A Monster Calls (2016) Movie Review

By Reel 127 (A Toast) –

A Monster Calls is the new Life of Pi. I make no exaggeration in saying that. It’s about a young boy with a CGI friend who is helping them to cope with life. Though A Monster Calls never reaches an extreme level of CGI like Life of Pi (and as far as I can tell no visual effects companies went bankrupt making the monster). Conor is a young boy dealing with his mother dying from unspecified cancer. All you need to know is it’s the kind of cancer that you have a hard time coming back from. A large monster that comes from an old tree visits Conor and tells him stories. Ultimately these stories reflect the problems Conor is facing and how to solve them.

Most of which includes breaking shit.

A Toast

A Monster Calls does what few films these days seem to be able to- balance the technical and the art aspects of filmmaking. The film never stops telling its story to show how pretty of a shot they can make. And they never try to create deep drama while compromising shot composition. There are a few times when the film transitions to a water color-style animation. This is when the Monster is telling a story to Conor. But the characters will give commentary during the story, making it part of the story instead of a random short film that got stuck in there. The filmmakers are saying, we know we are stepping away from the main plot. But don’t worry, this will be relevant.

Also, Liam Neeson has a magnificent voice.

I am going to take the unpopular stance here and say I can’t stand Felicity Jones. I don’t get how she became popular. I hated her performance in The Theory of Everything. I honestly forget or can’t stand what else I have seen her in. *cough* Inferno. *cough* But I actually enjoyed her in this. You can tell how sincere her character is trying to be when speaking with Conor, but also feel her doubt from how she presents herself. This especially pays off by the end when you come to understand why she did this.

However, I would have to say Sigourney Weaver was the best actor of the film. Though she has very little screen time, she stands out the most. Her progression of falling apart from being this together and stern grandmother is captured well (and relates to one of the tales the Monster tells). For a character who has the least amount of screen time, an incredible amount of effort went into developing her. It’s these details that helps strengthen the film as a whole.

Being a concerned grandmother, killing aliens.

What can’t Sigourney Weaver do?

How this film is not even being considered for a Best Visual Effects Oscar is baffling. I can understand it not making the final ten list. But it wasn’t even on the list of twenty finalists. A Monster Calls has wonderful effects! The Monster feels real at all times; even the audio sounds correct based on his distance and volume. It’s clear the filmmakers spent a lot of time getting this just right. They wanted to make it meaningful rather than just trying to make something cool.

Liam Neeson Monster could kick this guys ass.


A Monster Calls is a fantastic film. Of the films coming out right now, this is one of the few worth making the trip to the theater for. The big screen is the best way to get the full viewing experience. Hopefully this film will be considered for technical categories for the Oscars. Between the great visual effects and cinematography you don’t want to miss out!

A Monster Calls (2016) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time the time shown is “12:07.”

Do a Shot: for the one time it’s “17:02.”

Take a Drink: every time the Monster says “tale.”

Take a Drink: every time a character is drawing.

Take a Drink: every time something is smashed, knocked over, or destroyed.

About Reel 127

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