This is a well-meaning movie with good heart, but it was better when it was called The Iron Giant.
J.A. Bayona’s film of the Patrick Ness book tells the tale of Conor (Lewis MacDougall), a young boy whose mother (Felicity Jones) is dying. Conor is, understandably, having issues, not just with the impending loss of his mother, but bullies at school and a domineering grandma (Sigourney Weaver) he doesn’t quite understand. When things come to a boil, a tree monster (voice of Liam Neeson) shows up to offer guidance and tough love.
MacDougall gives a respectable performance, as do Jones and Weaver, but the film never really works as a whole. The relationship between the boy and the imaginative monster never makes much sense, so the human interactions wind up being far more interesting.
Problem is, this movie is called A Monster Calls, and much of the film leans on the effectiveness of the monster scenes. There are moments where everything jells, but just moments. For the most part, the movie feels disjointed, uneven, and too similar to films that have come before it. And it doesn’t earn the tears it wants you to shed at the end.