Director: J.A. Bayona
Cast: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones
Release Date: March 28, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 10/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones, and Sigourney Weaver star in this visually spectacular and stunningly emotional drama. Young Conor’s life takes a turn after his mother (Felicity Jones) becomes ill and he moves in with his unsympathetic grandmother (Sigourney Weaver). As an escape, Conor turns to his artwork and conjures up a 40-foot-high monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) who becomes a most unlikely ally by guiding him on a journey of courage, faith and truth that powerfully fuses imagination and reality.
‘A Monster Calls’ tells the story of a young boy named Conor (MacDougall) whose life has become increasingly difficult as of late. Simultaneously dealing with his ailing mother (Jones), the intervention of his aggravating grandmother (Weaver) and feeling largely invisible, aside of course from the repeated beatings courtesy of the bullies at school; Conor indirectly conjures a massive tree-like monster (Neeson) who arrives to tell him three tales in exchange for a personal truth. As his mother begins taking a turn for the worst and Conor is forced to stay with his grandmother as a result, he soon finds his visits with the monster to be his only reprieve from an increasingly painful life; while the true intention for the monster’s calling remains somewhat unclear.
Directed by J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage) from a screenplay written by Patrick Ness and based upon his own novel of the same name which was itself inspired from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd respectively, Bayona does an outstanding job at the helm of ‘A Monster Calls’ guiding this gorgeous and unforgettable tale along beautifully. The film also owes a good share of the credit to the talented folks that comprise the cast including Lewis MacDougall (Pan), Sigourney Weaver (Aliens), and Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), plus the voice of Liam Neeson (Taken) and more, nearly all providing fantastic performances in each of their respective roles and therefore allowing this emotionally powerful story to work as perfectly as it does.
‘A Monster Calls’ is an absolute masterpiece; a beautiful and emotionally riveting tale of self discovery and struggle that is constantly brimming with wonder and beauty. It takes some fairly simple and painfully human concepts and constructs something unique, breathtaking and unforgettable with which to tell the relatable story, yet make no mistake; this is by no means a horror film or monster movie as we are commonly familiar with them, it’s an incredibly human story that is cleverly constructed into one of the best film’s of the last year and almost guaranteed to resonate with the viewer long after its conclusion. Guided with a flawless grace by talented director J.A. Bayona throughout its powerful course, and further complimented by fantastic performances from the talented cast members who are consistently at top form, ‘A Monster Calls’ is a remarkable and truly moving tale that you won’t want to miss out on. I would strongly urge anyone who appreciates quality filmmaking in general, or simply enjoys a perfectly crafted drama with its share of fantasy elements and constantly oozing heart to give ‘A Monster Calls’ a whirl when you have the chance to do so. It’s one of the very best films of the last year and a true masterpiece.
Overall, ‘A Monster Calls’ is a brilliant, beautiful and incredibly moving tale that is a constant wonder to behold. Passionately guided by director J.A. Bayona and featuring noteworthy performances from the talented folks comprising the cast, it’s without a doubt one of the best film’s of the previous year and an unforgettable and emotionally powerful journey that anyone who appreciates quality filmmaking at its finest won’t dare to miss out on. ‘A Monster Calls’ definitely earns my highest possible recommendation for anyone who doesn’t mind emotionally investing in a tremendously powerful and moving story that isn’t likely to be soon forgotten. This one should certainly be well worth the cost of a rental at the very least for anyone that might be understandably hesitant to drop the funds on a blind purchase before checking it out.
The Blu-ray release of ‘A Monster Calls’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks outstanding as a whole and delivers a sharp, detailed and absolutely beautiful video presentation throughout that captures the onscreen wonder with spectacular clarity. It holds up impressively even during the darkly lit sequences and never results in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a phenomenal high definition video presentation complimented by a more than sufficient bitrate that should easily please the masses.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack provides a clean, crisp and often notably aggressive audio presentation throughout. It frequently takes full advantage of all five available channels in order to send branches whipping, buildings crashing and crumbling, along with plenty more whipping throughout the various speakers when fitting and also offering the bass an ample workout in many instances, and never causing any dialogue that may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a spectacular 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that perfectly complements the film and shouldn’t disappoint in the slightest.
The Blu-ray release of ‘A Monster Calls’ includes some notable extras that take you deeper into brining the film to life. Included on the release are ‘2 Audio Commentary’ tracks; the first is an ‘English Audio Commentary with Writer Patrick Ness’ and the second is a ‘Spanish Audio Commentary with Director J.A. Bayona’. We are also treated to a number of ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 6 minutes in length altogether), and a couple of behind the scenes Featurettes which include interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are: ‘The Making of A Monster Calls’ (running approximately 21 minutes), and ‘A Monster Calls: Making of The Tales’ (approximately 8 minutes).