“A Monster Calls” set to debut Jan. 6, 2017
By Dylan Randolph, Editor in Chief
The year 2016 set the box office on fire with movies such as “Suicide Squad,” “The Revenant,” and “Deadpool” all setting records their opening weekends; and the hits just keep coming with movies such as “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “Assassin’s Creed” set to release toward the end of December. As the year comes to a close, audiences are waiting with anticipation to see what 2017 has to offer. However, the New Year looks promising for moviegoers as the movie “A Monster Calls” sets to hit theaters across the country Jan. 6.
“A Monster Calls” is based on the award-winning novel written by Patrick Ness that tells the story of a young boy named Conor, played by Lewis MacDougall. Conor is 13-year-old boy who faces everyday struggles like bullies, school, and feeling left out. However, one thing Conor must deal with that not everyone does is his mother (played by Felicity Jones) has to undergo chemotherapy. Since Conor’s mom can no longer take care of her son, Conor is forced to move in with his Grandmother (played by Sigourney Weaver). In order to escape from his reality, Conor creates a monster (played by Liam Neeson) who visits him every night around 12:07 a.m. When the Monster visits, he tells Conor that he will tell him three stories that will ultimately end up being told through Conor’s experiences as he deals with his mother’s impending death.
When it comes to deciding just exactly who is going to take on which role in a movie, there are always many options as to who to choose. However, when it came to picking the “Monster” in this film, J. A. Bayona knew exactly just who he wanted to portray the role.
“Because the ‘Monster’ is based off the Green Man which is so common in celtic folklore, we were looking for an Irish actor that can represent that wisdom and can bring the strong presence of the Monster. There was only one name and it was always Liam Neeson.” With Neeson being such a raw, masculine character in cinema today, it was obvious why Bayona wanted the star.
One aspect that Bayona relied heavily on during the production of this movie was the use of converting fantasy into reality. Throughout the story, the audiences receives glimpses into Conor’s struggle in dealing with the loss of his mother, so much so that the destruction the “Monster” brings has caused Conor to destroy his own surroundings.
“We needed to find the reality and the fantasy itself. We needed to recreate both worlds… All the elements of fantasy are taken from the real world. I was trying to find a way to blend the world of fantasy and the reality,” said Bayona when asked about the creative direction of the film.
Although the movie has not been released, audiences have seen only a glimpse of Bayona’s vision as Conor is depicted destroying a living room with what looks like a bat after receiving a visit from the Monster during the trailer the studio has released.
When creating such an astonishing film, there are many challenges the director and actors must face, whether it is portraying the characters, developing a storyline, or emotionally syncing the audiences with the characters. It is clear from the movie trailer alone that Bayona was able to connect the audience to his characters, but Bayona did face other challenges throughout the film.
“The movie is so rich, so familiar, with so many different subject matters. With tales inside the story and the two levels of fantasy and reality, finding the right architecture and the right tone was pretty challenging. I think the entire film was articulated around the idea of truth and how to be brave enough to express the truth as loud as possible,” said Bayona.
“A Monster Calls” is more than just a tear-jerking novel, but rather a story of a young kid dealing with his own demons. With such a star studded cast and and talented director, it is sure to be an award winning piece for 2017. Audiences across the country can watch the story unfold before their eyes on Jan. 6, 2017.