An adaptation that stays true to the source material
"A Monster Calls" is based on the novel with the same name. It's about a young boy, whose mother has a terminal disease. He now searches for moral support in a tree that has started talking to him.
The movie was directed by the same man who directed "The Impossible". This man is called J.A. Bayona. In this movie he did a very good job at directing the film. He used nice transactions between shots. The scene where Conor angrily closes the fence of the graveyard and the scene transact to Conor opening the door of his house. This was done so well that it seemed that the fence gate became the house door. He did that more often throughout the film. Something that I also liked was the he used perspective to create some symbolic shots. The shot that I want to give as an example is where it starts raining outside and the first raindrops that land on the window, seem to be tears from Conor, who's sitting behind the window. Clever things like that are hidden throughout the whole movie, which is something I very much appreciated from the director. J.A. Bayona is very good at creating emotional scenes and they all work. There's not a scene where the emotion feels forced. He also is a good visual director. This was also due to the very good cinematographer Oscar Faura. The use of focus was very good and so was the use of shadow. Lots of good-looking shots were created that way. There were also a lot of close-ups in the film, which really helped to show the emotions of the characters and set up a theme for the movie, which worked really well. The soundtrack I found to be unoriginal. There were a lot of songs that a lot of movies have already used, or something very similar to that song. But at times the songs really helped to set up a certain feel to the scene.
What I did like about the movie was the way the three, well two actually, stories were told. I wasn't expecting an animated sequence, but I was hoping for it. The style they went with was very good and I also liked how they integrated The Monster into them and using him as a transaction between two story parts. The animation in them was good as well. Another thing that came as a surprise was the opening credit sequence. It was drawn in the same style the novel was drawn and the result was absolutely beautiful. Now that I've praised the movie a lot, now some things that were lesser good: the CGI. The Monster looked realistic and good, but sometimes when there was an overabundant of it, it just looked messy and not good. This was mostly the case when the backdrops were created out of CGI, because at those moments you were really able to tell that the actors were standing in front of a green screen.
The acting was fantastic. The actor of Conor gave one of the best child-performances I've ever seen. Conor was played by Lewis MacDougall. At first I was very skeptical with him, but eventually he had persuaded me. He gave the best performance out of the whole film, and that says a lot, with both Felicity Jones and Sigourney Weaver in the movie. He did well in the emotional scene and also in the other scenes, where he didn't have to express how he felt, but only showed it through his eyes. I believe that he has a future in acting in front of him. Felicity Jones also gave a fantastic performance, one of her better performances in her career. She really sold her role. Sigourney Weaver I also liked very much. I found her English accent to be good, I didn't notice that she was an American during the film, which is, of course, a good sign. Liam Neeson did a good job at voice-acting. His voice was of course changed a bit later in post-production, but the emotion he put into his voice was very good. And lastly Toby Kebbell, who played the Dad of Conor. He was very likable in his character. This was due to the good writing for his character, but also due to the charisma Toby Kebbell has and due to his performance.
The writing was also good. The story I knew would be good, because I've read the novel myself. The adaptation of it I found to be very good. The movie followed the book very well. Only one character was left out, which didn't cause any problems. It would've only helped to develop the character of Conor, but the script of the movie did already justice enough to that part. The other characters were also developed well. The dialogue too was good. It was realistic and intriguing. There were also some lines that challenge you to think further upon them. A thing that I liked about the writing was that three stories told by The Monster were more than you'd expect. They weren't superficial, but profound. They ask you to think about them, and that's what makes the movie more for adults than for children. But also the subject matter (cancer etc.) is more suited for adults.
In the end "A Monster Calls" was a very good film. The acting and directing was very good. The actor of Conor was surprisingly good and really made you feel with him. The writing was also fantastic, what makes this movie such a good adaptation of a beloved novel. The only real negative thing on this film is the CGI. Often this looked fake and you were able to tell that it most defiantly was. Those things are the reason I'm giving this film an 8.7/10