We all have monsters - dark impulses that dwell in the deepest recesses of our minds, occasionally forcing their way into our nightmares or impinging on our consciousness. A quái dị Calls asks (but doesn’t answer) the question of whether such monsters can, in addition to giving birth khổng lồ violent & destructive impulses, be a source of strength và fortitude in the face of grief và other adverse situations. The protagonist of this movie is repeatedly knocked khổng lồ the ground by the uncaring currents of his life but his quái vật enables him lớn weather the most brutal of these incidents & emerge stronger for them. The narrative also leaves xuất hiện the possibility that the monster may be more than a figment of a boy’s imagination. There’s ample evidence of the possibility but, like the land of Oz, we can never quite be sure.

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The 2012 novel A quái thú Calls won awards for both tác giả Patrick Ness và illustrator Jim Kay. In attempting to lớn recapture the book’s chất lượng dual appeal for his movie, director J.A. Bayona (who made the tough-but-inspirational post-tsunami film The Impossible) elected to lớn meld special effects-enhanced live action with “paper cutout” animation. The result is visually arresting; comparisons lớn Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth are reasonable although I found A monster Calls to lớn have a deeper emotional resonance. Unfortunately, there superficial similarities khổng lồ Steven Spielberg’s disappointing The BFG that may present a marketing challenge. But the films are very different - their only similarity is the relationship between a giant creature & a child.

Conor O' Malley (Lewis MacDougall) is a sad, lonely child. At age 12, he is, as the narration states, “too old to be a kid, too young khổng lồ be a man.” His beloved mother (Felicity Jones) is dying of cancer, his father (Toby Kebbell) lives across the Atlantic và rarely sees his son và former wife, his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) is cold and overbearing, and his schooldays are made hellish by bullies. In short, Conor has a life no one would envy. Then, one night, The boss (Liam Neeson) comes calling. “I have come for you, Conor,” he booms. Made from the bark, roots, & branches of a giant yew tree that stands in a nearby churchyard, The boss khủng arrives at 12:07 & informs the frightened boy that he will return four more times. On each of the next three visits, he will tell Conor a story. Then Conor must reciprocate and reveal his darkest nightmare khổng lồ the Monster.

The three stories illustrate the ambiguity of human nature - good & evil, anger and kindness, fear và brutality all jumbled together. They also show the folly of believing in a magical “happily ever after” panacea. The first story has a dying king, a wicked stepmother, a prince, & true love - all of which are turned upside down when expectations turn out lớn be untrue. The second story tells of the fight between an apothecary and a parson where the shortsightedness of one và the selfishness of the other results in tragedy. Finally, The quái dị tells Conor about an invisible man who wants khổng lồ be seen. Then it’s the boy’s turn to mở cửa up his nightmare and face the unthinkable it represents. He is sure that, once revealed, his “truth” will destroy him. It doesn’t.

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A quái vật Calls is an unexpectedly powerful & unsentimental exploration of surviving grief and the less-than-noble feelings it can engender. The Monster’s purpose isn’t (as Conor initially supposes) to lớn save Mum or punish the school bullies but to lớn heal Conor, whose emotional turmoil has reached a boiling point. The anger has khổng lồ be vented, the sadness has to be confronted, & only then will he be able khổng lồ move forward. More than anything, he has to lớn be able khổng lồ accept what is happening to his mother in order to lớn say goodbye. A quái thú Calls could be considered a “family film” but it is by no means only for children và may be too intense for the younger & more sensitive among them. The movie giao dịch with adult themes and is intended for viewers who are mature enough lớn absorb và understand them. It’s remarkably deep and forceful and leaves a lasting impression.

The effects work - indeed, the visual palette as a whole - is top-notch. The Monster, which resembles a living, walking Wicker Man with blazing eyes, is suitably intimidating - not the kind of creature anyone would want to lớn meet at 12:07 am (or any other time, for that matter). Liam Neeson’s booming baritone adds a cảm biến of class to lớn the creature when it speaks but the appearance is sufficiently unnerving that it takes a little while for the viewer khổng lồ warm up khổng lồ the possibility that The quái dị might not be evil. Although Bayona uses conventional CGI for most of the scenes, he turns to animation when The Monster’s stories are presented. This is a unique approach that allows a clear differentiation between the fantasy of Conor’s imagination and the deeper màn chơi that occurs in the stories. The animation isn’t the clean, sanitized kind we find in Disney movies; it has a rougher texture and the characters look lượt thích half-formed paper cutouts. It’s far more sophisticated than it initially appears. The mix of special effects-enhanced live action and animation makes A trùm cuối Calls one of the more visually interesting films of the year.

Prior khổng lồ A boss Calls, Lewis McDougall’s only credit was as Nibs in Pan - a small part in a film no one saw. Thus, his portrayal of Conor will represent his “introduction” khổng lồ most of the movie-going community and it’s as strong as one can envision. The actor has no difficulty with the strong, dark emotional currents underpinning his character’s journey, which opens in the darkness of one bedroom and closes in another one. He is supported by the ever-reliable Felicity Jones (in a role 180-degrees away from her work in Rogue One) & Toby Kebbell as Conor’s parents. Neeson’s voice is a force in and of itself. The only possible miscasting is Sigourney Weaver, who somehow doesn’t seem right (and her accent slips on more than one occasion).

Movies like A boss Calls can be hard sells. Dark fairy tales can have trouble finding audiences because the tone and subject matter are too “adult” for young children and older viewers are only attracted to “monster movies” when they’re all about kích hoạt and mayhem. A boss Calls is a deeply moving drama that should find favor with viewers of all ages (except the very young). It’s a stunning work of artistry và emotional heft with an ending that speaks as loudly lớn children, parents, and grand-parents. It’s difficult lớn shake and impossible to forget.