BySam Cooper, writer at
Spastic writer and a lover of all things with the word "espresso" in the title.
Sam Cooper

This December, you can:

  • Watch Felicity Jones storm the galaxy in .
  • Watch Felicity Jones die of cancer in A Monster Calls.

December has it out for Felicity Jones. Or, if we're being truthful, December has it out for us.

A Monster Calls is the quiet movie that hasn't built much hype with the public, but has been mowing down grown-ass movie critics like weeds. It's based on Patrick Ness's heartbreaking children's novel of the same name. Precisely who thought it was a good decision to drop this right before Christmas? Even though might bring tears instead of presents, it also gives an important gift to the holiday movie lineup. Ultimately, this book adaptation doesn't just look entertaining, it looks revolutionary:

Keeping It Simple

Patrick Ness wrote the script for A Monster Calls. We've discovered with the movies and series that it's best to keep authors involved (if not completely in control) over the adaptation process. If not, failed films like Ender's Game stumble onto the scene. With a story as fragile as A Monster Calls — about a boy dealing with grief by interacting with a fantastic monster — keeping Patrick Ness as the solo creator of the story was a wise choice. It's rare book adaptations give this level of control to authors, but when we're all crying in the most wonderful time of the year, we'll be thankful – A Monster Calls will stay simple, effective, and concise.

'A Monster Calls' visualizes big things, but tells small truths [Credit: Focus Features]
'A Monster Calls' visualizes big things, but tells small truths [Credit: Focus Features]

Splash Of Color, Scent Of Death

Just from the trailer, A Monster Calls mixes Oscar Faura's sleek cinematography with some of the most artistic CGI work of the year. It's a movie that doesn't use special effects to make the story world possible. It uses special effects to make the story world an experience. With so many cinematic productions — book adaptations especially — running with CGI in their hands like a pair of scissors, it's a welcome change to see A Monster Calls making an effort to streamline the endless possibilities of digital art into one cohesive vision. The most important benefit of this comes in the form of emotional balance.

Blood red sky and grungy wood. What's not to like? [Credit: Focus Features]
Blood red sky and grungy wood. What's not to like? [Credit: Focus Features]

A Monster Calls has to carry the gravity of terminal illness alongside the wild imagination of a boy. What's the link between the two? The art production of the film. A Monster Calls mixes both dark and whimsical elements into its aesthetic, fusing the story together and breaking new ground in the book-to-film world.

Casting Call: Liam Neeson As The Monster

Who doesn't want to see this? has hunted down kidnappers, trained Bruce Wayne, died at the point of a light saber, and voiced Aslan the not-so-tame lion. If one thing is clear, it's that Liam Neeson can handle a whiplash range of characters, and that is exactly what A Monster Calls needs to help balance its rough themes. Does this mean the story will explore every angle of the situation and call on every shred of talent Neeson can produce? Hopefully. Bringing life to characters created for a page is hard enough, but A Monster Calls has built a cast to work through the kinks.

It's the sure sign of a roller coaster to come.

Such intense eyes [Credit: Focus Features]
Such intense eyes [Credit: Focus Features]

Warning Signs

2016 is a year splattered with movies that share similarities to A Monster Calls, mostly in a conceptual sense. Steven Spielberg directed The BFG, and stumbled with a live-action interpretation of Pete's Dragon. Both movies were adapted from other stories, and both struggled to make their mark on the hearts of moviegoers. What sets A Monster Calls apart from these failures? Right in line with its loyalty to style and substance, A Monster Calls scored a PG-13 rating.

'A Monster Calls' promises a dark exploration of grief [Credit: Focus Features]
'A Monster Calls' promises a dark exploration of grief [Credit: Focus Features]

It's the magic slot of the rating system. PG-13 draws in the older crowds without being too out of reach for younger audiences. PG-13 films have more room to breathe when it comes to dark themes. This shows us that A Monster Calls has no problem facing nasty things like cancer, grief, and bullying. Book adaptations often play it safe, but this children's story has just stepped up the game.

This December, not only will you see live life loud and succumb to the grip of terminal illness, you also have the chance to experience a movie that is fearlessly breaking out of the typical book adaptation chains and making a unique name for itself. A Monster Calls makes an effort to keep its story pure, uses digital art production to its highest potential, keeps the importance of actors in mind, and steps out of the PG-rated safety zone. Even though it hasn't yet reached American theaters, one thing is spectacularly clear.

What has been your favorite book adaption of the year, and do you think A Monster Calls will surpass it?


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