B-movie action/thrillers have become Liam Neeson’s bread and butter in recent years (see: Non-Stop, the Taken movies, etc.) – not that we’re complaining, mind you – but some of the fan-favorite’s more memorable roles of late have been in films that fall outside that genre (see: Good Cop/Bad Cop in The LEGO Movie). Neeson could leave a similar lasting impression with his role in the upcoming children’s dark fantasy novel adaptation A Monster Calls, from director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage).
The Monster Calls source material – winner of the Carnegie and Greenaway Medals for literature – is a novel written by Patrick Ness, based on an idea by the late Siobhan Dowd (who received credit for her contribution). The story revolves around thirteen-year old Conor, a troubled boy who’s been haunted by the same nightmare since finding our that his mother has cancer. One night, the creepy yew tree in Conor’s backyard transforms into a monster and begins visiting him every night, telling him a variety of strange stories. But is “The Monster” attempting to help or hurt the troubled lad?
Felicity Jones (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) was previously reported to have joined the Monster Calls cast, but at that time Neeson’s involvement with the project was not said to be a sure thing yet. However, it appears that a deal has materialized after all, now that Screen Daily is reporting that Neeson has committed to playing the movie’s eponymous creature.
How said “monster” will be brought to life remains to be seen, though one reasonable possibility is Neeson will end up doing some facial and/or limited physical motion-capture work – on top of voice-acting – in order to portray the bulky character (similar to how Benedict Cumberbatch played the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit trilogy). It may instead be that Neeson’s mannerisms are going to be filmed, in order to provide a template for animators to work from. Either way, the actor’s vocals alone should help to provide A Monster Call‘s namesake with a commanding screen presence (see when Neeson voiced Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia series).
Bayona, likewise, has proven to be a capable storyteller, when it comes to directing films with supernatural horror elements, but unfold as moving and poignant allegories for issues in life that are difficult enough to grapple with – something that bodes well for him calling the shots on A Monster Calls. As for the script: Ness adapted his original book for the big screen interpretation, so hopefully he managed to translate the novel into a more cinematic form, with its essence still intact.
A Monster Calls opens in U.S. theaters on October 14th, 2016.
Source: Screen Daily